Chelsea Annmarie Stiles, 27, was convicted of vehicular manslaughter in a DUI crash that left an elderly man dead in 2019 in San Luis Obispo, California. This week, District Attorney Dan Dow announced that Stiles has been sentenced to  serve 15 years and eight months in state prison.

In December 2020, the San Louis Obispo County jury convicted Stiles of numerous offenses. However, after several days of deliberation, the jury was initially unable to reach an unanimous verdict on the most serious charge—murder. Stiles was convicted of  the following felonies: gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, driving under the influence of a drug causing death, four counts of assault with a deadly weapon using an automobile, fleeing the scene of a vehicle collision causing injury, child abuse, and a misdemeanor possession of cocaine.

The deadly crash sequence occurred on December 1, 2019 at approximately 6:00 p.m. on Highway 227. According to investigative reports, Stiles, while under the influence of cocaine, seemingly lost control of her vehicle and rear-ended an automobile carrying a family of four at over 70 miles per hour, disabling the vehicle as a result. Moments later, Stiles inexplicably drove into the opposite lane and struck a 77-year-old San Luis Obispo man identified as Terry Tilton head on at 68 miles per hour. Unfortunately, the impact of collision was severe and killed Tilton instantly. Stiles’s 18-month old daughter and her two dogs were also in her vehicle at the time of both collisions.

Stiles suffered from moderate injuries and was taken to a nearby hospital for medical treatment along with her young daughter who thankfully only sustained minor injuries.

During trial, court testimonies suggested that prior to the deadly crash, Stiles cut her daughter’s scheduled visitation with the father short. The father told investigators that Stiles’ strangely aggressive behavior lead him to believe that she was under the influence of drugs.

A CHP officer Trevor Ashton testified that Stiles was generally incoherent as she was being transported into the ambulance. At the hospital, Stiles admitted to intentionally crashing her vehicle into the two cars she hit but gave no explanation as to why.

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Is it Possible to be Extradited for a DUI?

Each state handles charges for driving under the influence. However, leaving a state after being charged with a DUI does not necessarily mean you will escape prosecution. This is because sometimes states can extradite you for DUI charges. Extradition is the process by which a person is arrested in one state to face charges in another. This can become a costly process and for this reason, most state court systems only pursue extradition proceedings in cases involving felony charges. It is important to note however, that there are some cases where individuals can be extradited on misdemeanor charges.

DUI Charges and Extradition in California

As aforementioned, felony charges are generally when states pursue extradition. While most DUI charges are commonly treated as misdemeanors, some DUI offenses in California are prosecuted as felonies. The court can use felony DUI charges to prosecute you if you committed at least four DUIs within a span of 10 years, the DUI accident you caused resulted in serious bodily harm, and/or if the DUI accident resulted in a death. Likewise, if you have received a felony DUI charge in the past, your new DUI will also be charged in California as a felony. Either of these alternatives could easily cause you to be extradited by the state to face charges.

You can still face serious consequences even if you are not extradited to face prosecution for a DUI in California. Even if you are charged with a misdemeanor DUI, your life will still be affected. In particular, California initiates an automatic license suspension when you are arrested for DUI that goes into effect within 30 days of your arrest. This still occurs even if your DUI case is dismissed by a judge. The only way to possibly stop this is by requesting a hearing within 10 days of your arrest. In the event that you fail to respond to the notice of the hearing, the California DMV will suspend your license for a minimum of four months and does not only apply in California, but across state lines.

If you fail to appear in court to address a DUI charge, a bench warrant for your arrest can be issued by the court. This has no statute of limitations so any return trip to California will come with the knowledge that every police officer will be able to identify you as a wanted individual and will likely arrest you immediately.

If you are aware of an outstanding DUI in California, it would be wise to seek legal counsel as opposed to waiting it out. Contacting a DUI attorney will place you in a much better position in regards to handling your pending charge. An experienced attorney can possibly negotiate for an alternative penalty that allows you to stay in your home state instead of returning to California to serve a jail sentence.

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Does PC 1001.95 Apply to Misdemeanor DUIs?

Prosecutors say no but the plain language of the new misdemeanor judicial diversion statute PC 1001.95 clearly states that it applies to all misdemeanors except those specifically excluded. DUI offenses are not specifically excluded in the language of the statute.

The Legislative intent of a statute as determined by the plain language of the statute is discussed in detail in Burden v. Snowden, (1992) 2 Cal. 4th 556:

The rules governing statutory construction are well settled. We begin with the fundamental premise that the objective of statutory interpretation is to ascertain and effectuate legislative intent. (Kimmel v. Goland (1990) 51 Cal.3d 202, 208 [271 Cal.Rptr. 191, 793 P.2d 524]; California Teachers Assn. v. San Diego Community College Dist., supra, 28 Cal.3d at p. 698.) “In determining intent, we look first to the language of the statute, giving effect to its ‘plain meaning.’ ” (Emphasis added.) (Kimmel, supra, 51 Cal.3d at pp. 208-209, citing Tiernan v. Trustees of Cal. State University & Colleges (1982) 33 Cal.3d 211, 218-219 [188 Cal.Rptr. 115, 655 P.2d 317]; California Teachers Assn., supra, 28 Cal.3d at p. 698.) Although we may properly rely on extrinsic aids, we should first turn to the words of the statute to determine the intent of the Legislature. (California Teachers Assn., supra, 28 Cal.3d at p. 698.)  See also People v. Lawrence (2000) 24 Cal.4th 219, 230, 99 Cal.Rptr. 2d 570, 6 P.3d, 228; People v. Lopez (2003) 31 Cal 4th 1051, 1056, 6 Cal.Rptr. 3d 432, 79 P.3d 548.  

