Construction Zone Accident Leads To Vehicular Manslaughter Charge

The Press Democrat reports on a fatal accident in Petaluma. 29-year-old Teodulo Francisco Tovar, Jr., was driving his 2002 Chrysler Sebring convertible south along Highway 101 off near Kastania Road last Saturday. He crossed into an active construction zone next to the right shoulder.

The construction zone was clearly marked with barricade signs alerting motorists. Tovar drove 1.8 miles along the partially finished road before a gap in the pavement sent his vehicle airborne. The car then crashed into a concrete structure.

Tovar’s mother, who was in the vehicle, sustained major injuries in the accident. Another passenger succumbed to injuries about an hour after the accident, which occurred at about 11:42 a.m.

Tovar was also seriously injured in the crash. CHP officers detected the smell of alcohol on his breath. Tovar admitted to officers that he had been drinking and had smoked marijuana earlier in the day.

Officers arrested Tovar on the charge of vehicular homicide while intoxicated. He was in grave condition at the hospital.

In California, the crime of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated requires certain conditions to be met before being charged. The first, obviously, is that the charged person drove a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. While driving, you also committed another misdemeanor, infraction, or otherwise unlawful act. You committed the act with gross negligence and that act caused the death of another person. The penalty, if convicted, is either 4, 6, or 10 years in state prison.

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