Julie Watts Investigating


RIO LINDA (CBS13) — The driver, Ronny Haines Ward, who caused the crash that seriously injured a pregnant mother, prompting an emergency c-section, was arrested on suspicion of DUI after the crash. He was booked into Sacramento County Jail, but records show Ward has since been released from custody.

Ronny Ward’s booking photo. (Credit: Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department)

CBS13 has confirmed that Ward declined a breathalyzer at the crash, opting for a blood test instead. It can take up to 30 days to get lab results, and without them, the District Attorney says they simply do not have enough evidence to charge him with a DUI.

But now that baby RJ has died, they could also charge Ward with manslaughter. Officers say the decision to release him Wednesday night was made before they knew the baby died.

The DA would need evidence of reckless driving or negligence in order to arrest him on manslaughter now. CBS13 has confirmed tonight, this is not Ward’s first DUI arrest. That was back in 2014 when he was just 19-years-old.

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The DA said they did not have sufficient evidence to charge him back then either, so they tell us they asked the CHP to cite him with an infraction instead. Stating, “On 3/12/14 the California Highway Patrol (Sacramento’s North division) referred a misdemeanor driving under the influence of alcohol and driving with a blood-alcohol level above .08% arrest to our office for a criminal filing decision. At that time the suspect was out of custody and scheduled to appear on 4/22/14.  We rejected the case based on insufficient evidence. The subject was under 21 years of age at the time, so our office referred the case back to California Highway Patrol to file a violation of vehicle code section 23140, an infraction, at the Carol Miller Justice Center. Vehicle Code section 23140 makes it unlawful for anyone under 21 years of age to drive with a blood alcohol above .05%.“

Now neither the courts nor the DMV have any record of that and CHP says they don’t believe he got ever that infraction. However, DMV records show
Ward was convicted for driving with a suspended license just months after the DUI arrest and was convicted of driving without a license in 2017.

Ward has three accident reports in 2018 and his license was suspended twice last year, once for lack of insurance, the other time for negligence. We know he was driving on a suspended license at the time of his arrest.