A 27-year-old California man was sentenced to a prison term of 15 years on July 21 for his role in a fatal 2016 drunk driving accident. The man last appeared in court in May when he pleaded no contest to a charge of gross vehicular manslaughter. The Visalia resident was serving probation for an earlier DUI conviction when he was involved in a crash that claimed the life of a 42-year-old woman and left her five passengers injured.
The judge learned that the man had failed to live up to other conditions of his 2014 drunk driving conviction. Prosecutors said that he did not attend mandatory DUI classes and failed to have an ignition interlock device fitted to his vehicle despite being ordered to do so by a court. Police reports suggest that the man had a blood alcohol level of .09 percent when his pickup truck struck an oncoming van on Highway 65 in the vicinity of Lindsay. Prosecutors claim that subsequent toxicology tests also discovered traces of methamphetamine in the man's system.
According to accident investigators, the man was eastbound in the westbound lanes of Highway 65 near Spruce Avenue when he was involved in a head-on collision. The woman behind the wheel of the vehicle struck by the man's pickup truck succumbed to her injuries after being transported to a nearby trauma center by paramedics.
Experienced criminal defense attorneys may urge those facing drunk driving charges to comply with the requirements of any plea agreement they enter into. Prosecutors work under heavy caseloads and thus are sometimes willing to reduce DUI charges even when the evidence against defendants is compelling, but they may be less likely to be lenient when previous demonstrations of remorse have been insincere.