Attorney Jacqueline Goodman was
interviewed by a reporter from the
San Bernardino Sun and asked to comment on last Sunday's fatal
DUI crash in Diamond Bar. Six people were killed when 21-year-old Olivia Cullbreath
sped onto the 60 freeway traveling east in the westbound lanes.
Officers arrested Cullbreath on suspicion of manslaughter and felony drunk
driving. She is currently awaiting charges. CHP also reported that Cullbreath
is hospitalized at Los Angeles County-USC medical center, but little is
known about her condition.
According to Goodman, Cullbreath might be charged with
implied malice murder given the gross negligence of driving 100mph the wrong way on the freeway,
coupled with the fact that Cullbreath had a prior DUI on her record. Cullbreath
could face a 15-to-life sentence for each of the victims if she is convicted under
§ 192.5 of the California Penal Code.
With manslaughter, there is death but no intent to take someone's life.
What shifts a manslaughter charge to a murder charge is intent. While
Cullbreath did not get behind the wheel of her car on Sunday intending
to kill people, her actions were so reckless that they could be interpreted
as a conscious disregard of the risk to human life, which could constitute
implied malice murder.
Although Goodman stated she believes a lengthy imprisonment is an appropriate
punishment for Cullbreath, this does little to stop others from drunk
driving. Many advocates for alternative sentencing believe education and
counseling is the answer, or at least part of it.
According to Goodman, the millions spent on housing inmates convicted of
serious DUI offenses could be better spent on creative ways to curb these
tragic events – efforts such as public service announcements and
ad campaigns. California must push the message that drinking and driving
is not just illegal and something you can be punished for, but something
that can have tragic consequences, much like many of the recent texting
while driving campaigns such as AT&T's "It Can Wait."
"I just think we have an obligation to do what we can to avoid a future
tragedy," said Goodman.