A 19 year-old drunk driver received 90 days of community service in addition to three years of probation despite injuring a cyclist so badly that his teeth were left embedded in her car.
Celine Mahdavi struck cyclist Louis Deliz in December of last year in the downtown area of Los Angeles. Last week a judge passed down the sentence which permitted Mahdavi to retain her driver’s license, even though she fled the scene of the accident. Police caught her shortly afterward and registered a blood-alcohol level between .05 and .08.
The apparently light sentence was met with protest from bicycle advocacy groups, one of which – Bikeside LA – swore to seek legislation in Sacramento to protect cyclists’ rights. One particularly objectionable remark from the judge, Eldon S. Fox, they say, involved his decision to allow Mahdavi to keep her license. Fox ordered that Mahdavi “shouldn’t drive unless she has a valid driver’s license”.
Deliz spent 49 days in hospital following the assault, including 8 days in a coma and 11 days in intensive care. He suffered multiple injuries, including two broken legs, a broken hip, a broken jaw, a punctured lung and several broken fingers. Judge Fox ordered Mahdavi to pay restitution, but stopped well short of recommending a custodial sentence.
The legislation being sought by Bikeside LA would make mandatory the revocation of a driver’s license for anyone convicted of a hit-and-run assault. 1,300 Los Angeles area cyclists descended peacefully upon the Beverly Hills courthouse to promote the initiative, called Life Before License.