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La Mesa DUI Crash Results in the Death of a Pedestrian

The San Diego Sheriff’s Department announced a pedestrian was killed in a suspected DUI crash just after 1:00am on New Year’s. This is San Diego County’s second fatal DUI collision this holiday season. The first occurred on December 18th, 2010, in El Cajon.

The DUI incident happened on Murray Drive in La Mesa, according to 10news.com. The pedestrian was identified as Kelly McPherson of Mission Valley. The driver of the Ford Mustang was identified as Dana Lohner of La Mesa, a fourth grade teacher at Freese Elementary School. She was released after posting $100,000 bail and is due in court on January 10th, 2011. Pending the outcome of the La Mesa Police Department’s investigation, Ms. Lohner may also be charged with vehicular manslaughter.

There are two possible vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated charges: Gross vehicular manslaughter and vehicular manslaughter. [Penal Code Section 191.5(a) and (b) respectively.]

Gross vehicular manslaughter is a felony and is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for 4, 6, or 10 years. In addition, if the defendant has one or more prior convictions, the punishment shall be imprisonment in state prison for a term of 15 years to life.

Vehicular manslaughter is considered a “wobbler” which means it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. If deemed to be a misdemeanor, the penalty is imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year. However, if charged and convicted as a felony, the punishment is imprisonment in the state prison for 16 months or 2 or 4 years.