Penney Morey, 45, of Burke, was killed Tuesday night when her car was struck head-on while she was driving to a repair shop, police said yesterday. Her husband Ronald was in a van behind her when the crash occurred, they said.

Fairfax County police believe that the motorist who crossed the center line of South Alban Road in Springfield and struck Morey's car was intoxicated.

They have charged Davey Melesio, 32, of 8544 Gwynedd Way in Springfield, with involuntary manslaughter and driving while intoxicated.

According to police, Ronald Morey, 49, a longtime employee of the Justice Department, was following his wife to the repair shop about 9:45 p.m.

The crash caused her sedan to spin around and strike his van, they said.

Penney Morey, who was not wearing a seat belt, struck her head on the steering wheel and the windshield, police said.

"It was a survivable wreck, in all probability," said Officer Bill Coulter, a police spokesman.

Coulter said Morey's car was destroyed; her husband's van had minimal damage.

Melesio, a truck driver, received minor cuts when his station wagon left the road, police said.

Melesio was treated at Fairfax Hospital and taken to the county jail.

He was released yesterday on $16,000 bond.

A spokesman for the Morey family could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Traffic deaths in Fairfax decreased 47 percent in 1987 from a record high the previous year -- from 85 to 45, police said. They said there also were fewer alcohol-related crashes.

Police said they hoped the improvement was due in part to increased public education and awareness about the importance of wearing seat belts.

A mandatory state seat belt law took effect on Jan. 1.