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Name: People v. Baez
Case #: A119660
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 09/30/2008

The Legislature intended to subject defendants who commit manslaughter DUI to enhanced penalties for other DUI convictions regardless of the timing of the underlying conduct. In this case, the court considered the question of what happens when a defendant is charged with a misdemeanor DUI (Veh. Code, § 23152), and then commits a manslaughter DUI (Pen. Code, § 191.5) which results in a felony conviction before the original DUI charge is adjudicated. Appellant was initially charged with two misdemeanor DUI’s, but while the case was pending, he was arrested for, charged with, and convicted of a separate DUI and a manslaughter DUI. After that, the prosecution moved to amend the complaint in the original DUI case to charge the offenses as felonies based on the application of Vehicle Code section 23550.5, subdivision (b), which provides for felony punishment for a DUI following a conviction for manslaughter DUI. Appellant argued he could not be subject to the enhanced penalties because the underlying conduct subjecting him to those penalties occurred after the commission of the present crime being adjudicated. The court found it was permissible to subject appellant to the penalties prescribed in section 23550.5. “By its terms, the statute requires only that a DUI conviction occur subsequent to a conviction of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. Tellingly, the statute does not require the prior conviction be based on a prior violation” as do other provisions enacted by the Legislature, including the DUI penalty enhancement scheme. (Emphasis in original.) The court found support for its position in not only in the legislative history of the statute, but also in People v. Snook (1997) 16 Cal.4th 1210, where the Supreme Court considered former section 23175 (now § 23550) and concluded the enhanced penalty was applicable regardless of the order in which the offenses were committed and the convictions obtained.