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Name: People v. Mace
Case #: F060054
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 08/19/2011
Summary

The obligations of a driver under Vehicle Code sections 20001 and 20003 extend to the owner of the vehicle who is riding in the vehicle with full authority to direct and control the operation of the vehicle and the onus is on him to check on the welfare of others to determine if anyone is injured and if assistance is necessary. Mace’s sister was discovered with a dislocated hip and hypothermia in the passenger side of his truck which had sheared off a power pole. He was found sleeping at his niece’s home near the accident scene and in possession of the truck keys. Mace denied memory of an accident and claimed that he had not been driving. He testified that he woke up in his truck, saw his sister passed out behind the wheel, did not realize anything was wrong, and removed the keys so that she would not drive it away. The jury was instructed that the duties of a nondriving owner of a vehicle are the same as those imposed on the driver. The duty arises when the person “knew that the accident had occurred, knew that he was involved in the accident, and either knew that the other person had been injured or from the nature of the accident it was probable that another person had been injured.” (CALJIC No. 12.70.) The instruction was appropriate and the owner is not relieved of any duty due to the driver having caused the accident or the lack of apparently observable injuries.