The 1981 People v. Watson case established precedent for a drunk driver to be charged with murder for someone they killed in a car accident. The law states that if a person has a previous DUI conviction and is in an accident that kills someone, they can potentially be charged with murder. The penalty for a DUI conviction ranges from 15 years to life in prison per count that the driver faces. The penalty does not include other penalties for other charges.
The LA Times reports that a woman has been sentenced to 51 years to life in prison for a DUI crash that killed 3 Las Vegas teenagers in a Huntington Beach crash.
On Thursday, 29-year-old Bani Duarte was sentenced to 51 years in state prison for the March 29, 2018 crash. She was found guilty on October 1 of three counts of second-degree murder as well as one count of driving under the influence causing great bodily injury. The jury also found the sentencing enhancement of causing great bodily injury to be true.
The teenagers were in Huntington Beach for spring break when the accident occurred. Duarte was driving a Hyundai Sonata when she crashed into the Toyota Corolla the teens were driving in.
18-year-old Dylan Mack and 17-year-old Brooke Hawley and A.J. Rossi were all killed in the accident. Alexis Vargas, a fourth passenger in the Toyota, was seriously injured in the crash.
On the day of sentencing, four hours of victim impact statements were heard inside the courtroom.
Duarte had a previous DUI arrest where her car was impounded, and her license was suspended. At the time of the accident, Duarte had a blood-alcohol level of 0.3, more than three times the legal limit.