Although California takes all DUI charges seriously, a DUI charge is considered a misdemeanor. In some circumstances, a DUI can be upgraded to a felony charge. One such case is if the driver has a fourth DUI charge in ten years. Another way that a DUI can be charged as a felony is if the accused driver has a previous felony DUI conviction, no matter when it occurred. The final way that a DUI can be upgraded to a felony charge is if the DUI involved an accident, and people are seriously hurt or killed in that accident.
The Whittier Daily News reports that a man has been sentenced to 16 years in prison for a deadly crash that killed two people and injured several others.
33-year-old Alex Barragan pleaded guilty on Monday to two felony counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and a felony count of driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08%. This offense occurred within 10 years of another DUI offense. Barragan was sentenced shortly after entering the plea to 16 years and four months in state prison.
Shortly after 1 a.m. on July 16th, 2018, Barragan was driving northbound on the 605 Freeway in an Infiniti when he slammed into a disabled Windstar van. Both vehicles caught fire.
Two passengers in the minivan, identified as 52-year-old Atef Mishreky and 19-year-old Mirna Beshara died at the scene. The 22-year-old driver of the minivan had moderate injuries. Two other passengers, including a 7-year-old girl, suffered from major injuries.
Barragan and his passenger only suffered from minor injuries.
At the time of the accident, Barragan had a blood-alcohol level of 0.20%. He was initially charged with two counts of murder, which were reduced in the plea deal.