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.