Thursday, October 4, 2012

Virginia man accepts plea deal in fatal DUI crash

On behalf of The Law Offices of Daniel J Miller posted in Drunk Driving on Monday, July 16, 2012

The consequences of drunk driving are significant and only increase in severity if drivers happen to injure another person while they are accused of driving under the influence. For example, a suspected DUI driver who was involved in a February crash that killed a young woman was initially charged with aggravated manslaughter. Under Virginia criminal law, a person convicted of that charge can spend up to 20 years in prison.

But in a plea agreement reached with prosecutors, the 23-year-old man pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, a reduced charge, as well as DUI. The former charge carries a maximum prison term of 10 years, while he could be sentenced up to a year for the latter. Of course, the judge could provide for a shorter term at the man's sentencing in September.

The prosecutor did not commit to recommending a specific length of time as part of the plea deal, however. Instead, the prosecutor wanted input from the young woman's family before determining how much time the state would ask for at sentencing.

According to police reports of the accident, an officer observed the defendant's car enter an intersection despite having a red light. Shortly thereafter, the car hit another vehicle traveling perpendicularly to the defendant's direction of travel. Two occupants in that vehicle were injured and the third was killed.

Officers responded to the crash, where the defendant allegedly refused to take a breath test. Police initially charged him with the crime of refusal to take a breath test, but prosecutors dropped it pursuant to the plea deal. After the refusal, police executed a search warrant to take a sample of the man's blood, which revealed he was over the legal limit.

A plea bargain is one way for defendants to resolve a case. In some circumstances, however, DUI suspects may have defenses available to them that can be discovered by an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch, "Man pleads guilty in wreck that killed VCU student," Reed Williams, July 13, 2012.

Tags: DUI, manslaughter, plea bargains, sentencing

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