Truck Driver Testifies in Atwal DUI Trial


By Nora Dahl

MODESTO, CA – The trial of Manpreet Atwal, charged with a felony under the influence/DUI about five years ago, proceeded here in Stanislaus County Superior Court Thursday.

The case was previously reported:

Jury Trial Proceeds in Auto Accident in Death – Accused Trying to Get DUI Felony Reduced to Misdemeanor

Thursday, the defense brought in a 65-year-old truck driver and witness who called 911 at the scene of Atwal’s automobile accident five years ago.

The truck driver could not recall the exact date of the accident, but he was certain that it occurred in January, describing the vehicles that were involved in the collision; in his words what was “one white car and an RV.”

The truck driver stated that the white car was going “65 or more,” then after pausing for a brief moment the witness added that he is “not an expert on speeds.”

The prosecutor asked if the truck driver had ever “seen someone traveling at 100 miles an hour while working [driving his truck].”

Reflecting, the truck driver declared that he had “possibly” seen something like this over his years as a driver, but that the white car was “not traveling at that rate of speed.”

Martinez asked if the white car, Atwal’s vehicle, was traveling at an “excessive”’ speed.

The truck driver said that he did not think that Atwal was driving at an excessive speed probably “55-65 miles per hour” on a road with “light rain.”

When the prosecutor again asked the truck driver if he was certain that he had not witnessed any vehicle traveling at an excessive speed, a somewhat fed up witness flatly answered with a simple “no.”

The truck driver said that he personally defines an “excessive” speed as one which is “probably 80 miles per hour or greater.”

The truck driver said the white car driver was staying in his lane and not weaving, and noted that once the car had passed him he paid little to no attention to it. There was simply nothing noticeable that he could recall, he said.

But the truck driver said a curved roadway that eventually led to the accident was where he saw the white car veer to the left, looking like it had “lost control.” The witness thought that the white car was going to hit a barrier, but instead it veered back to the right where Atwal went right in front of the RV and then over the embankment.

The truck driver stated that he didn’t “actually see the collision.”

The 65-year-old truck driver immediately pulled over and called 911, with the help of a homeless man [unnamed] who helped the truck driver make the call.

The homeless man, who appeared to be around the truck dirver’s own age, talked to the police and gave them some basic information, as the paramedics arrived.

The witness also stated that he never got the homeless man’s name or talked to him again.

The truck driver also stated that he never saw Atwal and that he certainly did not see the man help the people that he crashed into.

The courtroom went silent, as there were no further questions at this time.

Judge Shawna Reeves spoke up, stating that the court was going to break until Monday ,when the truck driver would re-take the witness stand.


About The Author

Nora Dahl is a second year History of Public Policy and Law major, and English minor, at UC Santa Barbara. She enjoys writing, advocating for social justice, and pyschology. Nora speaks fluent Norwegian and English. She plans to graduate Spring 2024, and hopes to attend law school.

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