In California, getting into a DUI accident that kills another motorist or a passenger in your vehicle can result in a murder charge. Typically, a DUI murder charge, also known as Watson murder, requires a previous DUI. It is a second-degree murder charge, which means that there was no intent to kill, but that you should have known your actions could have resulted in the death of another person. However, prosecutors have been known to charge Watson murder in DUI accidents that are particularly egregious. A DUI murder conviction can result in 15 years to life in prison. More time can be added if there is more than one fatality.
The LA Times reports on a woman sentenced to 30 years to life for her role in a DUI accident.
26-year-old Olivia Culbreath was sentenced on Wednesday to 30 years to life in prison for a wrong-way accident that claimed the lives of six people. One of those people was Culbreath’s sister.
The crash occurred four years ago on the 60 Freeway in Diamond Bar. Culbreath had been driving the wrong way at the time of the crash. Witnesses reported that in addition to traveling the wrong way, Culbreath was driving her Camaro at speeds of at least 100 m.p.h.
While traveling at those high speeds, Culbreath plowed into a red Ford Explorer, which then smashed into another car.
Several people were ejected from their vehicles in the accident. Only Culbreath and Joel Cortez, who was driving a Ford Freestyle involved in the multi-vehicle accident, survived.
Four years prior to the 2014 crash, Culbreath was convicted of drunken driving in San Bernardino County. She had only had her license reinstated a week before the deadly accident.
Culbreath pleaded no contest to six counts of second-degree murder in May.