Modesto Man Convicted of DUI Crash, Sentenced to 15 Years to Life in Prison.


By Neha Malhi and Tori Gacutan

MODESTO, CA – Manpreet Singh Atwal has been sentenced to 15 years to life in prison for second degree murder, hit and run drunk driving by Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Dawna Reeves.

Atwal was convicted of killing a woman, and severely injuring two people. Defense Attorney Preciliano Martinez represented him in the court and the Deputy District Attorney was Vita Palazuelos.

According to a statement issued by the Office of the District Attorney Stanislaus County, Atwal was convicted on May 26 following a jury trial. The DA said he overturned a motorhome on Highway 99 south of Crows Landing Road.

In this collision, a victim died on the spot while her husband and son suffered serious injuries.

After crashing into a motorhome, Atwal continued to drive before he parked and fled the scene.

CHP Officer Matt McCain found Atwal’s blood in the car, as well as his phone. When questioned by Officer Matt McCain, Atwal said he was with his girlfriend and that his car was stolen.

Officer McCain suspected Atwal was driving under the influence, performed sobriety tests which confirmed he was, and arrested him.

Officer McCain found Atwal’s blood alcohol content (BAC) was 0.11 percent and 0.12 percent. The standard or limit content percentage number is 0.08 percent, meaning that Atwal was clearly intoxicated. Atwal was found to be driving around 96 to 99 miles per hour, while the car he crashed into was on cruise control going 60 miles per hour.

Atwal also had a prior DUI conviction. In 2012 he was convicted of a DUI and was ordered to take DUI classes, which he completed.

On Friday, June 24, the daughter of the victim made a statement in court regarding Atwal, noting her mother, “who is an immigrant, survived the bullets from World War II, but did not survive the actions of Atwal’s drunk and reckless driving.”

She added, “Two positives arise from this situation. First, you, Mr. Atwal will not be able to harm any other living being. Until you’re released, citizens of Stanislaus County can breathe easy knowing you will be unable to murder one of their own…your own daughter will not be influenced by your deceitful self-indulgent behaviors.”

Despite Defense Attorney Martinez requesting Atwal be granted probation, Judge Reeves denied Atwal any possibility of shortening his sentence and any probation due to the ineligibility of murder charges and the felony of a hit and run.


About The Author

Neha Malhi is graduating from UCLA this summer with BA in Economics. she is from LA, California.

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