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DUI charges dropped re fatal California car accident

When a family loses a loved one as a result of the negligent acts of a driver, knowing that the responsible party will face criminal charges often provides those grieving some degree of comfort. The families of two people who died in a California car accident in March may also be examining their civil options. While the driver who allegedly caused two fatalities is no longer facing charges of driving under the influence, she is still accused of vehicular manslaughter.

The accident happened on a California highway. Police say the incident involved a southbound sports utility vehicle and a northbound sedan. According to reports, the 19-year-old driver of the SUV swerved into the sedan when she attempted to throw a cigarette out of the window. The 24-year-old driver of the sedan as well as a 19-year-old passenger in the SUV died as a result of injuries suffered in the collision.

The SUV driver, who suffered serious injuries in the crash, reportedly admitted to police that she had taken a prescription pain pill prior to the accident. Additionally, a majority of the seven occupants in the SUV admitted to smoking marijuana beforehand. Although the woman initially faced charges related to driving under the influence, those charges have since been dropped after tests for marijuana were inconclusive and no painkillers were found in her system. However, she still faces several criminal charges as a result of the accident.

While a criminal conviction can bring a sense of justice, many who have lost a loved one due to a negligent driver make the separate choice to pursue damages in a civil court. For many families experiencing an unexpected loss due to a car accident, a successfully presented wrongful death claim resulting in a monetary award helps ensure they are not overwhelmed by the financial consequences of their loss. While such an outcome will likely do little to lessen their grief, it can allow these victims the opportunity they need to move forward. 

Source: mercurynews.com, "DUI charges against 19-year-old woman dropped in Moss Landing double fatal crash", Ryan Masters, Nov. 18, 2016

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