When thinking about extradition, it brings to mind high-level drug lords like Pablo Escobar or Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. Other famous extradition cases involve people who remain abroad, like Julian Assange for sexual assault charges in Sweden or Edward Snowden for espionage charges in the U.S. However, common cases of extradition happen all the time, often between different states within the U.S.
Drivers who are arrested on charges of drunk driving may not think that the police will cross state lines to put them in jail. However, states often cooperate in cases of impaired driving and will help other states extradite drivers accused of serious drunk driving accidents.
Extradition From California After a Fatal Crash
Extradition involves one jurisdiction handing over a person accused of a crime to another jurisdiction. Extradition can involve one country turning over a person to the other country's law enforcement or extradition can be from state-to-state. If you are wanted for a crime in California, you generally cannot avoid facing charges just because you cross the border into Arizona or Nevada.
In September, 2020, an SUV crossed into opposing traffic in Wichita, Kansas, crashing into a van head on. A passenger in the van died in the collision. The driver of the SUV was transported to the hospital. Police suspected alcohol may have been a factor in the accident. However, the driver left the state before he was arraigned on criminal charges.
Over a year later, the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office extradition unit arrested the driver in California. The driver was located in California, booked into jail, and appeared before a judge to face the allegations of a fatal DUI crash. The Kansas sheriff's office then transported the suspect all the way back to Kansas, facing charges of murder in the 2nd degree and multiple counts of DUI battery.
Out of State DUIs for California Drivers
Getting into a car accident after drunk driving in another state does not mean you can just leave the state and not face charges. Just as a California driver was extradited back to Kansas after a fatal DUI, a Nevada driver was extradited back to California after a fatal DUI crash. Last year, a driver in Reno was arrested and extradited back to California following a fatal DUI crash on I-80 near Donner Summit.
The district attorney is charging the driver with murder under a Watson advisement. The term “Watson murder,” comes from the California case People v. Watson, where the California Supreme Court held that malice in a second-degree murder case could be implied through driving under the influence. California prosecutors can charge drivers with Watson murder in California if the driver had previously been given a Watson warning after a prior DUI.
“You are hereby advised that being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or both, impairs your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. Therefore, it is extremely dangerous to human life to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or both. If you continue to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or both, and as a result of that driving, someone is killed, you can be charged with murder.”
Contact an East Bay DUI Lawyer
After getting a speeding ticket, the police may not cross state lines to try and bring you in. However, for a more serious offense, including an injury DUI, law enforcement officials in different states may cooperate to try and extradite the suspect to another jurisdiction. If you were arrested for a DUI in California, it is important to deal with those charges so you can avoid a warrant for your arrest, jail time, and possible extradition.
East Bay attorney Lynn Gorelick has more than 38 years of DUI experience and understands the challenges involved. Contact a local DUI defense lawyer who understands the challenges of an out-of-state DUI.