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Name: People v. Ortiz
Case #: A095534
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 05/23/2003
Subsequent History: None
Summary

Defendant was charged with second degree “vehicular murder ,” consisting of crossing a double yellow line at a high rate of speed, resulting in a head-on crash. There was a stipulation that there was no evidence defendant had consumed alcohol before the crash. Nevertheless, the Court of Appeal held that evidence of seven past incidents in which defendant had either been convicted of reckless driving, convicted of reckless drunk driving , or been seen driving recklessly, and his participation in a mandatory educational program on the dangers of drinking and driving were admissible. Because the People were required to show that the defendant was subjectively aware of the risk that his reckless driving created, the evidence was admissible for the purpose of showing this knowledge by defendant. Whether caused by inebriation or wilful irresponsibility, a driver’s subsequent apprehension, prosecution , and punishment for reckless driving may impart an increased understanding of risk created by such behavior.