It is a traumatic thing for everyone involved when a DUI accident takes the lives of one or more people. In California, this is typically charged as manslaughter. There are times, however, when it can be charged as second-degree murder. In order for a prosecutor to prove second-degree murder, the accused generally must have a previous DUI conviction. However, in certain circumstances, if the prosecutor can prove that the driver acted with a reckless disregard of life, no previous DUI conviction is necessary. For example, if a driver has stolen a car and crashes into someone while evading police and they’re intoxicated, a case can be made for murder.
The Mercury News reports that a man driving a stolen car collided with a rideshare vehicle, killing one passenger and seriously injuring two others.
The accident happened early Sunday morning just before 1:21 a.m., when a Sunnyvale police officer came upon the scene at Cabrillo Avenue and Lawrence Expressway.
Prior to the accident, a green 1999 Honda Accord had been reported stolen to the police earlier in the month. At 11:14 p.m., a Sunnyvale Police officer spotted the stolen vehicle in a parking lot. The officer placed a tire deflation device and waited for 32-year-old Claudio Perez to come back to the vehicle.
At around 1:15 a.m., the officer attempted to initiate a traffic stop in the parking lot. Perez began driving recklessly and officers called off pursuit due to the potential harm to bystanders.
A rideshare vehicle occupied by two passengers was attempting to make a left onto Cabrillo Avenue when Perez ran the red light, slamming into the vehicle.
28-year-old Carol Major was killed in the accident. The other passenger, a 26-year-old male, was taken to a hospital in critical condition. The driver, a 28-year-old Santa Clara resident, suffered from unspecified injuries.
Perez was booked on charges of murder, auto theft, driving under the influence, evading police, and probation violations.