A 21-year-old woman in Ventura County has pled guilty to gross vehicular manslaughter for killing a friend due to driving while intoxicated. Prosecutors announced that Lindsey Shaver from Camarillo was high on marijuana when she caused a crash that resulted in another passenger sustaining fatal injuries. Shaver has been sentenced to 90 days in jail and probation.
Shaver and Laney Zambri were driving on Pacific Coast Highway on March 18th, 2021 when the crash happened. Zambri was standing through the car's sunroof, making a Snapchat video, when Shaver lost control of the vehicle causing it to flip over. Authorities said that Zambri was ejected from the vehicle when Shaver could no longer control the car.
She sustained critical injuries and was immediately hospitalized where she tragically died after a few days. It was reported that Shaver could have avoided the fatal accident by remaining in control of the vehicle if she had not been high on marijuana.
Ventura County Deputy District Attorney George Brietigam stated that Shaver's decision to get behind the wheel when high on marijuana and drive in an impaired condition took the life of her best friend. He also said that high school students need to learn about the real-life consequences of DUI involving alcohol and/or drugs.
Shaver was sentenced to three months in prison to deter others from following in her footsteps and to learn that DUI's can have tragic consequences. Shaver is also required to speak at local high schools and interact with students about the dangers of distracted and impaired driving. Authorities reported that this is part of her probation terms.
Gross Vehicular Manslaughter in California
Under California law, a prosecutor can file charges under Penal Code 191.5, if you cause another person's death while driving under the influence. There are two sections covering charges of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. Penal Code 191.5(b) involves ordinary negligence that is charged when someone makes a mistake in judgment or is simply careless.
While this is a serious offense, it has a lesser punishment as compared to charges of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, which is covered under California Penal Code Section 191.5(a). This is the unlawful killing of another person when driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This is a serious crime, which occurs when a grossly negligent individual commits DUI that takes the life of another human being.
Penalties for Gross Vehicular Manslaughter in California
Gross vehicular manslaughter is a felony offense under Penal Code 191.5(a). You could face a sentence of 4, 6, or 10 years in a California state prison followed by formal felony probation and a fine of up to $10,000. You may face a sentence of 15 years to life in a state prison if you have prior conviction under California Vehicle Code 23152 (DUI), Vehicle Code 23153 (DUI causing injury), or California Penal Code Section 191.5.
In addition, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is a serious offense and is taken into account under California's Three Strikes Law. You need a California criminal defense attorney to prepare a solid legal defense to fight for your charges involving a violation of California Penal Code Section 191.5(a).
It is important to understand that each case is unique. Based on this, there are a few common legal defenses available which include:
- There was no gross negligent conduct
- Gross negligence did not cause the victim's death
- Accused was not intoxicated at the time of the accident
- Imminent peril
You should speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible or you may find yourself with a potentially long-term prison sentence.
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