The Court in Khajavj v. Feather River Anesthesia Medical Group, (2000) 84 Cal. App. 4th 32 , 34 further explained that:

the most powerful safeguard for the courts’ adherence to their constitutional role of construing, rather than writing, statutes is to rely on the statute’s plain language.  

Furthermore, although the direct issue in question in Tellez v. Superior Court of Riverside was mental health diversion, the court discussed PC 1001.95 Misdemeanor Diversion in anticipation of the question as to DUI eligibility for the newly enacted PC 1001.95.  That court stated in pertinent part:

“…Misdemeanor diversion already exists.  In 1982, the Legislature enacted two sets of statutes providing for misdemeanor diversion programs.  (Pen. Code, §§ 1001-1001.9, 1001.50-1001.55; Davis v. Municipal Court(1988) 46 Cal.3d 64, 75.)  When the Legislature did so, it expressly excluded DUI offenses from eligibility.  (Pen. Code, §§1001.2, subd. (a), 1001.51, subds. (b), (c)(6).)  In view of that history, the Legislature’s failure to expressly exclude DUI offenses this time around is a good indicator that it intended DUI offenses to be eligible for the new misdemeanor program.(Emphasis Added).  (Tellez v. Superior Court of Riverside, Filed Oct. 23, 2020, from the Fourth Appellate District, Division Two, Case No. E074244, Superior Ct. No. INF1800977).

 Despite opposition from California prosecutors, PC 1001.95 misdemeanor judicial diversion applies to misdemeanor DUI offenses.  

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Five-Year-Old Dies Tragically in DUI Accident Caused by her Father

On Sunday afternoon, five-year-old Alexa Avalos lost her life and another young boy suffered serious injuries in a single-car crash in Colton, California. Their father, Ernesto Avalos, 28, was suspected of driving while intoxicated when he crashed into a light pole on South Cooley Drive.

The incident occurred on April 11th at approximately 2:25 p.m. Witnesses told investigators that the vehicle driven by the defendant was traveling southbound in a Toyota 4Runner when he rolled over a raised center median and blew past a stop sign at a dangerously accelerated speed before slamming head-on into a pole. While preliminary investigations suggest Avalos may have been under the influence of alcohol at the time of the collision, authorities have not ruled out the possibility that other substances might have been used and contributed to the tragic crash.

When emergency personnel arrived at the scene of the crime, they found Avalos and two children entrapped in the vehicle and carefully extracted them. The impact of the crash was severe and all three occupants were transported to a nearby hospital for medical attention. Sadly, Alexa’s injuries were fatal, and she passed away shortly upon arrival. Her father was released from the hospital the following day and was arrested immediately on suspicion of drunk driving. Unfortunately, this is not Avalos’ first DUI offense. In February of 2021, he was charged with a misdemeanor of DUI which, according to the court, is still an open case.

On Tuesday, prosecutors filed additional charges associated with the crash that killed his little girl in a new case. In addition to murder, he now faces child endangerment and a felony DUI. The defendant is currently being held at West Valley Detention Center on no bail.

Driving while under the influence is not only extremely dangerous, but has consequences that can completely disrupt the trajectory of your life. If you find yourself in a compromising position such as this, please make the wise decision to opt for a mode of transportation that does not require to you get behind the wheel—a decision like this can not only salvage your life, but the lives of others as well.

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Alleged DUI Suspect Charged for Killing Two Victims in DUI Accident

A Novita woman identified as Keilah Marie Coyle was arrested on allegations of intoxicated driving after a crash that killed two people in Lake County, California. According to Lake County District Attorney Susan Krones, Coyle’s scheduled arraignment took place this past Tuesday afternoon on charges of vehicular manslaughter and causing great bodily injury by driving under the influence. The suspect remains in custody in lieu of $2 million bail.

The crash occurred at approximately 11 p.m. on Saturday, March 13th, 2021 on Highway 29 near Middletown. According to the California Highway Patrol report, Coyle was traveling southbound in a Ford F-250 pickup truck when she lost control and drifted over the solid double yellow lines. Consequently, the truck collided with a GMC van that was traveling northbound.

Sadly, the impact of the crash was severe, and the occupants of the van were pronounced dead at the scene of the crime. The fatal crash resulted in the highway being closed for about five hours. Investigative reports identified the two victims as Miguel Maciel Dominguez, 47, and Cassandra Elaine Rolicheck, 53, both residents of Clearlake.

The police officers at the scene noted that she showed signs of alcohol intoxication. As a result, they arrested Coyle on suspicion of driving under the influence and causing injury and vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, among other charges.

Considering the Facts of the DUI Case

Earlier that Saturday prior to the incident, Coyle was also identified as the suspect in a hit-and-run collision in Sonoma County. She allegedly made an unsafe lane change on Highway 101 South and sideswiped another vehicle. Thankfully, the victims were uninjured and were able to record Coyle’s license plate number to file a report.

Coyle faces incarceration but it is possible for the families of the victims to also file a wrongful death claim, separate from her criminal case. A case like this may turn out to be difficult to navigate. The DUI defense team will need to proceed with the tact and care necessary to help bring about the best results possible.

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