In California, most DUIs that involve the death of another person are charged as manslaughter. While this charge is still a felony, it is different from a murder charge. A murder charge implies that there was either malicious behavior or a reckless disregard for human life. For people who have a previous DUI conviction, they are generally warned that if they drive while intoxicated again and killed someone, they can be charged with murder. The penalties for murder are steep as well. They include fifteen years to life in state prison, a fine of up to $10,000, and carrying felony status.
Fox 5 San Diego reports that a man has been sentenced for a fatal crash that killed two men.
On Tuesday, 27-year-old Ryan Renz was sentenced to fifteen years to life in a California state prison. He was convicted last year of second-degree murder and gross vehicular manslaughter.
The charges stem from a January 25, 2017 crash that claimed the life of his friends, 23-year-old Johnny Ray Meyer Jr. and 26-year-old Dillon Cody Wiltfong.
At the time of the accident, Renz was on probation and driving on a suspended license for a prior DUI conviction. In the accident, he crashed Wiltfong’s Volkswagen Jetta into a tree on Buckman Springs Road.
One of the victims was trapped inside the vehicle while the other was ejected. Renz suffered from minor injuries.
Renz could have been sentenced to 30 years to life in prison, but he appeared to be genuinely remorseful.
Just prior to the accident, the vehicle caught the attention of the Border Patrol due to the high speed in which it was traveling. They were unable to stop the vehicle. When they arrived at the scene, the vehicle was overturned and on fire.
Mechanical issues with the vehicle were ruled out as a cause of the crash by the California Highway Patrol.