Mother gets 14-year sentence for DUI crash that hurt her 3 children

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SAN DIEGO -- A woman driving on a suspended license who had more than three times the legal blood-alcohol limit when she crashed her SUV head-on into another vehicle while driving her three young daughters through Rancho Bernardo was sentenced Thursday to 14 years in state prison.

Mayra Alejandra Gonzalez, 30, -- while on probation for a prior DUI -- had a .29% blood-alcohol content when she drove on the wrong side of Camino del Norte Nov. 12, 2018.

Her SUV crashed head-on into an oncoming 2011 Jeep Liberty, causing severe injuries -- including a skull fracture and a brain bleed -- to her 9-month-old daughter, who was riding unrestrained. The defendant's 2-year-old daughter suffered facial injuries and her 8-year-old daughter broke a bone.

The 57-year-old driver of the other car suffered broken bones and underwent five surgeries to treat his injuries.

Deputy District Attorney Ramona McCarthy told the court at Thursday's sentencing that Gonzalez was drinking throughout the day on Nov. 12 and driving with her kids in her vehicle on a trip that stretched from North San Diego County to East County and back.

She crashed into a signpost and a parked car, and backed into a wall prior to the crash that led to her conviction, the prosecutor said.

"She put alcohol and what she wanted to do above the safety of her children and the safety of the community," McCarthy told the court.

Considering the condition of her then-9-month-old, who still uses a feeding tube to this day as a result of the crash, McCarthy said, "It's a miracle (Gonzalez) is not here on a murder charge."

Gonzalez was arrested the day after the collision at Palomar Medical Center.

At the time of the crash, she was on probation and driving on a suspended license due to a 2017 North County DUI, in which she crashed while pregnant and with at least one of her children riding in the vehicle. She had .23% blood-alcohol content in that case.

Gonzalez, who pleaded guilty in August to felony child abuse and drunk driving charges, addressed the court, asking for leniency and the chance to see her family sooner.

"My children are my world, my reason for living," said Gonzalez, adding she was "very, very remorseful" for the crash.

She said she's since taken numerous classes on parenting and alcohol abuse in an attempt to better herself and would never drink and drive again.

San Diego County Superior Court Judge Laura W. Halgren said she believed Gonzalez was remorseful for what happened, but said deterring others from making the same mistakes and taking Gonzalez's history of drinking and driving into account factored into imposing a higher sentence.

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