Gabriel Enriquez, a Tucson father of two, was killed last year when he was hit by a drunken driver on Interstate 10.
The accident should never have happened. Ryan Membrila was awaiting trial for a prior DUI arrest and probably shouldn't have been driving at all, let alone driving drunk.
Membrila pleaded guilty last month to manslaughter and aggravated DUI. Last week, he was sentenced to 10 1/2 years in prison, the Arizona Daily Star reports.
Enriquez was driving with a friend on I-10 last September when their car stalled. The driver pulled over into the emergency lane and walked off to buy gas.
Enriquez was walking behind the car, talking on his cell phone, when Membrila reportedly entered the emergency lane and hit Enriquez, killing him. Arizona Department of Public Safety officers estimated Membrila was going 81 to 90 mph at the time of the accident.
He also had a blood alcohol concentration more than twice the legal limit, according to authorities. Last month, Membrila pleaded guilty to his charges and apologized, saying it was hard for him to get up in the morning knowing he'd caused Enriquez's family so much pain.
Any person who recklessly kills someone while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is guilty of manslaughter under Arizona law. In general, aggravated DUI charges arise when certain aggravating factors exist that elevate a DUI offense to the level of a felony.
Factors include getting a third DUI in seven years, driving on a suspended or canceled license, and having a child in the car at the time of the DUI. While authorities haven't disclosed what aggravating factors led to the charge in this case, Membrila may have been driving on a suspended license at the time of the accident, since he was awaiting trial for a prior DUI offense.
Enriquez's family members asked the judge to impose the maximum 21-year sentence. However, Pima County Superior Court Judge Javier Chon-Lopez sentenced Membrila to half that. Once Membrila is out, he'll have to have an ignition interlock device installed in his car for two years.
- Tucson man sentenced to prison in fatal DUI crash (CBS 5 News)
- Arizona DUI Laws (FindLaw)
- DUI Charges (FindLaw)
- Man Charged With Murder in I-10 Wreck That Killed 14-Year-Old (FindLaw's Phoenix DUI Law Blog)