According to news reports, a New Jersey driver avoided a vehicular manslaughter charge in connection with a fatal 2013 auto-pedestrian collision over in Brooklyn last summer. Based on a recent article, the Newark, NJ, area motorist was sentenced to probation, a six-month driver’s license suspension, plus a $500 fine after his guilty plea for being drunk behind the wheel when he struck and fatally injured a 27-year-old woman on July 5 last year.
As Garden State DWI and drug DUI defense attorneys, my firm is all too familiar with the often devastating results of drunken driving. Although we defend individuals accused of DWI-DUI, we do not condone drunk driving; and we certainly do understand the risks involved in getting behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol. There is no doubt that a DWI arrest in conjunction with a fatal traffic accident is something that no person would ever want to have happen. In this particular case, the prosecutors apparently believed that the defendant’s reported blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.126 percent was not a factor in the tragic death of the 27-year-old victim.
According to news articles, the deadly accident took place around midnight near the intersection of Flatbush and St. Marks avenues. At that time, the defendant was driving a BMW sedan when he reportedly struck the woman. As a result of the impact, the victim sustained massive head injuries, complications from which resulted in her death five days later as she was being treated in a local hospital.
According to police reports, the defendant had apparently admitted to police that he had consumed as many as six bottles of beer during July 4th celebrations earlier in the evening. Firefighters arriving on the scene told police that the man, 25 years old at the time of the crash, had been speeding prior to the crash. Despite the over-the-limit BAC reading and the reported speeding accusation, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office chose not to pursue a vehicular manslaughter charge, which apparently outraged many people.
The reason given for the lack of a vehicular homicide charge reportedly stemmed from results of the accident reconstruction team who analyzed the collision. According to news reports, the reconstruction expert involved in the case concluded that the driver’s state of intoxication was not a contributing factor in the death of the victim.
As a result of the prosecution’s decision, the defendant ended up pleading guilty to drunken driving, which is an unclassified misdemeanor in New York that carries with it a maximum sentence of 12 months in jail, three years’ probation, and a $1,000 fine. Jail time was not ordered by the court, which instead sentenced the man to the maximum probationary period and levied a fine of $500.
Wrist Slap for DWI Killer After Brooklyn DAs Decline to Charge Homicide, April 9, 2014, StreetsBlog.org
Victim in Brooklyn DWI dies, NYPost.com, July 14, 2013