DUI Manslaughter Charge Results From Intersection Crash
Police say they detected a strong odor of cannabis coming from a woman’s car after she struck a motorcyclist. The motorcyclist was pronounced dead at the scene. The woman was held on suspicion of DUI and charged with DUI manslaughter. The results of a blood test are pending.
In many cases, police arrive at the scene of a crash after it has happened. When there are no witnesses to the crash, it can be difficult to determine who is at fault for the accident. At this point, all we know is that a crash occurred at an intersection. The defendant appears to have been making a left-hand turn when she was struck by the victim’s motorcycle. So the defendant didn’t even strike the victim’s car, it was the other way around.
Police aren’t going to check the victim’s BAC to determine if he plowed into the woman’s vehicle. They arrive at the scene, see a woman who looks woozy, “smell” marijuana, and they assume it’s a DUI.
What about the blood test?
The blood test cannot establish that a defendant was high at the time of an accident. To do that, the state presents a blood test that proves that the defendant smokes marijuana regularly and then a police officer would provide testimony to say the defendant was high, appeared high, failed a field sobriety test, or whatever else.
Currently, there is no scientifically-accepted test for marijuana intoxication. However, this has not stopped some states from prosecuting marijuana DUIs. So, it’s best to err on the side of caution. However, does that mean that this particular defendant will face a DUI manslaughter charge?
DUI versus DUI manslaughter
When it comes to DUI manslaughter, the police must do more than establish you were intoxicated and in an accident. That’s all they’ve established (if they can establish intoxication). It is not given that the defendant caused this accident. While the defendant could have caused the accident by pulling into the turn lane as the motorcycle was coming, it’s also possible that the motorcycle didn’t respond to the vehicle in the lane. In other words, without witness testimony, video footage, or an accident reconstruction specialist, we don’t know who caused this accident.
On the other hand, the state doesn’t need to prove you caused an accident to charge you with simple DUI. So, if the manslaughter charges do not stick, the DUI charge likely will.
For the defendant, she now needs to fight a manslaughter charge. So the stakes for drivers who get into accidents are very high, even when they might not be responsible for the accident.
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