Candles, balloons, flowers, and even stuffed animals lined a wall on the corner of Panama Lane and Hammond Way in Bakersfield Thursday night. This was all to pay respects to two people who lost their lives in a devastating DUI crash.
“If you’ve already been convicted of a DUI, you receive something called a ‘Watson Admonition’” Partner at law firm, Chain Cohn Stiles, Matt Clark said. “Basically, it’s you acknowledging that drinking and driving is dangerous and you can kill someone.”
It wasn’t the first DUI, but her second, where according to the Bakersfield Police Department, 46-year-old Lisa Core drove under the influence of a controlled substance–causing the death of a 10-year-old girl and 19-year-old man in South Bakersfield Wednesday afternoon.
While Clark said this is one of the worst DUI cases he’s seen in his 20-year career, driving under the influence arrests happen way too often.
“There is only one other county in California where you are statistically more likely to be killed by a drunk or impaired driver than you are in Kern County,” Clark said. “That is embarrassing. That is a disgusting statistic. That should embarrass our community leaders. It should embarrass the judges in our community.”
The first two offenses are misdemeanors, according to national statistics local law firm Chain Cohn Stiles shared with 23ABC from MADD Kern County. Even if it’s the first or the second time, Clark said it can result in a felony when driving under the influence results in an injury or a death.
“When it comes to a death in a drunk drive case or in this instance, a drug driving case, you can actually charge someone with murder,” Clark said. “We’re one of the rare states where you can do that. That law actually originated out of Kern county. The local Mothers Against Drunk Driving Representative Carla Pearson, when she lost her son, she made it a point in CA to make that the law.”
The penalties can vary. At a minimum DUI offender who causes a death and is charged with negligent-vehicular-manslaughter while intoxicated, can face up to a year in jail and a maximum of one thousand dollars in fines, according to drivinglaws.org.
If they’re convicted of second-degree murder, that’s a felony, and can result in 15 years to life in prison.
Clark said even with a misdemeanor, “slap on the wrist” may not solve the issue.
“In our community, what you typically see happen in a DUI of a misdemeanor case the person receives a minimal sentence, and on that first DUI, it means they’re certainly not going to do any jail time, they're going to pay a fine, they’re going to be placed on probation, their license is likely suspended. The second and third DUI are more severe,” Clark said. “But none of it is apparently severe enough to change people’s behavior.”
According to those national statistics Chain Cohn Stiles shared from MADD Kern County, the penalties are as follows:
"1st offense misdemeanor DUI: Up to 6 months in county jail; $390-1000 in fines; driver’s license suspension for 4 to 10 months; 3 or 9 months of DUI school
2nd offense misdemeanor DUI: 96 hours to 1 year in county jail; $390-1000 in fines; driver’s license suspension for 2 years; 18 or 30 months of DUI school
3rd offense misdemeanor DUI: 120 days to 1 year in county jail; $390-1000 in fines; driver’s license suspension for 3 years; 30 months of DUI school
DUI with injury (misdemeanor): 5 days to 1 year in county jail; $390-5000 in fines plus restitution to injured parties; driver’s license suspension for 1 to 3 years; 3, 18 or 30 months of DUI school
1st offense DUI with injury (felony): 16 months to 16 years in state prison; $1015-5000 in fines plus restitution to injured parties; driver’s license suspension for 1 year; 18 or 30 months of DUI school"
The Bakersfield Police Department said this is an ongoing investigation. 23ABC will continue to bring more information as soon as it comes into the newsroom.
*CORRECTION: It was previously mentioned that Core had four DUI convictions but BPD released an official investigation showing that Core was not charged as a 4th time DUI offender.