In California, there are two vehicular manslaughter charges a person could face if they are under the influence while in an accident that claims a life. The first charge is gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, which is a felony. The second charge is vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. The second charge can be a felony or a misdemeanor. In order to be charged with the second charge, a person must have driven while intoxicated and committed another negligent behavior while driving. For example, if a person who is intoxicated is texting and involved in an accident that kills another person, they could be charged with vehicular manslaughter while under the influence.
The San Luis Obispo Tribune reports that a woman has pleaded no contest to DUI charges involving an accident that killed a pastor.
25-year-old Los Osos resident Emily Bales pleaded no contest on September 18th to a count of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated without gross negligence. The charge is a felony and carries a five-year sentence enhancement of leaving the scene.
The charges stem from a November 18, 2018 crash where Bales was texting while driving and ran into 67-year-old Dale Paulsen. The impact launched Paulsen into the air where he landed on top of a row of 5-foot tall shrubs.
Bales had been driving a 2015 Toyota Tacoma after consuming about five beers and one beer sample. She told a sheriff’s deputy that she felt like she hit something but didn’t see what she had hit because she was texting at the time.
Her blood-alcohol level was between 0.12% and 0.13%, which is nearly double the legal limit.
Paulsen had recently announced his retirement from Morro Bay Presbyterian Church after serving as a pastor for nearly 24 years.
Under Proposition 57, which was overwhelmingly approved by California voters, Bales could be released on parole after serving just eight months.