BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A man who used methamphetamine before getting behind the wheel and crashing into a tow truck, killing its driver, was sentenced Tuesday to time served.

Grant Miller was sentenced to 16 months’ time served and ordered to pay restitution in an amount to be determined to the family of tow truck driver Robert Garcia Jr., who was standing by his truck on the shoulder of northbound Highway 99 when hit. Garcia had been helping a stranded motorist at the time of the Oct. 15, 2020, crash.

Last month, a jury acquitted Miller, 50, of gross vehicular manslaughter, instead convicting him of the lesser charge of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated with ordinary negligence.

Miller had faced one of three possible terms: 16 months, two years or four years. But given the amount of custody credits Miller earned — he had been in jail from October 2020 until his conviction, when his bail was lowered and he was released — he would have remained out of custody even if the four-year term was imposed.

Judge John W. Lua said he grappled with whether to sentence Miller to the low or middle term. The jury found it true that Garcia had been “particularly vulnerable,” an aggravating factor filed in the case, and Lua weighed that against mitigating circumstances, including remorse expressed by Miller. He then sentenced Miller to the low term.

Prosecutor Tara Deal, who had asked for the upper term, afterward said Garcia “had no chance to protect himself, and he was unguarded, defenseless, and vulnerable to Miller’s decision to drive while under the influence of methamphetamine.”

Deal noted a change in state law took effect this year which impacts sentencing when there are three possible terms available. Previously, a judge had discretion to impose any of the three terms.

Now, however, there must be an aggravating factor for the court to hand down an upper term. Otherwise, the law says, the judge must impose a sentence “no greater” than the middle term.

In this case, although an aggravating factor was found true, Lua believed the mitigating factors justified the low term.

Miller’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Kevin Moran, said afterward the court made the right decision.

“The low term was appropriate in this case because the court found three mitigating factors under the law and found that the one aggravating factor found true by the jury could not be used to aggravate the sentence because that would be an impermissible dual use of facts,” Moran said.

Dual use of facts, in this context, Moran said, refers to the legal rule that a fact that must be proven in order for the jury to find the defendant guilty of the charge cannot also be used to impose the upper term on that charge.

Miller nodded off while driving and his SUV crossed multiple lanes of Highway 99, drifted onto the shoulder and hit the tow truck and Garcia, who was killed instantly. The crash happened on northbound Highway 99 south of Woollomes Avenue.

According to court documents and testimony, Miller admitted smoking meth when he got off work then began driving from Tehachapi to his home in Fresno.

Moran argued at trial that Miller fell asleep because he was tired, not because of meth use.

California Highway Patrol officers and even a defense witness testified Miller’s drug use left him impaired, Deal told the jury during her closing argument. She said Miller was crashing from meth use when he hit the truck.

Miller began using meth at 16, and told officers he typically smokes upon waking up, and again after leaving work, according to court testimony.

“There is always a risk that someone will reoffend and, unfortunately, there is a strong likelihood of recidivism for a long-term and consistent methamphetamine user such as Grant Miller,” Deal said.