DUI driver sentenced to 6 years

May 1, 2014

duA 55-year-old Paso Robles woman was sentenced to six years in prison after she received her fourth DUI for driving under the influence of prescription drugs. [Tribune]

In 1999, Denise Gafner Mendoza, received her first DUI. Two years later, she hit and killed a College Towing employee as he attempted to hitch a stalled car on the Cuesta Grade. She was sentenced to seven years in prison for gross vehicular manslaughter.

Then in 2007, a police officer found Mendoza, wearing a nightgown, passed out at the wheel of a car still in drive. Her head was resting on the steering wheel. She was sentenced to a year in jail.

In September, an officer noticed Mendoza swerving and pulled her over. She again said she had taken prescription drugs.

Last September, she was driving on Highway 101 in Atascadero when a CHP officer pulled her over for swerving. The officer again arrested her for DUI.

In each case, she told law enforcement that she had taken prescription drugs.

In addition to the six year prison sentence, Mendoza received a 10 year driver’s license revocation.


20 Comments

  1. Latte2Party says:

    So, as a society, are we ready for simple tech called “ignition interlock.” You gotta pass the breathalyzer before you can start the vehicle.
    It would be a big loss of revenue for the DUI “industry,” however.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 8

    • SLO_Johnny says:

      This woman takes prescription opiate pain medication so she would pass an ignition lock with flying colors.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  2. Citizen says:

    This woman is a great example of someone who should never be allowed to drive again. She is on prescription meds for a medical condition and will continue her meds while she is incarcerated. She will never go off the meds, so she should never have a driver’s license again. She will just keep trying until she kills someone else.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 2

    • OnTheOtherHand says:

      All true but what is to keep her from driving without a license once she is out again. She has had enough chances and needs to be put away until she is physically incapable of operating a car. She obviously is either in deep denial about her condition or such a sociopath that she doesn’t give a damn about anyone else’ safety. Either way, she can’t be trusted in a society where obtaining a vehicle to operate is relatively easy.

      What we need is increasingly severe penalties for repeated offenses of this nature. She should never have been released from prison after the third offense given that the second one resulted in someone’s death. That would be a reasonable and just application of a “Three Strikes” law.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

      • Citizen says:

        It sounds as if she over medicates on her “opiate medication”, probably something like oxcycontin, and then goes out and gets in her car to drive. So, yes there is nothing to stop her from driving without a license.

        So, when there is no way to keep her off the meds or keep her from driving impaired, one really starts thinking about vigilante justice.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  3. Cindy says:

    I’m curious how this reconciles with the Kalie Wiesenberg case? This Mendoza woman had a previous DUI and killed someone within two years. She received a 7 year sentence for man slaughter.

    Kalie W had no prior DUI’s but received 15 years to life for the DUI related death she caused after speeding around a sharp curve? Whether or not she was even DUI was highly questionable as the CHP said she passed her roadside test. Why the uneven sentencing?

    Oh that’s right, CHP Officer Oswald was more valued as a human than the the College Towing employee who was also killed on the job.

    Just saying……….

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 18 Thumb down 20

    • Mr. Holly says:

      No you have it wrong. The court was correct with the Kalie Wiesenberg case but failed us miserably with Ms. Mendoza who should have been penalized more than she was.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 2

      • Cindy says:

        Granted, I’ve never read a case that is as irritating as this Mendoza woman. She has a screw loose somewhere. But I really think Kalie Wiensenberg was over charged because of who she killed and that’s just not right. On a first DUI it’s almost always charged as a man slaughter with a 7 year sentence. To lock up a 22 year old who used extremely poor judgement for 15 years and the probability that she will never get out is unconscionable. She deserved another chance just like everyone else gets. People like this Mendoza woman are rare in my opinion.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

    • Pelican1 says:

      Ahhh…but you conveniently forgot to include the fact that the jurors heard expert testimony that she was speeding AND under the influence of meth at the time. In addition, she was driving with a suspended license which by the way had been suspended 4 times prior to the last one.In 2008 she had been convicted of hit and run, Prior to that she had had numerous moving violations including several accidents, both injury and non-injury.
      No victim of a tragic accident is any more valuable than another…the prosecution and the jury just got it right in trying her, and convicting her of Second Degree Murder.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 1

  4. Mr. Holly says:

    Suspending her driver’s license? Why in the world does she even have one after the record that she has? The system may be at fault also if in fact she did have a drivers license.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  5. ApathyWillKillYou says:

    This menace to society just doesn’t get it as evidenced by her statement according to the Trib.

    “I can’t believe what I’m getting,” she said. “Everything that has happened to me is because of my meds and kidney problems. … They think I’m a horrible person, but I’m not. I don’t want to hurt anyone.”

    Get a clue lady… YOU KILLED SOMEBODY!

    It also shows the true colors of the DUI money making mill the State of California enjoys by only suspending her license for 10 years and another jail sentence that will not be served to full term because most of the money for prisons is in salaries.

