Driver sentenced in California DUI crash that killed teenage girl

Posted on in Wrongful Death

A young man accused of causing a fatal car accident while drinking and driving has been sentenced for the crime, nearly a year ago to the day of the crash.

The 19-year-old South San Francisco, California, man was driving himself and three others home from a night of drinking in Daly City and San Francisco last year when the crash happened. It was around 3:30 a.m. when the driver became distracted by a conversation about which radio station to play as traffic ahead of the car slowed for an unrelated accident. The driver tried to stop and veered two lanes to the right, rear-ending an SUV, which lurched forward and hit another car.

No one in those cars was injured, but a 17-year-old girl sitting in the middle of the back seat of the teen driver's car was thrown forward and knocked unconscious. She died a short time later at the hospital. The other two passengers suffered minor injuries.

The California Highway Patrol reported finding an open container in the teen's car and said 90 minutes after the crash, his blood alcohol level registered .15 and .16. Last Friday, he pleaded no contest to charges of vehicular manslaughter and drunk driving. Under the terms of his settlement, he'll serve two years in prison, less than half of what prosecutors originally requested and much less than the 11 years he could have faced if convicted by a jury.

The driver's attorney said the young man is "extremely remorseful" and hopes to share his story with others to deter them from making the same mistake. In the past year that he's been in jail, he's earned his high school equivalency and completed a rehabilitation program.

While it's good for the driver and society as a whole that he's learned a valuable lesson about the dangers of drunk driving, it doesn't change the fact that his mistake took the life of another person. The driver's lesson is one the victim's family won't ever forget, either.

Source: The Daily Journal, "Teen imprisoned for fatal DUI crash," Michelle Durand, Feb. 4, 2012

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