Fatal San Diego Drunk Driving Car Accident Goes to Jury Trial

A San Diego area man's "I don't care" attitude led him to drive while intoxicated which caused a chain-reaction accident that killed a retiree, a prosecutor said Wednesday, January 19, 2011, but a defense lawyer said his client was unconscious at the time of the crash and should be acquitted as a result.  In the closing argument in the trial of Anthony Guarino, Deputy District Attorney Chandelle Konstanzer said the 57-year-old defendant admitted he was impaired when he left a bar after drinking in National City, California.  The prosecutor said Mr. Guarino had approximately 11 shots of Jack Daniels whiskey at the bar before driving almost 30 miles to North San Diego County.  Mr. Guarino was driving approximately 50-60 mph when the car accident happened at the intersection in Carmel Mountain Ranch on the evening of Aug. 20, 2010 according to police records.  Sadly, Mr. Marc Durham, 65, who had retired from his job a week earlier at General Dynamics, died at the car accident scene. Five other people were injured; among those others injured was a 9-year-old boy.

The prosecutor said "The defendant acted with an `I don't care' type of attitude."  Mr. Guarino was said to have acted like "I don't care what happens. I'm going to do what I want to do," Konstanzer said.  According to one prosecution witness, the defendant's blood-alcohol level could have been as high as .20 percent that night of the car accident. Also, Mr. Guarino's blood-alcohol was measured at .15 percent about 2 1/2 hours after the 9 p.m. car accident.  "There is no way he was not under the influence of alcohol," Konstanzer told the jury members listening to the criminal case. "He (Guarino) made a poor decision, and the result was devastating."  The prosecutor argued to the jury to convict Mr. Guarino of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, DUI causing injury and driving with a blood-alcohol level of .08 percent or higher.

Mr. Guarino's defense lawyer, Mr. Brad Patton, argued to the jury that Mr. Guarino should be found not guilty because he was unconscious when he collided into the back of Mr. Durham's car. Due to a phenomenon known as "burn-off," the prosecution attorney has no idea what Mr. Guarino's blood-alcohol level was at the precise time of the car accident, Patton said.  Mr. Patton went on telling jurors that prosecutors had not proven their case beyond a reasonable doubt as a result.  Mr. Patton said Mr. Guarino should be acquitted (not charged or accused) of all charges -- except for misdemeanor DUI charge -- if jurors find that he was unconscious at the time of the vehicle accident.  

I will try and monitor this with the jury verdict.  This should be another example of why you should not drink and drive.  If you have had anything to drink, you should always call a cab or go out with a designated driver.

Mark C. Blane is a San Diego Auto Accident Attorney, and the managing lawyer of the Law Offices of Mark C. Blane, a San Diego, California Personal Injury Law Firm devoted to representing families of injured persons of automobile accidents. If you or someone you love, has been injured or killed in San Diego County, or Southern California, due to the negligence of another, please order your FREE copy of Mr. Blane's book, The 10 Secrets You Need To Know About Your Injury Case, BEFORE You Call A Lawyer. It is full of helpful information, insights, and secrets that will help you protect your legal rights.  It normally sells for $16.95; however, it is free to all California residents, or those injured in a California accident.