    She should get life (she took a life) and NEVER get a drivers license EVER!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 2

  6. Ted Slanders says:

    .
    If our lawmakers actually followed our Hebrew God’s true words, and were real Christians, the deplorable Denise Gafner Mendoza wouldn’t be here for another prison sentence to begin with. The theory of rehabilitation is over!

    “Whoever takes a human life shall surely be put to death.” (Leviticus 24:17)

    “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.” (Genesis 9:6)

    “Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.” (Exodus 21:24-25)

    Does our government know more than the inspired word of our God? NO, THEY DO NOT!
    But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29) Therefore if we’re going to follow God, then the passages above and their outcomes must be administered post haste. If not, then we’re hypocrites to the word of God and take the position that we know more than Him. Blasphemy!

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 24 Thumb down 15

    • achillesheal says:

      I know I will regret asking, but how does Levitcus 24:17 “whoever takes a human life shall surely be put to death”, reconcile with the 6th Commandment “thou shalt not kill”?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 4

      • Ted Slanders says:

        achillesheal,

        Keep this on the “down-low,”, okay? God’s word in the bible got messed up in the many translations over the years. The ungodly Christian apologists typically attempt to explain away such contradictions like the one you’ve brought forth by claiming that the fault lies in the translation, and that there were no contradictions in the original texts. But, we’ll never know this to be fact since none of the original bible texts exist!

        All we have left is what is in hand, you pick the bible that you want to read from, where there are 233 different bibles to date that contradict each other, and of course, they’re all correct.

        This begs the question given in how many biblical contradictions there are; but even if these Christian apologetics could explain them away with a straight face, it would follow that every part of the Bible should be as suspect as the contradictory sections. Therefore, we’re back to square one.

        Please, being a Christian is hard enough going into the 21st Century, so don’t make it any more difficult for me with questions like you just posed. Thank you.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 8

      • mesaman1651 says:

        Thou shalt not kill … take some time out of your life to study the word of God, and you will find the answers you seek.
        This passage literally means, you shall do no murder.
        Our laws are originally based upon the bible, God’s laws.
        This is why we have 1st degree, 2nd degree and 3rd degree murder.
        Someone like her, who has a habit of getting behind the wheel of a car while STONED, is bordering on 3rd degree murder. She should be locked away for her life because she is a proven danger to the rest of mankind. But since we have become a society that wants to feel “sorry” for these poor people, and follow the religion of tolerance, many many innocent lives have to pay the price becauseof these others who are dangerous.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 19

        • Ted Slanders says:

          mesaman1651,

          The problem is, I have studied the bible, and probably have forgotten more than you’ll ever learn about it. That being said, its embarrassing for Christians to have to tell another that when the bible says “thou shalt not kill” as the bible “literally” says, is wrong, but its suppose to say “thou shalt not murder.” It deduces to what I stated, the contradiction is in yet another mistranslation, which renders a slippery slope for the rest of the bible.

          We know there are two different Hebrew words (ratsakh, mut) and two Greek words (phoneuo, apokteino) for “murder” and “killing.” One means “to put to death,” and the other means “to murder.” The latter one is the one prohibited by the Ten Commandments, not the former. In fact, ratsakh has a broader definition than the English word “murder.” Ratsakh also covers deaths that are due to carelessness or neglect but is never used when describing killing during wartime.

          However, a very large issue can arise depending on “which godly inspired translation” one studies. The King James Version renders the verse as “Thou shalt not kill,” therefore opening the door to misinterpreting the verse altogether using your apologetics. If the intended meaning of “Thou shalt not kill” was just that—no killing—it would render all of the God-endorsed bloodletting, killing of fetus’, the innocent young, etc., done by the nation of Israel a violation of God’s own commandment (Deuteronomy 20). But God does not break His own commandments, so, clearly, the verse does not call for a complete moratorium on the taking of another human life.

          If our laws are originally based upon the bible, then why aren’t we killing children that curse their parents? Jesus substantiated this axiom in Matthew 15:3-4, whereas the original command was in Exodus 21:17, and a followup in Mark 7:10?

          The only area of agreement with you is that this woman should be locked up for life, period.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 1

  7. dogeatdog says:

    Unfortunately, I think she will be driving under the influence again when she gets out if she does not get help, and prison is not the help she needs. What does it take for the state to say she is an habitual offender and pull her license for life?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 4

  8. justchuck says:

    She should be given life imprisonment. Instead she will be released in a few years and giventhe opportunity to kill someone else. Judges and attorneys, how much time would you give her if she killed a family member?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 29 Thumb down 1

  9. Pelican1 says:

    A lifetime driving prohibition in addition to the prison time would have been more appropriate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 31 Thumb down 2

    • achillesheal says:

      Absolutely – especially considering that she will not have access to a vehicle when she is incarcerated for the 3 years or so that she will be in jail before parole.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

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