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Fresno's famous Greyhound bus multiple fatality DUI accident may not be a DUI accident at all?

As the civil ligation and personal injury trial approaches on the infamous Fresno DUI / Greyhound bus crash that claimed six lives on July 22, 2010.  However, as the civil trial approaches there is new evidence being released to the public.  The Fresno Bee reported CHP assistant chief Steve Badilla stated in July 2011, "The conclusion of this comprehensive investigation revealed that Sylvia Garay caused the collision by driving under the influence of alcohol."

Among the facts used was that the SUV was registered to Garay's mother.  It was involved in the accident when it struck a concrete divider and overturned blocking the path of the Greyhound bus.  The investigation also concluded that the Greyhound bus could not have stopped in time to avoid the accident.  CHP reported that Three witnesses stated that Garay was the driver.  However, attorneys are now saying that the CHP conclusions are incorrect.  "Once of those witnesses says otherwise."  Also reporting that one witness now says, "I never said Sylvia Garay was driving the vehicle."

While it would be intuitive to assume that the daughter of the owner would be the likely driver, there is evidence to the contrary.  In fact, the Fresno Bee has obtained an 11 second video from earlier in that fateful night showing that Garay was not driving at the earlier time.  The cell phone video shows Vanessa Garcia driving the SUV registered to Garay's mother.  While far from disposition of Garay driving, it is strong circumstantial evidence that she may have continued being the driver.  In fact, the same CHP report that concluded Garay was driving, also concluded that Garcia had no alcohol in her system at that time of her death.  For years a deceased girl was blamed for being irresponsible and costing her life, the life of two of her friends, and three other lives.  The statistics have used this case as a 6 fatality DUI.  A person who was convicted of purchasing the alcohol that Garay consumed was sentenced to a harsher sentence (likely) because of the implication that a tragic result occurred due to her providing that alcohol to an underage driver, costing the lives of six people.  When is a DUI fatality accident not a DUI fatality accident?  When the driver is sober.

DUI's have become a political crime.  Statistics, special grants and prosecutors, lobbyists, and votes depend on getting tough on DUI's.  All of which is supported by statistics.  It makes you wonder if a car runs a stop sign, the driver is sober, and the vehicle strikes and kills a beer delivery truck driver, would it be reported as an "alcohol related" accident?

History of the case:

Conviction:  Michelle Kay Cole was convicted of purchasing alcohol for a person under the age of 21, which (may) have resulted in the deaths of six people.  The CHP report alleges that 18 year old Sylvia Garay was driving drunk when the trailblazer SUV hit a concrete barrier and overturned on freeway 99.  While the vehicle was disabled and partially blocking the lane, a Greyhound bus struck the SUV.  Garay's BAC was alleged to be .11 at the time of her death.  There were some issues regarding the Bus driver's vision, use or non use of corrective lenses, and road design have been considered factors in the case.

Fatalities: Sylvia Garay 18, James Jewet, 57, Stephanie Cordoba 20, Vanessa Gonzalez 19, Tomas Ponce, Epifina Solis 60.

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Fresno DUI Lawyer Jonathan Rooker: Fresno area law enforcement agencies have some of the strictest DUI enforcement policies in the Nation. The first decision an officer makes during the DUI enforcement is the decision to stop the vehicle. It may be a driving pattern, maintenance infraction, tinted windows, or other issues the lead the officer to make that decision. The next decision is whether to have the driver exit the vehicle and conduct a DUI investigation. Factors include odor or alcohol, red watery eyes, and slurred speech. Timely stopping, parking, and fumbling with a license or insurance paperwork, all influence the officers decision to continue the investigation. Once outside the vehicle the subject may sway or have trouble following directions. At the conclusion of the third stage, the officer decides if there is probable cause for an arrest. If you are arrested, there are steps you should take on your own behalf. It is important for anyone cited for DUI to contact the DMV within 10 days to preserve their right to an Admin Per Se Hearing in front of a DMV officer. Failure to contact the DMV within 10 days may result in the suspension of your driving privilege. Remember, the officer arrests at probable cause, but it takes proof beyond a reasonable doubt to convict. If the officer does their job right, a large percentage of the people should be found not guilty.

Fresno Criminal Defense Attorney: Sometimes good people need help during tough times

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Fresno & Madera Criminal Defense Lawyer Jonathan Rooker: Domestic Violence (DV) charges, punishments, and your rights is something you need to understand if you've been accused. DV charges can result in a sentence of probation, jail, and/or prison. DV can be charged under various sections including PC 243(E) or the more serious PC 273.5 Felony (DV) accusation. Many convictions result in being sentenced to a 52-week program, referred to as the Batterers Treatment Program (BTP). The right to own, possess, or use a Firearms, a serious issue for many people who grew up in the rural valley hunting, fishing, and target shooting can be lost forever. While Judges routinely advise those convicted of misdemeanor Domestic Violence that they will be prohibited from owning firearms for 10-years, the Federal Government will preclude gun ownership for the remainder of the persons life if they are convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence. It is important that the court knows you are a law abiding, upstanding, and productive member of society. Don't let an accusation turn into a lifetime of being stigmatized as a criminal.

"Criminal defense is about helping good people, that is what I do." Jonathan Rooker

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Experienced Fresno and Madera County Criminal Defense Attorney Jonathan Rooker understands the needs of each client are quite unique to each individual client. Some clients are looking to keep their drivers license, others are looking to avoid long periods of incarceration. Many times pride and principles are cited for the client's motivation to achieve a particular resolution to their case. Many clients just want to put their life, family, and career back together. It is the responsibility of the defense attorney to coordinate and effective defense for the benefit of the client. It is essential that I provide the best defense for the individual person and their specifically tailored needs in life. I will help you by building the best defense that the facts allow. One important aspect of hiring a private attorney is the time they spend listening to your needs, and working to obtain an effective resolution under the circumstances. When these problems arise, it's time to reach out for a helping hand. I handle criminal defense cases on a daily basis, helping people with their issues. Let me help you.