|Patricia Ann Izquieta booking photo. COURTESY OF ORANGE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE.|
The woman pictured above, Patricia Ann Izquieta, a Riverside resident, pleaded guilty today to driving under the influence of prescription drugs on the day that she killed Donald Murphy. On December 9, 2009, Murphy was riding his bicycle with two friends on Jamboree Road in Newport Beach. Izquieta’s SUV struck Murphy from behind while he was cycling and then Izquieta fled the scene, dragging Murphy’s bicycle for over a mile. Murphy died the next day due to severe head and neck trauma.
Izquieta was arrested soon after and was found to have been under the influence of methadone and clonazepam at the time of the incident. These drugs are known to impair driving and motor skills but are legal prescription drugs. She was charged with one felony count of hit and run with death or permanent injury, one felony count of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and one misdemeanor count of driving without a valid license with a sentencing enhancement for causing great bodily injury. Her expected sentence is about three years in prison.
Driving under the influence of any substance is very dangerous and can lead to injury to or death of you, your passengers, other drivers and passengers or pedestrians. If you are unsure if your prescription drugs may affect your driving, ask your doctor before operating a vehicle. Often, people feel that if they are under the influence of a prescription drug while driving, they will not receive a DUI since the drug is legal. This is untrue. A person may receive a DUI charge or a sentencing enhancement for driving while being under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs AND legal prescription medications.
Additionally, once a person gets into an accident with another person or vehicle, California law requires the driver to stop, get out of the car, and handle the situation by either exchanging contact information (for a simple fender bender) or waiting for the police to arrive (for more serious accidents). If you flee the scene of an accident, you will be charged with a hit and run offense.