Man Indicted for Fatal DWI Accident in Cape May had Seven Previous Drunk Driving Arrests

Multiple drunken driving arrests or numerous DWI convictions can be devastating to a New Jersey resident’s driving record, much less a person’s life. When a traffic fatality is involved, the legal situation can become very serious very quickly. As a New Jersey drunk driving defense attorney, I and my colleagues have represented hundreds of individuals in drunk driving-related court cases. Many of these cases have had to do with the death of another person, which makes a DWI lawyer a necessity.

Recently an out-of-state motorist was indicted for what is referred to as aggravated manslaughter as a result of a fatal Cape May automobile crash in September of last year. According to news reports, John J. Lawless, 37, of Philadelphia was indicted on January 12 for aggravated manslaughter. The first-degree offense occurred on September 12 when Lawless allegedly killed Frederick Shelton, a Lower Township, NJ, resident.

Based on news reports, the chief assistant prosecutor in the case said that Lawless had a blood-alcohol content of 0.229 percent, which is nearly three times the legal limit in New Jersey. Authorities allege that Lawless was driving his Chrysler Sebring while intoxicated, when he veered into the southbound on Route 9 near Bennetts Crossing in Lower Township, hitting a Ford Escort carrying Shelton, his wife and the couple’s 13-year-old daughter.

Shelton was killed in the crash, while his wife, Sheri, and daughter, Brittany, were injured in the accident. The two survivors of the crash were airlifted to Cooper University Trauma Center in Camden in critical condition. According to police records, Lawless has a long record of drunk driving offenses in Pennsylvania, including:

— Oct. 3, 1996: Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) arrest
— March 16, 1998: DWI arrest with 2-month min/3-month max prison term, plead guilty
— Sept. 7, 1998: DWI arrest with 2-month min/3-month max prison term, plead guilty
— April 29, 1999: DWI arrest. Plead guilty to recklessly endangering another person. Placed on one-year probation. Plead guilty to DWI, 2-month min/3-month max prison term

— July 62, 2004: DWI arrest. Dismissed under speedy trial regulations

— June 11, 2005: DWI arrest with 1 yr min/2 yr max prison term. Plead guilty
— Dec. 24, 2008: Involved in a motor vehicle accident in Philadelphia, arrested for DWI

Law enforcement authorities state that Lawless’ Pennsylvania driver’s license was suspended indefinitely on or about 2001.

PA Man With 7 Prior DUI Arrests Indicted For Aggravated Manslaughter In Fatal Crash, CapeMayCountyHerald.com, January 12, 2010