In 1981, in People v. Watson, the California Supreme Court decided that if a person drives while intoxicated and causes the death of another person, that person may be charged with murder. While it is a second-degree murder charge, the penalties for being convicted of DUI murder, also known as Watson murder, are serious. The minimum penalties include 15 years to life in state prison, fine of up to $10,000, and felony status. It will also earn someone a “strike” under California’s Three Strikes system. These penalties can be increased if more than one person is killed or if other people are seriously injured.
The crash occurred just outside of Selma, California.
Karmjit Singh, 35, was arrested by authorities under suspicion of DUI. Witnesses say that Singh was driving a BMW north on Bethel Avenue at about 100 m.p.h. They reported witnessing Singh running a stop sign at Rose Avenue. He T-boned a Kia just after 10 p.m.
The force of the impact sent the Kia, trapping the family inside. Singh’s vehicle went about 75 feet into an empty irrigation canal.
Witnesses helped to pull the family from the car. Emergency responders rushed an 8-year-old boy that had been in the Kia to the hospital, but he succumbed to his injuries. The father and mother in the Kia suffered from serious injuries, including broken bones.
Singh was transported to a local hospital for observation. According to the California Highway Patrol, Singh will be arrested on suspicion of DUI once medically cleared.
Singh was driving on a suspended license from a previous DUI conviction that occurred in 2016. If testing proves that Singh was under the influence, he could be charged with murder.