The Water Cooler – Murder Charge for Drunk Drivers?

March 17, 2014 12:20 pm · 58 comments

The “Water Cooler” is a feature on where we ask you a question or provide a topic, and you talk about it!

The “Water Cooler” will be up Monday-Friday at noon!

If a drunk driver kills somebody while operating a vehicle, do you think they should automatically be charged with murder instead of vehicular manslaughter?

Talk about it!

Incognito March 17, 2014 at 12:27 PM

Why? I know of a couple of cases in the last few years where individuals have been drunk and killed someone, charged with vehicular manslaughter, and have not served any time in jail at all. House arrest is what one person got. P. S. He was definitely old enough to know better, which proves it’s not just young adults who drive drunk.

? March 17, 2014 at 12:34 PM

Yes. If you don’t like it then don’t drive drunk and you won’t have to worry about it.

koko March 17, 2014 at 12:36 PM

Murder is intentional or premeditated. No can do.

Ms.V March 17, 2014 at 2:40 PM

Drinking before driving is intentional and premeditated

@Mrs.V March 17, 2014 at 4:19 PM

good luck proving that in a court of law

just a concordian March 17, 2014 at 6:27 PM

Driving AFTER drinking isn’t premeditated.

Dorothy March 17, 2014 at 7:11 PM

Drinking without a sober backup is both intentional and premeditated.

The Mamba March 17, 2014 at 12:36 PM

I don’t think it should be automatic, but I certainly think the D.A. should have the ability to charge murder if the person has prior criminal offenses and DUIs.

well... March 17, 2014 at 1:45 PM

I agree.

Enfield303 March 17, 2014 at 12:37 PM


Kim March 17, 2014 at 12:38 PM

Yes. Getting behind the wheel drunk should be considered murder. They know that they could hurt or kill someone and they still figure its worth the risk. They know that with our court system the way it is, they will only get a slap on the wrist. Harsher punishment for these people that knowingly take that risk with someone else’s life.

Silva March 17, 2014 at 12:42 PM

Oh yeah.

Nutcreek Frontier March 17, 2014 at 12:45 PM

Not murder, which implies pre-meditated, but there should be mandatory jail terms for this offense. No house arrests…

Question Regarding David Rosen March 17, 2014 at 12:47 PM

This isnt quite on topic but a comment was made in another post. Whatever happened to David Rosen? I dont remember hearing his sentence. March 17, 2014 at 1:19 PM

David Rosen was sentenced to 7 years in a juvenile facility, but will only serve 3. He will get out when he turns 21, which is in about a year and a half.

The Southern Cross March 17, 2014 at 12:47 PM

It should be considered Gross Negligence & Vehicular Homicide… convictions should result in punishment/sentences equal to first-degree murder. Death penalty? Sure, it would be possible.

warbirds45 March 17, 2014 at 12:53 PM

Yes, the victim’s spouse, or relative’s should have control over the drunk driver’s fate !
We have become to soft! The families that are connected to these tragedies are the victims of a Judicial system that favor’s the poor criminal!

A few live execution’s / Hanging’s/ Yuma Territorial Prison Tactics and Charles Bronson running the program, we should see a decrease in driving under the influence!!!!

TinFoiler March 17, 2014 at 12:58 PM

No. Go after the guns! After all, aren’t Registered guns where all of the deaths are coming from? <<sarcasm
This is a No brainer ~ We already know the lobbying groups behind the whole alcohol scam don't want their sales to be affected.

AJT March 17, 2014 at 1:01 PM

Instead of watering down murder charges how about simply add another penalty for manslaughter while DUI/DWI?

Murder is murder. Manslaughter is manslaughter. The definitions are very clear; no need to muddy the water further.

Just my $0.73 (adjusted for inflation)

Mister Wister March 17, 2014 at 1:07 PM

A murder charge requires a degree of mens rea.

What security March 17, 2014 at 1:09 PM

O hell just put everyone in jail!!!!

Not automatically March 17, 2014 at 1:11 PM

as there are no two cases alike.

Each case needs to be adjudicated on its own merits.

Harsher penalties need to be available to judges.

Bradford March 17, 2014 at 1:15 PM

What koko said.

Always nice to see the Claycord lynch-mob mentality hasn’t changed.

Now, if you want harsher penalties for Vehicular Manslaughter, then feel free to push for that. But, the very definition of murder is that it is a deliberate and specific intent to kill a particular person or persons.

VehicMansl March 17, 2014 at 1:19 PM

I would say Vehicular Manslaughter and a fine of $50K payable to the victim’s family, 1000+ hours of community service, 6 years of probation, and reimbursement to the city for ALL emergency vehicles, repairs, etc. needed to clean up their mess.

