D.C. DUI lawyers know that while this is an incredibly tragic story, there are multiple ways it could have been prevented.
Obviously, had the driver who struck her not been legally intoxicated with a breathalyzer measurement of 0.13, we might be reading a different story. But also, we can not overlook the responsibility of the stranded motorist in this case.
According to news reports, the woman’s vehicle was disabled in the right lane of the highway, where the speed limit was 65 miles per hour. She was reportedly standing behind her vehicle. While it’s unclear from the reports, it’s entirely conceivable that she would have been blocking the rear lights that would have allowed the defendant to clearly see both her and the stalled vehicle.
Headlines detailing crashes that occurred when a vehicle was stalled in traffic are seemingly endless. Again, these cases are tragic, but they are sometimes only preventable by the careful actions of the motorists in the stranded vehicles. This point can not be discounted in the other motorist’s defense.
In this case, we also don’t know whether the driver of the disabled vehicle was also intoxicated. The 20-year-old was reportedly behind her vehicle when the 30-year-old defendant, who was reportedly traveling home from a nightclub with his girlfriend, approached driving an estimated 82 miles per hour. He was also reportedly talking and changing the radio station.
The passenger reported she saw the disabled vehicle before the driver, but she barely had time to shout before he could react. It wasn’t soon enough.
The stranded motorist was struck, her body launched through the windshield of her vehicle. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
The driver told police he had consumed one or two alcoholic drinks, and officers discovered a partially-consumed beer bottle on the driver’s side floor board, along with two empty beer cans that were tossed behind the driver’s seat.
The driver submitted to field sobriety tests, which he failed. He was subsequently charged with two counts of negligent manslaughter, negligent manslaughter while impaired, DUI, speeding and reckless operation.
He entered a guilty plea, and faces $1,000 in fines and up to 1 year in jail at his upcoming sentencing.
What can be done to prevent future instances such as this?
If you’re vehicle becomes disabled, whether you’re drinking or not, take the following actions:
1. If your vehicle breaks down in the middle of traffic and you can’t safely get it off the road, call 911 and remain inside your vehicle until emergency workers arrive to help you remove it.
2. If you are able to move your vehicle to the off-ramp or onto the shoulder, make sure you are as far to the right as possible. Remain in your vehicle until help arrives.
3. Put your emergency flashing lights on so other motorists will be sure to see you.
4. If you must step out of the vehicle, do not turn your back to traffic. Keep yourself aware an alert of your surroundings.
If you are facing DUI charges in D.C., contact the Law Office of Daniel A. Gross, PLLC for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights or fill out our online contact form. Visa, Mastercard and Discover cards accepted. Call 202-596-5716.