Paso Robles News|Wednesday, August 5, 2020
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Alex Gonzales’ attorney responds to accusations 

Sometimes tragedies are just accidents, not crimes

By Darryl Genis
Constitutional Defense Attorney

Darryl Genis

Attorney Darryl Genis

I have been retained to represent Alexander Gonzales who attended Paso Robles and Liberty High Schools where he was active in FFA, wrestling and welding. He played AYSO soccer for several years. He has been working at Calpoly housing on the janitorial staff attending Cuesta College. He is working towards a welding certificate. Alex has been hard working and gets along with people. Alex has no criminal record, including the fact that he has never been arrested, charged or convicted of a DUI before in his life.

It is with great concern that I read that Alex is publicly charged with being intoxicated even before the results of any blood tests are released for either Alex Gonzales or the other young man, Jackson Garland, who was tragically killed in Wednesday’s accident. It is both reckless and insensitive to the reputation and memory of both young men to make such a premature claims in the absence of any proof.

After speaking with my client’s family, I fully expect the toxicology of Alex’s blood to support the claim that he was not under the influence of any alcohol or drugs. For the sake of the preservation of the memory and good reputation of Jackson Garland, who was tragically killed in this accident, for the sake of his surviving family and friends I also hope the post mortem toxicology clears him of any wrongdoing. Sometimes tragedies like this one really are just accidents, not crimes.

Also of concern, the Tribune and other news outlets have already reported that the SLO DA intends to proceed with felony DUI charges because that has long (as in 30 years) been precluded by law since January 1984 when the California legislature re-wrote both the Vehicle Code and the Penal Code so that DUI could only be charged when injuries not leading to death occur, but when death occurs the case must proceed only upon the more specific charge of vehicular manslaughter.

See Wilkoff v. Superior Court, 38 Cal.3d 345 (1985) footnote 6:
[6] While the moral culpability of a drunk driver who causes death and a drunk driver under the same circumstances who merely causes injury may be the same, the Legislature has chosen to draw a line at this point by defining one crime in terms of an act of violence against the person (“unlawful killing”) and placing it in the Penal Code, while defining the other in terms of an act of driving and placing it in the Vehicle Code. The Legislature has made this line even more clear through recent amendments to the drunk driving and manslaughter statutes. Effective January 1, 1984, an intoxicated driver who kills another person is no longer chargeable with that death under the Vehicle Code, but may only be charged under the manslaughter statutes of the Penal Code. (See Stats. 1983, ch. 937, § 1, p. ___, amending § 23153 and Pen. Code, § 192.)

Therefore, on Monday morning, for all reasons stated herein, I will be filing specific legal objections to any DUI charges, as well as moving for a significant bail reduction. I will be happy to provide the media with the legal brief upon request.