A drunken driver with three prior driving under the influence convictions and a blood alcohol level of .22 percent an hour and a half after a Jan. 16, 2007, early morning crash was sentenced today to 15 years to life in prison for killing her passenger.
A jury on March 5 had found Suzanne Amelia Carlson, 27, of Mission Viejo, guilty of murder and gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated with prior convictions. She was convicted of DUI once in 2001 and twice in 2006.
As part of those previous DUI convictions, Carlson had attended alcohol awareness courses that instructed her about the dangers of drinking and driving.
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Yet, on the night of Jan. 15, 2007, she spent more than two hours draining drinks at a Rancho Santa Margarita restaurant and then got behind the wheel of a 1997 Infiniti sedan belonging to 55-year-old Scott Turner, who sat in the front passenger seat.
At around 12:30 a.m. the next morning, while driving west on the 91 freeway, Carlson veered across two lanes and crashed into the back of a Fed-Ex 18-wheel truck. The right side of the Infiniti was crushed on impact, and Carlson lost control and rammed into a freeway wall.
She managed to free herself by climbing out of the sun roof, but Turner was trapped inside his car and had to be freed by firefighters who pried open the vehicle.
Despite the life-saving efforts, Turner's internal injuries were too serious and he died a short time later.