A year ago, 27-year-old Daniel Ivan Reyes was riding his motorcycle on his way to pick up a movie for his son and never made it back home.
Richard Gideon Hammond, also 27 years of age, that same morning, decided to smoke marijuana and headed out to run an errand but ended up driving close to the Mexican border.
Richard Hammond decided to make a U-turn on Interstate 5 and began north the wrong way, into the southbound lanes. He drove three miles before crashing head-on into Reyes at full speed, killing the motorcyclist instantly on December 3, 2016, just north of Dairy Mart Road.
This past Wednesday, the Reyes’ family pleaded to the judge to impose Hammond to maximum sentence in prison as they read statements about how much they missed the father of two boys, ages 2 and 5 when he died.
Chula Vista Superior Court Judge Garry Haehnle convicted Hammond for one count of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and sentenced to six years in prison.
“He chose to smoke marijuana. He chose to drive a car,” Haehnle said. “It seems to me this guy doesn’t have any clue of what happened that night.”
Even though California has legalized the medical use of marijuana for decades and more recently legalized the recreational use of marijuana, it is still unlawful to drive while under the influence. There is no exception made to this even for those who are prescribed or recommended the use of marijuana by a doctor. However, a prosecutor must show that not only was the person under the influence of marijuana but that they were actually impaired.