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Drunk driver cleared of manslaughter but still faces DUI charge

A La Mesa, California, woman accused of vehicular manslaughter was acquitted of the criminal charges by the District Attorney's Office. The woman was involved in a New Years Day car accident with killed a 53-year-old pedestrian from Mission Valley. The victim's brother stated that he was on his way to a nearby trolley station after having a few drinks at a New Year's Eve party and not feeling sober enough to get behind the wheel.

While San Diego County courts have decided not to pursue manslaughter charges, a spokesperson for the District Attorney's Office stated that the defendant would be cited for driving under the influence and driving with a measurable blood alcohol level. She could also face a wrongful death claim from the victim's family, which would help the family deal with the financial burden of their loss.

The accident occurred one hour after the New Year began, as the defendant was driving her Mustang near Severin and Murray Drives. Officers at the scene of the crime suspected that the La Mesa woman had been drinking and delivered a sobriety test.

After the defendant failed the test, officers arrested her for drunken driving and transported her to a local jail. The woman later paid the $100,000 dollar bail and was released as investigators continued to look into the case.

While cleared of the vehicular manslaughter charge, the reckless La Mesa driver is far from off the hook. If convicted of driving under the influence, she faces fines, years of probation and possible jail time. If the victim's family decides to file a wrongful death suit, she could also be required to pay a large amount in compensation to cover burial costs, lost wages, and other financial burdens.

Source: La Mesa Patch, "Schoolteacher Spared Manslaughter Charge in New Year's Day Fatality." Ken Stone, 11 February 2011.

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