The state of California is known for its tough laws against driving under the influence (DUI). DUI crimes are also punished heavily in other states throughout the country. Repeat DUI offenses or a DUI resulting in death or serious bodily injury can significantly increase your sentence and result in thousands of dollars in fines. The following are five of the worst punishments for DUI-related charges in the United States.
5. California Man Sentenced to 13 Months in State Prison for 7th DUI
In Billings, California, Fernando Lionel Beauchene was allegedly sentenced to 13 months in state prison followed by three years probation for one count of DUI. The prosecutor stated Beauchene had six prior DUI convictions in Montana, Illinois and Florida, which most likely had an effect on his sentence1.
4. Drunk Driver Sentenced to 40 Years in State Prison for 9th DUI
In the state of Montana, Shawn Kevin Smaage was reportedly sentenced to 13 months in state prison followed by four years probation for his 9th alleged DUI. This was to be served consecutively with a 40 year sentence (20 years suspended) for being a repeat felony offender.
Smaage was convicted of six DUIs in the 1980s, which culminated in a negligent homicide conviction that killed a teenage girl. After he was paroled, Smaage was convicted of three more DUIs in the 1990s. Smaage’s 13-month sentence for his 9th DUI and 40 year repeat felony offender sentence was the maximum sentence allowed under Montana law at the time.
California’s repeat felony offender law is known as the Three Strikes Law. Under this law, a person convicted of two previous serious or violent felonies in California would face 25 years to life in prison if convicted of a third serious or violent felony2.
3. Nevada Man Sentenced to Maximum 45 Years for DUI That Killed Family of Five
In 2008, Ronald Jayne, Jr. was sentenced to a minimum of 15 years to a maximum of 45 years in state prison and restitution of over $200,000 for a drunk driving accident that killed a family of five. The youngest victim of the family was merely seven months old. Jayne was 19 years old at the time of the accident.
In the state of California, a DUI causing death can be charged as gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated (showing gross negligence) under California Penal Code Section 191.5(a) or vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated under Penal Code Section 191.5(b). Gross vehicular manslaughter is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in state prison and a $10,000 fine. Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated can be a felony punishable by up to four years in state prison and a $10,000 fine. It should be noted these sentences are the result of causing one death. You can expect a sentence to increase if multiple deaths are involved3.
2. Man Sentenced to 17 Years to Life in State Prison for Second Degree Murder
In the state of New York, Neville Wells was convicted of second degree murder after his car struck another vehicle and killed one person and seriously injured another. Wells had two prior driving while intoxicated arrests. In a rare move, the Manhattan district attorney charged Wells with second degree murder instead of the more common vehicular manslaughter. Wells was sentenced to 17 years to life in state prison.
Wells’ sentence was rare not just in the state of New York, but would be rare in the state of California as well. The verdict made a statement in how seriously repeat offenders would be prosecuted in New York. Such a verdict is not unlikely in serious repeat DUI offenses in California4.
1. Missouri Man Facing Life Without Parole After 11th DWI Arrest
In Missouri, Ricky Weeden, a man arrested for driving while intoxicated for the 11th time, was also charged with the hit-and-run murder of a 4 year old boy. Weeden kept driving after hitting two brothers crossing a street with his car. The younger brother died while other brother suffered minor injuries and was released from the hospital.
Six out of Weeden’s 11 DWI arrests resulted in convictions. He had been arrested 150 times in the past 30 years. Weeden was charged with murder and assault over his most recent arrest. The charges were filed after consideration of his past criminal history. Under Missouri law, Weeden faces life without the possibility of parole, or death, if convicted of the murder charge5.
In the state of California, a first degree murder conviction can result in 25 years to life in prison, life in prison without the possibility of parole or the death penalty.
Call Wallin & Klarich Today
Many of the unfortunate harsh sentences in these cases could have been avoided if they had hired an expert attorney. If you or a loved one is facing a DUI-related charge, it is important that you speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have over 30 years of experience in handling all types of DUI offenses in Southern California.
With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich Southern California criminal defense attorney near you no matter where you work or live.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.
All of the information provided on this page was retrieved from the following sources: