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Driver in fatal crash has license suspended

The 21-year-old woman has had her license suspended 11 times in three years.

Shanna Jane West can no longer drive legally.

The 21-year-old Brandon woman, admittedly high on drugs Nov. 21 when she slammed head-on into a car in Land O'Lakes and killed a 52-year-old Dade City woman, was forced on Dec. 15 to surrender her license to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, a spokeswoman said.

"Obviously, she's going to keep driving as long as she has a license so we sent someone out to get it," spokeswoman Debra Baxley said Wednesday. "Our agency has taken the only action we can at this point."

The suspension comes a result of two drug-related driving incidents on the same day: the fatal crash that killed Barbara Mercer and a driving under the influence arrest earlier that morning on Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa, Baxley said.

It's West's 11th license suspension since November 1997, according to driving records. Her life has been riddled with drug and driving problems. Often they were related, she told the St. Petersburg Times in an interview the day after the fatal accident.

West, the Mercer family and Florida Highway Patrol troopers in charge of the crash investigation were all unavailable for comment on Wednesday.

The decision to take West's license hinges on a state law that allows the suspension of a license if a driver has committed an offense for which the license is automatically suspended upon conviction, Baxley said.

The action did not come immediately. The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles didn't receive reports from Tampa police and FHP regarding the DUI and fatal crash until Dec. 12, three weeks after the accident, Baxley said.

Charges against West stemming from the fatal crash on U.S. 41 in Land O'Lakes are pending results of drug tests from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

West previously told the Times that she was high on GHB, commonly known as a date rape drug that causes euphoria as well as sedation, during both incidents.

Her arraignment on the DUI charge is scheduled for Feb. 1, according to the Hillsborough County Court.

Tampa police did not have drug tests results from her DUI arrest when they filed the report with the DMV, Baxley said.