Incognito March 17, 2014 at 1:34 PM

Not a bad idea. No doubt, a constant reminder.

well... March 17, 2014 at 1:48 PM

That community service should be in the morgue. If most drunks saw what could happen, maybe they would change their ways.

John Davis March 17, 2014 at 1:21 PM

No way Jose! I drink and drive all the time!

Just Dropping By March 17, 2014 at 2:25 PM

You are an idiot! If you ever lost a loved one to a drunk driver you would think twice before posting such an ignorant comment. Next time you might want to think before making a comment as stupid as this one was.

Anonymous March 17, 2014 at 1:22 PM

Some are charged with murder. When a first time DUI takes a class they are instructed that DUI is dangerous and can result in innocent deaths. When subsequently arrested after killing someone while DUI, that instruction can be used to determine charging, and displayed for a jury.

Krissy March 17, 2014 at 1:27 PM

Absolutely not! People make mistakes.

Diablo March 17, 2014 at 1:31 PM

Whatever it is the person should be banned from driving for the rest of their life as part of the sentence.

KJ March 17, 2014 at 1:31 PM

No. Perhaps make the penalty for vehicular manslaughter more severe; but I don’t see much difference between someone driving like a maniac, weaving in and out of traffic and killing someone, as opposed to someone getting drunk, driving erratically and killing someone. In neither case is the person intending to kill anyone, but he sure is behaving irresponsibly.

kira March 17, 2014 at 1:33 PM

I agree with mamba the d.a. should reserve the right to press murder charches if prior DUI s are there

Kittensis March 17, 2014 at 1:33 PM

getting drunk and knowing the consequences don’t usually go hand in hand. when someone is drunk, they don’t think. there are many times getting behind the wheel isn’t a good idea. lets say its raining and its more likely you could skid out and hurt someone, that’s not murder. driving drunk and accidentally killing someone shouldn’t be considered murder but it should have its own punishment that’s between murder and vehicular manslaughter. also, if there was someone who knew they were drunk and let them drive, wouldn’t they be accountable too, especially if they were sober? there is a big debate on this because its such a grey area. this type of felony needs its own punishment otherwise loopholes might be found and then the line blurs on whats premeditated murder such as driving in the rain (silly example but makes the point).

Ms.V March 17, 2014 at 2:48 PM

so i can get drunk and shoot someone?

if ‘im going to drink i make sure i’m not going to need to drive before my first sip. not too hard to do.

? March 17, 2014 at 1:35 PM

So how many accept the disease concept of Alcoholism?

Hang 'em and hang 'em high March 17, 2014 at 4:04 PM

Sure, but that does not excuse someone for their actions. Drink yourself silly then walk home or take the bus or call a cab. If you choose to get in a car and drive and someone other than you dies, then you are responsible regardless of disease.

94519 March 17, 2014 at 1:52 PM

Not murder, but the sentence should be longer.

Vcim March 17, 2014 at 2:14 PM

Absolutely !

Clayton Pete March 17, 2014 at 2:17 PM

No, it’s not murder. But boy the driver better be headed to jail for a looong time.

Marissa March 17, 2014 at 2:23 PM

No, not murder–but manslaughter.

Julio March 17, 2014 at 2:30 PM

You make a conscious decision to drink. You make a conscious decision to drive. Therefore you know you could kill someone. The penalty for vehicular manslaughter needs to be redone so it is many many years.

Hang 'em and hang 'em high March 17, 2014 at 2:49 PM

Just add DUI to the special circumstances list, just like using a gun in a robbery. Then it doesn’t matter what the intent of the defendant was, the incident occurred while the defendant was actively committing another crime. the defendant is responsible for all outcomes of the initial crime regardless of their foreseeability or comprehension due to impairment.

I don’t get why people are saying each case is different. I guess you could argue that while you were drunk some guy held you up and you jumped into your car to chase after them.

anonanonagain March 17, 2014 at 3:51 PM

I would say if they have multiple (more than one) DUI on their record then yes they should be able to charge them with murder. If this is their first offense and the lawyer can’t prove that this person has a history of driving while drunk, then it should be manslaughter……Also they should be made to attend Alcoholic Anonymous classes and register as a noted neighborhood/city/county/state drunk in a database created for this use.
If a sex offender has to register then perhaps a drunk should have to too……

KAD March 17, 2014 at 3:52 PM

If they had prior DUI charges, then yes.

Yep March 17, 2014 at 4:43 PM

Yes, murder. Would you give a loaded gun to a drunk attendee at a large, rowdy party? If he/she shot someone dead..what would it be?
Moral of the story…if you hate someone enough, raise your blood level to “legally drunk” and run them down with your car and escape a murder charge. Easy peasy.

Anderson March 17, 2014 at 4:44 PM

Hard to make it stick, since murder is by definition premeditated.

However, teenagers who killed while DUI should always be tried, convicted and charged as adults. This is the sort of mistake that should stay with them the rest of their miserable lives if they cause the death of another (here’s looking at you, David Rosen…) No exceptions.

Cowellian March 17, 2014 at 5:17 PM

I agree with KAD on this one. Killing someone is a foreseeable consequence of driving while drunk, and driving while drunk is a premeditated action, especially if the drunk has a prior conviction for DUI. And I agree with you about trying teenagers as adults if they are DUI.

RANDOM TASK March 17, 2014 at 4:49 PM

DRIVING IS NOT A RIGHT ……..its a privilege ….ill repeat it for most ……its a privilege. Sober or not you are behind the wheel of a weapon …misuse of a vehicle can and will result in death. That being said most agree you drink and get behind the wheel you obviously have weighed the risks and determined that everyone on the road near the road and or associated with the road are no longer a concern of yours ….so you have premeditated that you are obviously more important than others. Be responsible for YOUR OWN actions …….Nuff said

Bradford March 17, 2014 at 5:26 PM

Bottom line, alcohol skews reasonable thought.

Let’s say I go out one night drinking, and I have every intent in the world of taking a cab home if I drink too much. But then, as I continue to drink, my judgment is completely warped, so that I can no longer make good decisions. So I’m drunk, but because my judgment is now warped, I think I’m fine to drive home. So I hop in my car and mow someone down. Yes it’s a horrible thing. Yes, I will go to prison. But murder? Premeditated, intentional murder? Seriously?

anon March 17, 2014 at 6:49 PM

The drunken driver could also be killed in an accident and maybe his on family if they are with him or her.

Dorothy March 17, 2014 at 7:16 PM

Why should involuntary slaughter be the lessor charge for a drunk driver? Especially one that has been caught driving DUI more than once?

People usually know they will be drinking, they usually know they don’t have a sober driver afterwards, and they usually know they will be driving drunk or drugged. Since not of that can be call accidental, the charge should be one of the murder charges, not just involuntary slaughter.

sue March 17, 2014 at 8:10 PM

Thair should be jail time and jail time for DUI. When so many peopel have more than one DUI and they do nothing. Take away a icence is nothing. Lots of peopel drive with no license or insurance. Ca. laws arn’t strict enough.

Rollo Tomasi March 17, 2014 at 9:36 PM

Legally, it’s very simple. Murder requires premeditation and intent to commit the act of killing someone. Intending to get drunk and then drive does not equate to the intent to kill.

Adding a DUI enhancement to a vehicular manslaughter conviction is the answer. It would allow judges to sentence these scumbags to much longer periods in prison, especially for repeat offenders.

Anon March 18, 2014 at 7:03 AM

@51 I don’t think anyone goes out for a few drinks and “pre-meditates” murdering someone with their car! Really??

If I am driving, I will only have one beer then drink soda. Gotta say though after one beer last weekend I took my B.A.C. – I was .05. IF I had decided to have a second beer that was offered, I would have been over the limit. There are fairly inexpensive breathylizers (key chains) available. I am SO glad I bought one.

We use the breathylizer if we have a party at our house. Keys are taken and then only given back if BAC is below legal limit. Something to think about!!

I am not blaming bartenders – BUT – at the bar I was in (one beer) – the people next to me were clearly intoxicated (tab was almost $200) – The bartender poured the group another shot “on the house”. One of the girls had her KEYS in her hand – CRAZY!!!

Teacher Wannabe March 18, 2014 at 8:29 AM

@Krissy. But driving drunk is not an “mistake”, its a choice. And choices have consequences.

tired of taxes March 18, 2014 at 9:54 AM

I agree. Judgement AFTER drinking is impaired.
How about the case where you’ve surrendered your keys, then drink, then someone else puts you in the driver’s seat?
Or you just planned to have one drink but somone else spiked your one drink? (but then in that case, whoever did the spiking won’t let you drive and has other intentions for you)

Imho, texting/using your smartphone while driving is a more severe offense. Your judgement faculties aren’t impaired by alcohol; you’re just stupid using your phone while you drive.

Rob March 18, 2014 at 2:33 PM

Unless the person shows that they were forcibly held down and had booze poured down their throat and then was forced to drive the vehicle – drunk drivers should be treated as if they pulled a gun out and started shooting and killed person.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: