Paso Robles woman faces two DUIs after manslaughter conviction
December 16, 2013
A Paso Robles woman who served a prison sentence for hitting and killing a tow truck driver while driving high on prescription drugs has had two DUI arrests since her release from lockup. [Tribune]
Denise Gafner Mendoza, 55, is currently in San Luis Obispo County jail on a felony DUI charge from September.
On September 10, 2001, Mendoza crashed into and killed Tanner Rothfleisch, a 20-year-old College Towing employee, who was preparing to hitch a stalled vehicle on the Cuesta grade. Mendoza was on probation for a 1999 DUI at the time.
Mendoza pleaded no contest to gross vehicular manslaughter and received a seven-year prison sentence, although she did not serve the majority of it.
Since her release, officers arrested her for a DUI in 2007 and again in September.
In the 2007 incident, a police officer found Mendoza unconscious in her car with her head on the steering wheel. The car was facing the wrong direction at 13th Street and Riverside Avenue in Paso Robles.
A medic that arrived could only understand one word that she muttered, which was “dilaudid,” a painkiller.
On September 27, 2013, a highway patrol officer pulled her over for swerving on U.S. Highway 101 near the San Anselmo exit in Atascadero.
Mendoza told officers that she was on dilaudid, as well as morphine and other prescription drugs.
Mendoza has pleaded not guilty to the most recent DUI charge and will reappear in court on Jan. 6.