Substance Abuse Counselor Found Guilty in DUI Death

A 52-year-old California woman was found guilty in the death of a 31-year-old man. In 2012, the woman, who was also a substance abuse counselor, hit the pedestrian with her car and continued driving for over two miles with the man still stuck in her windshield as he was dying. Her blood alcohol content at the time of the death was twice the legal limit.

The sentencing for the pedestrian accident, however, contained more than just a conviction for DUI; the woman was also convicted of second-degree murder and hit-and-run. She was sentenced to 55 years to life in prison for what the presiding judge called a "callous murder." The judge also noted that he took the woman's prior 1994 burglary conviction into account, and he also considered the fact that she engaged in drug smuggling while in prison.

The judge further explained that the woman was fully aware of the risks that came with drinking and driving, as she worked as a substance abuse counselor. The woman made a statement to family members of the victim that she was sorry for the pain they faced, but it was not well-received by them.

In cases like this one, in which a family loses a loved one as a result of a driver's reckless conduct, criminal penalties may be levied against the person responsible. However, criminal penalties often do not benefit the family of the deceased. For surviving family members, it may be beneficial to talk to a lawyer about the possibility of a wrongful death suit. If compensation is recovered, it may cover funeral expenses and other costs associated with the death, such as loss of income and loss of companionship.

Source: CBS, "Substance abuse counselor gets lengthy sentence for DUI death", June 12, 2014

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