Candice Ooley, 23-years-old of Clovis, California, was driving her White Chevy Cruze on a Friday night down Highway 41 in Madera County. Ooley was 6 months pregnant at the time, and also under the influence of alcohol. Ooley was traveling at a high rate of speed, according to the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and was “highly intoxicated” when she crashed into the back of an SUV. The driver of the SUV lost control of the vehicle and ended up going down an embankment.
Passenger Frederico Nunez Silva, of Lemoore, died on the scene. The driver was pinned in the car for almost an hour before he was extricated and airlifted to the hospital. Two female passengers were also taken to the hospital. Ooley was also taken to the hospital for an evaluation. She was later arrested for a DUI and driving on a suspended license due to a prior DUI. Her bond was set at $151,900.
In addition to facing charges for drunk driving, Ooley may also face counts of felony DUI causing injury, under California Vehicle Code 23153, and second-degree murder. Since 1981, California has recognized the possibility of a second-degree murder charge in some fatal DUI accidents. In the case of People v. Watson, the defendant, Robert Watson was driving while intoxicated when he got into a fatal car accident, killing two passengers, including a six-year-old girl. His blood alcohol content (BAC) tested at 0.23%, almost three times the legal limit.
After the judge dismissed the murder counts, the prosecutor appealed the case, which went up to the Supreme Court of California. On appeal, the court found that a drunk driver could be charged with second-degree murder, and malice may be implied when a defendant “does an act with a high probability that it will result in death and does it with a base antisocial motive and with a wanton disregard to human life.”
Most cases involving a DUI murder charge, it is applied to a fatal DUI accident where the driver has a high BAC, has prior DUI convictions, and knows the dangers of drinking and driving. Drivers who plead guilty to a DUI are given a “Watson advisement.” This informs the defendant that if they are involved in a DUI accident and they kill someone, they may be charged with second-degree murder. It is unclear if prosecutors will file DUI murder charges in this case against Ooley. Ooley has a prior DUI, and may have received a Watson warning.
If a loved one is arrested on suspicion drinking and driving, contact a DUI defense lawyer who has dedicated their legal career to defending people facing DUI charges in the East Bay. With over 30 years of experience, Lynn Gorelick understands how a conviction can affect your future, and how to fight to keep a conviction off your record. If you are facing charges of driving under the influence, contact the local East Bay DUI defense attorney who understands that you do not have to plead guilty just because you were arrested.