En Español

Do I have a case for my DUI injury?

Free Case Evaluation - Our full time staff is ready to evaluate your case submission and will respond in a timely manner.

The DUI Crash: Is it Murder on the Highway?

Mothers Against Drunk Driving once circulated an effective anti-DUI poster. It pictured several shot glasses filled with whiskey with the headline: "How Many Shots Before It's Murder?" The poster underscores one, long-neglected truth about those who insist on drinking and driving -- when does this senseless, irresponsible act rise to the level of murder? Almost 500,000 people per year are injured by drunk drivers in the U.S. Or about one every minute.

A Family Devastated by a Senseless Act

drunk drivingvictims: is it murder?In October 2003, Anna Rojas, her family and friends were headed in the Rojas' Suburban SUV to the Palace Park bowling alley in Irvine.

They planned to celebrate the 13-year-old's birthday. But tragedy struck when a DUI suspect caused a car crash or collision that killed Anna's mother and friend, and left the teenager's father, brother and other friends in critical condition.

The Rojas family was very close. Anna's father, Felipe, had just completed a tree house for the children. Her nine-year-old brother, Thomas, was often preoccupied with his Play Station. Her mother, Linda, was an excellent cook. And Anna was learning to play the violin.

According to the CHP, the drunk driver hit speeds of 120 mph before he lost control of his black Camaro and slammed into the Rojas family's car on the northbound 405 Freeway.

The Camaro first struck a Honda Civic, which spun across the freeway onto the shoulder south of Culver Drive. The Camaro then hit the Rojas' Suburban, which rolled over and off the pavement, slamming into a tree. Linda Rojas, who was not wearing a seat belt, was ejected and killed. Also killed was Giovanni Jimenez, 10, a friend of the family.

Many of the occupants in the Rojas SUV were injured, yet miraculously, Anna suffered only a cut to the arm and was released from the hospital. Anna's father, Felipe, and brother Thomas, 9, sustained significant personal injury, including broken pelvises and major internal bleeding. The remaining passengers were also listed in critical condition.

The drunk driver, identified as Stephen Antony Houston-Irving, 30, of Costa Mesa, was arrested on suspicion of felony drunken driving, vehicular manslaughter, and hit and run. After colliding with the Rojas' SUV, Houston-Irving sped away, striking yet another vehicle, a gray Lincoln Town Car. Despite having allegedly destroyed the lives of the Rojas family, Houston-Irving was released from Orange County Jail on $50,000 bail.

Prosecutors Getting Tough

Some prosecutors are getting so tough on drunk drivers who cause the wrongful death of people that the penalties they exact are unprecedented. Instead of charging a drunk driver who causes the death of another with vehicular homicide, they now are going for murder using the argument of "depraved indifference." In many states, a murder conviction carries a mandatory penalty of 15 to life.

The problem is, current methods of discouraging drunks aren't working. A recent federal government study revealed that 15 percent of adult drivers actually admitted to driving under the influence at least once in the past year. Moreover, a Duke University study showed that ten percent of recent high school graduates admitted to drinking and driving. And when it comes to punishing drunk drivers, sentences "roller coaster" from state to state -- from probation to life in prison. Then there's plea bargain, which in some cases drastically cuts jail sentences. Prosecutors say it's hard to get a tough sentence out of a jury because there are always people who can identify with the DUI driver.

For more information on Mothers Against Drunk Driving please visit their website at http://www.madd.org or call the Orange County MADD office at (714) 838-6199.

Related Articles

Was This Page Helpful? Yes | No

DUI Accident Victim Lawyers

  • If you or a loved one have suffered as a result of someone else’s negligence, know your rights and contact an attorney today.

Client Reviews of Bisnar Chase

“Bisnar chase rocked my case. I got a nice chunk of change an [sic] they were pretty cool to me.”

by Frank D.

reviewed at Yelp


Watch Video

Bisnar Chase Takes on Drunk Driving Cases

Watch Video

Can I Obtain Punitive Damages In My DUI Case?

Have a question that wasn't answered here?

Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys
1301 Dove St #120
Newport Beach, CA 92660

local: (949) 203-3814
Get Directions

See All Ratings And Awards


Copyright & Disclaimer

Disclaimer: The legal information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice, nor the formation of an attorney-client relationship. Any results set forth here were dependent on the facts of that case and the results will differ from case to case. Bisnar Chase serves all of California. In addition, we represent clients in various other states through our affiliations with local law firms. Through the local firm we will be admitted to practice law in their state, pro hac vice.

Copyright © 1999-2017 Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys - All rights reserved.
Location: 1301 Dove St. #120, Newport Beach, CA 92660 - Tel: (949) 203-3814

Website Design by: SLS ConsultingSLS Consulting