Friday, May 16, 2008

Dismissal of California DUI Case 6 years after Accident

California DUI attorney news

May 16, 2008

A California judge has dismissed California DUI - drunk driving manslaughter charges against a woman, more than six years after the crash that killer her brother in Riverside, because she did not know about the case against her and was never arrested on any warrant.

Robin Miranda Samain was in a coma and her brother dead when police began investigating the 2001 California DUI crash.

Samain was driving west on Hole Avenue toward Pierce Street in Riverside when she hit a curb and struck a utility pole, according to court documents. Her 21-year-old brother, Silvierio Caballero, was ejected and died a short time later.

Samain spent the next 24 days in a coma and several more months recovering from brain damage and partial paralysis.

A blood sample taken from Samain at Riverside Community Hospital allegedly showed an alcohol concentration of 0.14, above the legal limit of 0.08, according to California DUI court records. The Riverside Police Department requested charges be filed against Samain in March 2002 and the district attorney's office did so in July.

Five and a half years later, a district attorney's investigator informed Samain of the California DUI charges. In March, she made her first California DUI court appearance.

What happened in the past six years remains unclear. A California DUI arrest warrant was never served, and Samain didn't learn about the California DUI charges until a district attorney's investigator contacted her in February, court documents and California DUI attorneys say.

On Wednesday, Superior Court Judge Tom Cahraman dismissed the charges after a brief hearing in which Samain testified.

The blood sample was destroyed by the California Department of Justice lab in December 2002, according to court records. Agency policy states the sample should have been retained for three years and then returned to the submitting agency, according to California DUI court records.

In public records Samain's California DUI defense attorney filed with the California DUI court, she said she and her father enrolled in Alcoholics Anonymous and she has not had alcohol since her brother's death.

"The loss of my brother was a tragedy that affected the entire family and has forever changed me," wrote Samain in public records. "But I believed that this horrible tragedy had ended years ago and I was never aware of this criminal case."

Opposing papers filed with the court by the California DUI prosecutor state Samain should have inferred she would face California DUI criminal charges.

"The defendant's failure to enquire with law enforcement regarding possible charges being filed against her is unreasonable given the circumstances of the accident," Deputy District Attorney David Allen stated in the California DUI public record document. "A reasonable person would at least surmise that killing their brother in a drunk driving accident could give rise to criminal charges being filed."

After a warrant is entered, it requires law enforcement to arrest but in this California DUI case, it obviously did not happen.

Yet the DA's office still believes the California DUI charges should stand and is looking at appellate options.