In a relatively unusual move, a Sacramento judge sentenced a defendant to 23 years to life for his role in a deadly DUI crash in 2012. Ryan Scott Baird, 23, had already been found guilty of two previous DUIs before the January, 2012, crash that took the life of victim Robert Sunderland III.
The Yolo County jury found Baird guilty of gross vehicular manslaughter and gross bodily injury while intoxicated.
The convicted driver was traveling on County Road 102 from Interstate 5 when he crashed and rolled his Mitsubishi vehicle, ejecting all three passengers, none of whom were wearing seat belts. Baird, was driving under a blood alcohol content greater than 0.08. Besides Sunderland death’s, Baird also caused injuries to Oscar Saeed Rodriguez and James Black. Baird suffered only moderate injuries in the crash, while the two passengers suffered serious physical harm including a coma for Black.
What Are California’s Laws Regarding DUI Injuries?
In California, driving under in the influence and causing an accident can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances. If the driver causes only property damage and the damage remains under a certain dollar amount, the driver may have only a misdemeanor charge. However, if there is any physical injury to an innocent victim, the driver is usually charged with a felony.
What made this case rather unusual is that even when there is a death as a result of a DUI crash, it is not common for the driver to be sentenced to life in prison. What may have determined the sentence in this case is the fact that the driver already had two previous DUI convictions in a relatively short time prior to this crash.
What Should I Do If I Am The Victim of A DUI Crash?
If you have been the victim of a DUI crash, it is important that you protect your rights from a civil perspective. While the law may punish those who cause DUI crashes with criminal penalties, DUI laws do nothing to repay the victims for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost time at work, increased living expenses and property damages. A personal injury attorney may represent the victims of a DUI accident and help them recover damages from the person who has caused their injuries.
When someone is injured in a DUI crash, a personal injury attorney may file a lawsuit to collect damages. If the person is killed in the crash, the family of the victim may file a wrongful death lawsuit with the help of an accident attorney. A wrongful death lawsuit may seek damages for loss of love and affection, loss of future income and other costs associated with a fatal DUI accident.