The Watson Murder Laws
05/ 07 / 16 Filed in: DUI | Legal
Once you’re convicted of a DUI, your life doesn’t change much. As days go by the shame and the guilt fades, your suspensions clear, your probation goes away, you can get the charge expunged, and after 10 years, your DUI can’t be used as a prior conviction should you get another DUI.
However, there is one thing that does change for good - in California part of your conviction requires you to sign a “Watson Advisement” - which says that if you drive under the influence again and cause a fatality you may be charged with second degree murder.
There is no way to avoid signing the Watson Advisement. Technically, you can be charged with a Watson Murder the first time you’re driving under the influence and cause a fatality, but it’s hard to get the Watson laws to stick to that. Basically the Watson Advisement ups the penalties for repeat offenders.
The murder charge becomes second-degree because it acknowledges that you didn’t set out to murder the victim, but you that your taking of alcohol (or other drugs) and driving a car were both intentional acts and created “implied malice”.
A Watson Murder can result in 15 years in prison, a $10,000 fine, and a strike under the “three strikes” law.
Once you’ve signed the Watson Advisement its provisions do not expire. You can be charged 50 years after your DUI if you cause a fatality while driving under the influence.
The biggest lesson to learn from your first DUI is to find ways to avoid drinking and driving. If the possibility of being considered a murderer doesn’t do it, I don’t know what will.