Jury Acquits Mother Charged with DUI after Fleeing Domestic Abuse
SAN FRANCISCO — Yesterday, a jury found Liz Anaya, 31, not guilty of DUI charges that arose when she was fleeing domestic abuse from her partner.
Her attorney, Deputy Public Defender Nitin Sapra, successfully argued that she had not planned on driving that night, but only did so out of necessity to get away from a dangerous situation.
“The circumstances surrounding DUIs are often much more complex than meets the eye. Ms. Anaya was terrified for her life, and was just trying to get away from a violent situation. I am glad that the jury saw this for what it was — a young mother doing whatever she needed to do to flee an abuser,” said Sapra.
Ms. Anaya had been in an abusive relationship for 4 years. During the trial she shared that her partner had taken control over her life, cutting her off from family, friends and her profession as a hairstylist. The night of February 25, 2019, when he came home, he realized that she had had a drink with their housemate, and he became outraged. He then began to batter her, and she feared that he would beat her as he had done before. She was able to flee her home and drive around the corner, where she turned off the car, put on her hazard lights, and called her son who was on his way home. Meanwhile, her partner called the police and accused her of drunk driving.
Body worn cameras showed that police arrived and talked to her partner for several minutes outside the home before they went looking for Ms. Anaya. They found her in the car with the engine off, but instead of asking her about the domestic disturbance or why she had fled her home, they proceeded with a DUI investigation.
Prosecutors refused to dismiss the case prior to trial.
Ultimately, the jury agreed that, despite having alcohol in her system, she had only driven out of necessity to escape a situation that was more dangerous than her driving a short distance, where she did not injure any person nor destroy any property.