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Drunk Driver Gets Prison Time for Hitting a Teen

December 10, 2012

Fred Thiagarajah

A drunk driver that struck a Newport Harbor High School student while crossing the street near her school was sentenced this past Friday to seven years in state prison.

This past September, Marnie Jo Lippincott, 39, pled guilty to a felony charge of driving under the influence.  On December 16, 2011 near Irvine Avenue and the northwestern end of Harbor High, an intoxicated Lipponcott (while driving on a suspended license) hit Crystal Morales, a 17-year-old senior who was walking home.  As a result of the incident Morales had to be placed into a physician-induced coma and since then has been attempting to recover from head injuries.

Her injuries were so extensive that her mother, Gloria Morales, has been helping her daughter with her daily tasks as if Crystal was an infant again.  Moreover, Gloria revealed that her daughter now suffers from short-term memory lost, impulsiveness, and suicidal thoughts.  A compelling example that she gave the LA Times was that her daughter has attempted to brush her teeth with shampoo when there was no toothpaste, and even bit off ChapStick as a product of being thirsty.

“I was never angry,” Gloria said, “but this is also something you can never forgive.”

Something noteworthy about the story is that, as of today, 65% of readers that have polled this story online agree that the seven-year sentence is justifiable in this case.

For the full story click here.

Lippincott pled guilty to felony Vehicle Code section 23153(a), DUI causing injury, and admitted the great bodily injury (GBI) enhancement, pursuant to Penal Code section 12022.7.  Felony DUI is a 16-2-3 crime.  That means, the low term is 16 months, the mid term is 2 years prison and the high term is 3 years prison.  A GBI enhancement, per Penal Code section 12022.7, adds on consecutive time to the underlying felony conviction.  In a case where the victim is either rendered comatose due to a brain injury or suffers permanent paralysis, a defendant is given an additional five consecutive years pursuant to Penal Code section 12022.7(b).  In this case, Lippincott was sentenced to the mid-term for the felony DUI — 2 years — and was given an additional 5 years for the GBI enhancement, thus making a total of 7 years prison.  Also, under the Realignment, a felony DUI would normally be served in county prison.  However, a GBI enhancement turns a felony DUI into a strike and therefore, the time must be served in a state prison.


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