Criminal DUI Case Against Teen Driver Dropped Following New Evidence


Eighteen-year-old Jaques Clarke pleaded not guilty to DUI and vehicular manslaughter charges in a crash that killed a woman in December 2019. Now, almost a year later, the charges have actually been dropped. According to the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office, investigators attained evidence that showed Clarke could not have been the driver.

The DUI Crash in Salinas

The collision occurred December 20th, 2019 in Salinas, California at approximately 11:30 p.m. California Highway Patrol officers discovered a wrecked Mazda and an overturned Toyota Camry that had crashed through a residential fence. Apparently, the Mazda had been driving very fast and rear-ended the Camry driven by Rosie Figueroa. Figueroa’s car spun out of control and then ran into a large tree. Both she and her passenger could not escape the vehicle.

Unfortunately, Figueroa died at the scene and her passenger sustained major injuries. When officers arrived at the scene, Clarke and the other occupant of the Mazda had already exited the car. None of the witnesses could confirm which of the two had been the driver.

Due to the car being registered under Clarke’s name and the key fob being found in his pocket, investigators concluded that he had been the driver. They then evaluated Clarke and found him to be under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident. Authorities arrested him shortly after.

New Evidence Leads to Dismissal

As the case developed, investigators received conflicting testimonies from the Mazda occupants as to who was driving. They conducted a DNA analysis in January to get more visibility on the issue. The airbags of the Mazda were sent to the Department of Justice for DNA analysis more than ten months ago.

On November 9th, the DA received the analysis report, which revealed that Clarke’s DNA was on the passenger-side airbag. The new evidence proved that Clarke was in fact not the driver at the time of the crash. As the District Attorney stated, “There’s just no way he could have been driving and have his DNA on the passenger air bag at the time of the collision.”

Consequently, the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office dismissed the charges against Clarke on Friday in Monterey Superior Court in Salinas.

For Clarke, knowing his own truth, it must have been an agonizing wait to reach this conclusion. He knew that he was innocent of the DUI charges, but he needed to legally prove his innocence to the courts. Fortunately, he had good representation that knew how to tackle his case.

At the Law Offices of Taylor and Taylor, our DUI attorneys handle any case with the patience and consideration needed. If you unfortunately find yourself facing a DUI charge, feel confident in reaching out to our team to get the best representation possible.

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