Motorcyclist Arrested After Crash Kills Passenger
A motorcyclist is facing DUI manslaughter charges after plowing into the back of a stopped vehicle. A 29-year-old woman was killed in the crash. Police say the man did not recall having a passenger when he was confronted. Police also say his BAC was well over the legal limit when the crash occurred. The driver of the second vehicle was not injured.
Analyzing the charges
The passenger was rushed to the hospital where she died of her injuries. The motorcyclist appears to be solely responsible for the crash. In a rear-end collision, the person who does the rear-ending is typically going to be held liable or mostly liable for the accident. There are exceptions to that rule, but they certainly don’t apply to a traffic situation.
In this case, it appears that the driver was blacked out or asleep at the wheel and never saw the vehicle. The driver somehow survived the incident, but his passenger did not. He is now criminally responsible for her death.
Analyzing potential outcomes
A case like this ends in prison time. The defendant was found behind the wheel of a vehicle, and someone died as a result of his failure to control it properly. There is no defense to that set of circumstances. Defendants in these cases face mandatory minimum sentences of four years in state prison. However, the law provides for a recommended sentence of 10 years, so defendants must qualify for the “downward departure”. In many cases, this means drug and alcohol treatment. But the law affords a defendant no way out of prison time for a DUI manslaughter charge.
The defendant’s best outcome, is thus to either beat the charges with the not-guilty verdict, which would be almost impossible with these allegations, state that the test was faulty, which may not be enough, or hope for a 4-year prison sentence.
Criteria for a downward departure
Unless you have prior DUIs on your record and just don’t appear to be getting the picture, most people do not spend ten years in prison for DUI manslaughter. So the majority of cases end up with downward departures so long as this is the defendant’s first offense. However, attorneys rarely have the leverage to move a plea deal away from the 4-year minimum. So, once someone dies and the evidence indicates it’s your fault, the law straps our hands when it comes to plea bargains. A prosecutor would have to be willing to drop the DUI manslaughter charge, which they won’t do unless it’s a 50/50 roll of the dice at trial.
However, the defendant does not have anyone else to blame for this accident. So, all of the fault comes down on him. The victim wasn’t responsible. Nor was the driver who was rear ended. So, the prosecution would win this case in front of a jury.
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