The Los Angeles DUI Law Blog

Teen Arrested for Drugged Driving in Fatal Ortega Highway Crash

It is safe to say that 18-year-old Francisco Jesus Ochoa should not have been driving Friday morning. The unlicensed, uninsured teen was reportedly under the influence of drugs during a fatal Ortega Highway crash, reports The Orange County Register.

The Lake Elsinore teen was arrested and charged with one felony count of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated, one felony count of possession of a controlled substance, one misdemeanor count of driving a motor vehicle without a valid license, and an infraction for failing to maintain liability insurance.

The charges stem from a solo-vehicle fatal crash on Ortega Highway Friday morning. Ochoa was reportedly driving a truck with passenger Margarita Gutierrez when he lost control and struck an oak tree, according to The Register. Gutierrez was pronounced dead at the scene, while Ochoa suffered a broken leg.

Prosecutors allege Ochoa was in possession of six Vicodin pills at the time of the crash and was swerving and weaving for several miles before he hit the tree. He also allegedly did not have a prescription for the pills.

Although driving under the influence is typically associated with alcohol intoxication, drivers can also be charged with the offense while under the influence of other drugs. However, it is harder to test for drug impairment, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has admitted that current knowledge about drugs is "insufficient to allow the identification of dosage limits that are related to elevated crash risk."

If convicted on all charges, Francisco Jesus Ochoa faces 10 years and eight months in prison for causing the fatal Ortega Highway crash, according to The Register.

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