| Added On September 2, 2011
It is imperative for anyone planning to consume alcohol that a designated driver is arranged prior to beginning the evening’s festivities. A designated driver can either be a trusted friend who is staying home for the evening or a taxi service. Bars and restaurants typically can provide either free taxi service or, at a minimum, a referral phone number for a local taxi service. Simply put, there is no excuse for driving while intoxicated and the following story illustrates how a single act of belligerence can reap devastating and life-changing consequences.
A Santa Ana man is to be arraigned today on murder charges stemming from the DUI-related death of his nephew. Police assert that the defendant refused offers from a bartender for a taxi service after a night of heavy drinking. The man then crashed his SUV into a light pole and fled the scene. The incident took place in December, 2010. The man’s 20-year old nephew was riding in the backseat of the vehicle and died at the scene. In the front seat, the driver’s 34-year old brother in law sustained severe injuries including a double leg fracture, broken ribs and lacerations to the liver and spleen.
The driver’s blood alcohol content registered at 0.17 over 90 minutes after the crash took place. In addition to his alcohol-induced incoherency and lack of cooperation with police, the driver was also operating his vehicle under a suspended driver’s license and was still serving probation for a 2004 DUI offense.
As for the night in question, facts have emerged that the defendant was drinking with friends at the Newport Five Cocktail Lounge in Tustin on the evening of December 20, 2010. The bartender eventually asked the driver and his friends to leave around 1:15am after their demeanor evolved from jovial to rowdy. The defendant reportedly remained in the parking lot until 2am despite the bartender’s repeated attempts to call a cab for the man. At 2:20am, an officer from the Destin police department even offered to call a cab for the man- an offer that was declined after the man claimed he was already waiting on a ride.
Moments later, the man and his family members piled into his Suburban and headed for home. The crash occurred shortly thereafter and witnesses reported that the driver was adamantly opposed to calling 911 to help his injured and dying family members. He then attempted to run away and was quickly apprehended.
The man has been charged with felony hit and run with injury and driving on a suspended license in addition to the murder charges.