After a 27-year-old pedestrian was struck and killed in New York by a driver who had admitted to drinking prior to the crash, it seemed in inevitable that the driver would be charged with DUI manslaughter.
But he wasn’t, despite a fair amount of criticism from numerous media outlets.
Later, in a brief statement, the district attorney’s office revealed that it was because n accident reconstruction expert determined that alcohol wasn’t a contributing factor in the crash that led to the woman’s death. The details of the reconstructionist’s report have not yet been publicly released.
This case is an example of what our D.C. DUI defense lawyers often point to as a key element in situations where there is damage, injury or death: Just because a person was drinking prior to driving or even drunk behind the wheel does not mean they caused the crash.
There is an automatic tendency to assume that if a driver in a crash was intoxicated, they are responsible. This is not always true.
The reality is that people are constantly making poor decisions behind the wheel – or while walking, biking, etc. They may be stone-cold sober and still make a bad choice.
If that person collides with someone who happens to be drunk, it doesn’t automatically make the drunk person at-fault.
In this case, it’s the difference between a 15-year sentence on a felony charge and a possible 1-year sentence on a misdemeanor charge.
In D.C., a drunk driving vehicular homicide charge can result in a prison term of anywhere from 0 to 30 years. That’s obviously a huge gap.
While prosecutors may thoroughly investigate most cases, you can’t always count on them to spend the time and money for accident reconstruction each and every time. This is particularly so if the crash did not result in a death. (Even DUI accidents that result in property damage or injury can result in substantial penalties and fines.)
This is where your DUI defense lawyer is critical. In addition to having an expansive knowledge of the complexities of DUI law, an experienced DUI lawyer has extensive contacts with those who specialize in accident reconstructions and can help prove what really happened.
In this case, according to reports, the crash happened shortly after midnight on July 5 last year in New York City. The woman was walking near an intersection when she was reportedly struck by a sedan driven by the defendant. The woman was rushed to the hospital, where she died five days later.
According to The New York Post, the driver stayed on the scene. He reportedly revealed to investigating officers that he had consumed six beers at a family Fourth of July gathering prior to the wreck. His blood-alcohol level was measured at 0.126, well above the legal limit.
He was still charged with operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, a misdemeanor. He later pleaded guilty to this charge.
If you are facing DUI charges in D.C., contact the Law Office of Daniel A. Gross, PLLC at 202-596-5716.