A Southern California mother of two learned her fate last week for a 2012 drunk driving accident that killed a 6-year-old girl and left her sister and mother with serious brain injuries. The driver was convicted this April of second-degree murder, two counts of hit-and-run, gross vehicular manslaughter and DUI-related charges. She will be serving anywhere from 22 years to life behind bars.
Blood Alcohol Level Was Three Times Legal Limit
According to prosecutors, the 37-year-old woman's blood alcohol content was 0.24 percent when she was arrested. Police found marijuana, a pipe and two mini vodka bottles in her car. They say that she had two drinks on a recent airline flight and then stopped at two liquor stores after her plane landed in Burbank.
The woman was driving through Santa Ana when she struck the three pedestrians, who were on their way to a restaurant for breakfast. She kept driving, reportedly speeding through two red lights, until another driver blocked her car.
Defense Attorney Made Argument for Lesser Charge
The woman's attorney argued against a murder charge. He said that while his client was impaired, she wasn't aware that she had hit anyone because of her inebriated state and the fact that she was looking at her phone. He also made the argument that because she'd never had a DUI arrest before, she'd never been educated on the dangers of driving while intoxicated.
Even though the woman had no prior DUIs, or any criminal record, she received the second-degree murder charge often given to previous DUI offenders. That charge is sometimes used when a person has engaged in particularly reckless driving while under the influence, such as speeding and running red lights.
The defendant told the family that as "a mother myself, I can't even imagine the agony of losing your baby." She apologized for the "pain and sorrow that I have caused not only your family but the people that had to witness this horrific accident."
Obviously, no one wins in a situation like this. Most people who are responsible for injurious and fatal drunk driving crashes carry the burden for the rest of their lives. However, they have the right to present a defense and work towards an outcome that may involve treatment and community service rather than a long jail sentence.
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