After 1st DUI Led to Manslaughter, Man’s 2nd DUI Could Mean 3 Years in Prison

By Roxanna Jarvis

SACRAMENTO – James Epperson pleaded no contest this week in Sacramento County Superior Court to his second DUI (driving under the influence) charge in the past 10 years—his last DUI killed someone in 2011.

This time Epperson could be sentenced for up to three years in prison.

Currently, Epperson is charged on three counts: driving under the influence of alcohol (felony), driving with a B.A. of .08 percent or more (felony), and hit and run property damage (misdemeanor).

When it comes to being convicted of driving under the influence, Epperson is no stranger. On June 18, 2011, it was alleged that Epperson drove drunk and got into an accident, resulting in the death of an individual.

“[Epperson] was said to be driving a vehicle, and he swerved the vehicle into the sidewalk, overcorrected, and collided with a parked sedan. He then collided with another parked vehicle and went into the garage of a home. He then drove away from the scene,” explained Deputy District Attorney Kenda Havlik.

Havlik said the vehicle was later found with major front-end damage and Epperson was what appeared to be under the influence.

In this 2011 incident, Epperson was charged with 1. Driving under the influence of an alcoholic beverage, causing injury to someone other than yourself; and 2. Vehicular manslaughter.

Due to his past conviction, two of the three charges currently against Epperson were increased from misdemeanors to felonies.

“[This is] a state prison sentence,” stated Judge Michael Sweet. “It could be up to three years. Sixteen months is low-term, middle-term is two years, and the upper-term is three years.”

While the full details of the current offenses weren’t disclosed, it was explained during Epperson’s plea of hit and run property damage on Nov. 24, 2019, Epperson was the driver of a vehicle involved in an accident which caused damage to property. Instead of obeying the law and staying at the scene of the incident, Epperson continued driving.

Epperson’s blood alcohol at the time was .28 percent, higher than the BAC needed to charge for excessive BAC (0.15 percent).

After pleading no contest to all three counts, Judge Sweet found Epperson guilty of the charges against him.

Jan. 13, 2021, was the agreed-upon sentencing date.

Sweet then told Epperson that his case would be referred to probation for their report recommendation, noting, “I’ll see what they recommend, all right?”

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About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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