Felony DUI charge to be reduced; Defendant will plead to misdemeanor

May 14, 2014 1:50 PM

A former Butte College student is expected to plead guilty this afternoon to a misdemeanor count of driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs after hitting a pedestrian at Walnut Street and West 1st Street in Chico in December of 2012.

Matthew Lambert, 21, was originally charged with felony DUI for hitting Chico State senior Brandon Fisher as he crossed the street.

Further investigation by defense and traffic collision experts cast doubt on earlier conclusions that Lambert was speeding or had sufficient time to avoid the collision.

Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey said the new expert opinions left his office unable to prove Lambert was at legal fault in the collision. Ramsey said driving under the influence and colliding with a pedestrian does not, under the law, support a felony DUI conviction unless the driver violates a separate non-DUI vehicle code section or acts in a negligent way. Ramsey said there was doubt even a sober person could have avoided the collision.

Fisher and his family have been informed of the decision to reduce the charges, and are expected to address the judge this afternoon when Lambert is sentenced.


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