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Head-on collision kills one, police suspect DUI

A 53-year-old Oceanside woman was killed only two days before Christmas when a 22-year-old man driving a pickup truck crossed into oncoming traffic on Route 76 and smashed head-on into the woman's vehicle. She was pronounced dead at the scene. The car accident also injured her three passengers, the woman's daughter, grandson and husband, who were rushed to Palomar Medical Center for treatment.

According to one witness, the pickup truck was swerving all over the road and crossed a double yellow line prior to the fatal accident. After the crash, California Highway Patrol officers discovered large amounts of marijuana in the 22-year-old's vehicle, leading them to believe the driver was under the influence of drugs at the time of the collision.

The man has now been charged with vehicular manslaughter, possession of marijuana and other charges, but pled not guilty and was released on $100,000 bail. If convicted, he will face up to a year in jail.

Driving under the influence of drugs can be just as bad as drinking and driving, or even worse. The science of blood alcohol content measuring is well-accepted and equipment for gauging BAC is standard equipment in police cars. However, proving the influence of drugs like marijuana -- which can remain dormant in the body for days after being consumed -- can be more difficult.

Whether or not the man is convicted of the vehicular manslaughter charge or any other DUI offense, the man could be found civilly liable for damages to the family who lost a beloved member and suffered extensive injuries. Regardless of the marijuana possession and alleged use, the law allows victims of negligent or reckless behavior to be made whole by those responsible. An experienced personal injury attorney can help evaluate the available options and legal remedies.

Source: CBS 8, "Man pleads not guilty to causing fatal accident while driving under the influence," Dec. 31, 2012

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