Friday, May 15, 2009

6 year California DUI sentence for drunk driving death: friends don’t let friends drive drunk

DUI lawyers often face judges who could hand out 11 years of state prison in California. 23 year old Defendant Lopez was sentenced to six years in prison Wednesday in the death of Breena LeAnn Cardenas, 19, in a Californa DUI wreck.

The California DUI sentencing hearing took place in a courtroom packed with Car­de­nas’ relatives and friends wea­r­ing her photograph around their necks.

“People who do armed robbery without hurting anyone get longer sentences than drunk drivers that kill someone,” one family member said. “Angel has done this before,” she said, referring to a prior DUI conviction, “but he only got off with a slap on the wrist.”“He not only killed Breena, he killed me, too.”

Cardenas’ other family members expressed similar sentiments, and questioned whether current DUI laws and enforcement are sufficient. “Go to any of those bars in downtown and look at the cars, they’re all in there drinking,” said Cardenas’ father. “Then go look after closing, how many cars are there?”

On September 12, Lopez was DUI / driving under the influence of alcohol on Lower Lake Road - in Crescent City area - at a “high rate of speed,” when the tires of his truck dropped off the asphalt. Lopez over-corrected to the left, causing the truck to flip onto its right side and into an embankment, also injuring three other passengers. Cardenas was killed when she was thrown from the truck.

In a tearful and halting statement to the court, Lopez’s sister did not try to absolve her brother of his crime, but also sought to show how the fault was not his alone. To the family she said, “friends don’t let friends drive drunk.”

Lopez spent his own chance at addressing the court trying to talk through sobs to both his family and Cardenas’: “I’m sorry, I’m sorry to everybody. I take full responsibility for this, that’s why I’m here. I would trade places with her if I could.” The California DUI judge stated that he felt that Lopez was aware of his fault in Cardenas’ death and felt true remorse.