Thursday, March 5, 2009

San Diego DUI death gets 19 year old 5 year prison sentence, CHP to step up California DUI patrols

California DUI attorneys and California DUI lawyers at unfortunately relate that a 19-year-old San Diego resident who was over the legal limit when he crashed an SUV carrying five people on a residential street -- killing a friend -- was sentenced Tuesday to nearly five years in state prison.

Richard Caldwell pleaded guilty Dec. 3 to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and DUI causing injury.

Caldwell had a .12 percent blood-alcohol level and was driving at least 65 mph down a residential street in Poway when he lost control of the vehicle about 2:30 a.m. last April 10, killing Charles Amaro II and injuring two others.

San Diego California DUI Criminal Defense attorney Michael Harkness, arguing unsuccessfully for probation, told Judge David Danielsen that his client had no prior criminal record and had already suffered greatly because of the loss of his good friend on the victim's 20th birthday.

But Danielsen said the message needed to go out to the community that if a motorist drinks and drives and kills or seriously injures someone, there will be consequences.

"His responsibility is great, and our responsibility to the community is greater," the judge said in handing down the 56-month term.Caldwell, who was also seriously injured in the accident, apologized to Amaro's family and his own mother. "I accept full responsibility," the defendant said.

San Diego California DUI Lawyer Harkness said Caldwell had dreams of playing college football at a major university, but those dreams were probably dashed because of his injuries. Amaro's mother, Gidgette Nieves, said she prayed that Caldwell would be sentenced to a term that achieved justice. The group in the SUV had attended a party the night of the San Diego California DUI accident.

Caldwell and two others had actually left the party but returned when Amaro called for a ride home, San Diego California DUI attorneys are told.

Deputy District Attorney Greg Walden said the SUV rolled five or six times before coming to rest. He said what remained of the vehicle made it look like "a roadside bomb went off."

Amaro was scheduled to appear in court that same day in connection with an unrelated San Diego California DUI / drunk driving manslaughter accident in which he was a passenger. That San Diego California DUI crash killed a 19-year-old Temecula woman and injured a second passenger.

In other California DUI news, the CHP is providing Oakland police with the extra officers it needs to increase the number of California DUI checkpoints, and make routine traffic stops. But more than one of those routine stops has resulted in far more than a traffic ticket. "We were able to arrest the driver for driving under the influence but also arrest him for possession of heroin for sale, black tar heroin, white powder heroin, methadone tablets and syringes," said Area CHP Commander Don Morrell. California DUI authorities deny charges that racial profiling is involved in the traffic stops. The statewide California DUI effort is funded by a $7 million grant from 'Cal-GRIP,' the "California Gang Reduction, Intervention, and Prevention Program."

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