“2 Drunk 2 Care” Tweeter Charged with Multiple Crimes for November Wrong-Way Crash

Finebloom, Haenel & Higgins

People around the country were outraged when it was revealed that a 20-year-old who allegedly caused a wrong-way accident in November had been glorifying her illegal lifestyle and had even tweeted “2 Drunk 2 Care” shortly before the Broward County crash that took two lives.  Kayla Mendoza described herself on social media as being a “pot princess” and had bragged about things ranging from her car permanently smelling like pot to heavy partying and drinking.  The “2 Drunk 2 Care” tweet was apparently sent while she was illegally drinking at a restaurant a few hours before the crash where two people were killed and Mendoza was seriously injured.  In January, various news outlets began to report that Mendoza had a BAC of .15, twice the normal legal limit of .08 and far above the legal limit for a 20-year-old.  On April 7, 2014, Mendoza was charged with various crimes related to the accident, including two counts each of DUI manslaughter while impaired, DUI manslaughter with unlawful blood alcohol level, vehicular manslaughter and driving without a license and causing death.

The procedure that was followed in this case may have taken a long time, nearly six months between the time of the accident and the time Mendoza was charged, but it showed that the prosecutors in this case were most likely using great care, probably so that Mendoza would have a greater chance of serving time in prison for her alleged role in these deaths.  Mendoza’s actions, not just on that evening, but in general, were so outrageous and showed such little regard for others that it was especially important to make sure that the charges against her would stick.  It appeared that the wait to charge Mendoza in this case had absolutely nothing to do with trying to be easy on her.  In fact, it is the opposite; the prosecution was making sure that they had the strongest case possible against her.

One of the things that are noticeable in Mendoza’s case is that she was charged with a number of crimes that appear to be very similar, four different sets of charges for causing the deaths of the two victims.  There is a very important reason this was done, and it is to make sure that Mendoza has less of a chance of escaping jail time.  Each of these crimes comes with a different set of criteria attached to them.  In a vehicular homicide charge, the prosecution would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mendoza caused the death of another by operating her vehicle in a reckless manner.  This would differ from a DUI manslaughter charge where the prosecution would have to prove that Mendoza was either impaired or had an illegal amount of blood in her system, was driving a vehicle and as a result of driving this vehicle caused the death of another.  That, in turn, is different from a charge of driving without a license and causing death, where an entirely different set of criteria would have to be met.

The purpose here isn’t to convict Mendoza of all of these crimes, that isn’t the case at all.  The reason she is being charged with all of them is so that if the jury finds the prosecution finds that they did not meet their burden of proof on one charge, the could still be a chance they met their burden on another.  For example, if the results of Mendoza’s BAC tests were thrown out for some reason, the DUI manslaughter charges could be in trouble.  However, there could still be enough to show that she was driving recklessly when she killed the victims or that she was driving without a license when she killed the victims and for one of those charges, she could still be prosecuted.