D.C. DUI defense attorneys know that in the wake of such tragedies, emotions are raw.
What we know about this situation is that the defendant, a Warranton woman, was charged with driving under the influence, aggravated involuntary manslaughter and maiming by DUI.
Investigators say the defendant had been drinking before she got behind the wheel of her 1999 Lexus RX300, a sport utility vehicle. She was driving north on Dumfries Road when it is believed she ran a red light and hit a 2008 Ford Focus. That vehicle reportedly had a green light and was attempting to make a turn onto Dumfries.
The Ford then spun and crashed into a Volkswagon Jetta, driven by a 33-year-old female.
Inside that Focus was a 58-year-old male driver, a 57-year-old female passenger and their dog. The woman died at the hospital. The animal died en route to the hospital. The man was flown to the hospital with life-threatening injuries and remains in critical condition.
None of the others involved – including the defendant, her passenger or the driver of the Volkswagon, were seriously hurt.
Speed is not suspected to be a factor.
The charge of involuntary manslaughter is essentially defined by D.C. law as a death that was caused by some act of criminal negligence. What that means is that while the defendant may not have meant to hurt or kill the victim, the failure to exercise the appropriate degree of care ultimately makes him or her liable from a criminal standpoint.
This is the least serious of all murder charges, but it still carries a potential maximum sentence of five years.
Then you factor in the DUI and the maiming by DUI charge. The DUI charge, assuming this woman has no prior convictions, faces up to one years in jail, fines of several thousand dollars and license suspension.
The maiming by DUI addresses the critical injuries sustained by the male passenger of the Ford Focus. What this statute says is that you can be found guilty if you seriously hurt someone while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Under VA Code 18.2-51.4, your behavior has to have been so wanton, gross and culpable that either a judge or jury will deem that you had total disregard for the value of human life. It’s a felony, and it’s punishable by up to five years in prison.
So that’s at least 11 years potentially for this woman.
We say this not to scare anyone. In fact, if you’re in this kind of a situation, chances are you are frightened enough.
The bottom line is that an attorney with experience in DUI cases can help you. It’s not about “winning.” We know there are no winners in these cases. It’s about ensuring that your rights are protected and fighting for the best possible outcome, given the unique facts of the case.
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.