Johnny Gilbert was arrested for a vehicular homicide and assault, stemming from a car accident in which Gilbert is also suspected of committing a DUI. Just after midnight on Christmas, Gilbert ran a red light at the intersection of East 51st Avenue and Peoria Street in Denver. Following the crash, Gilbert fled the scene, but police were able to find Gilbert and he was identified as the suspect by witnesses. Dora Gaytan-Esparza died in the collision and three of her family members were injured. Gilbert was taken to the hospital for a blood draw. The police indicated that Gilbert reeked of alcohol and marijuana, mumbled and slurred his words and had poor balance.
Because Gilbert was suspected of being under the influence at the time of the crash, he has been charged with multiple felonies. He is charged with vehicular homicide for the death of Ms. Gaytan-Esparza and vehicular assault for the injured passengers. He is also likely charged with DUI and hit and run. Had Gilbert caused the collision, but not been drunk, he may have only been charged with careless driving causing death and careless driving causing injury. Careless driving is a traffic offense, punishable by jail while vehicular homicide and assault are high level felonies punishable by significant prison time.
In addition, because of the death and serious injuries, the police have a right to force a blood draw. In a DUI case in which there are no serious injuries, the police can request a blood or breath test, but ultimately, cannot force a person to submit to a test. In situations such as Gilbert’s, the police can take a blood sample without the suspect’s consent. In this particular situation, the prosecution will likely request that the blood sample be tested to determine the amount of alcohol as well as the level of marijuana in Gilbert’s system. Because a blood sample was taken, the prosecution does not yet know the results of that testing.