We’ve said it previously, but there are worse situations to be in than receiving a summons for drunken driving from the police. Of course, being arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is not something the average motorist is likely to welcome, but if one has to be cited for DWI it’s certainly better to be stopped for a minor traffic infraction first, than to be involved in a roadway accident.
The fact of the matter is, here in the Garden State, the police and our court system tend to be very strict when it comes to a charge of drunk driving; but add to that additional charges of property damage, bodily injury or even vehicular homicide and one can imagine that defending against the DWI or drug DUI charge will be much tougher than a simple summons for intoxicated driving.
As New Jersey DWI defense attorneys, I and my staff are acutely aware of the range of penalties for those motorists who are convicted of driving under the influence. It makes little difference whether one is drunk through the consumption of beer, wine or hard liquor, or if the charge of DUI is related to impairment as a result of doctor-prescribed medication. Naturally, other drugs, controlled substances like cocaine and marijuana, are actually illegal in and of themselves.
We caught a story a while back about resident of Middletown, PA, who was arrested in 2011 after losing control of his vehicle and causing the death of a passenger in the ensuing wreck. According to news reports, 31-year-old John O’Brien pleaded guilty not long ago to vehicular homicide while operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol and drugs. The crash killed 27-year-old Steven Woulk, a friend of the defendant.
Based on news accounts, the accident that took Woulk’s life happened a little before midnight on November 4 of last year. Both men had reportedly been out that evening celebrating t O’Brien’s birthday. Court records indicated that the victim had been driving as well, but at some point turned the vehicle over to O’Brien because Woulk felt he was too drunk to drive.
At the time of the accident, police estimated that the vehicle was traveling at or near 80mph when O’Brien apparently lost control and the vehicle swerved into oncoming traffic. The car slammed head on into a pickup truck driven by two New Jersey men. While those two individuals survived the accident with only minor injuries, Woulk received fatal injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene by police.
Taken into custody, O’Brien’s blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) was reportedly measured at 0.23 percent, which is almost three times greater than the legal limit. Additional evidence backing up the prosecution’s case against the man came in the form of medical tests; doctors who treated O’Brien found traces of cocaine metabolite in his system.
According to new articles, O’Brien was convicted of another DUI back in 2001, for which he served two days in jail. Court records showed that the man also had two later impaired driving convictions in 2006. For those, O’Brien served a combined 90-day sentence.
As a result of a plea agreement, which came in light of the previous history of DUI convictions, O’Brien was sentenced to 4-8 years in jail for DUI homicide. The man’s driver’s license will reportedly be under suspension for what news reports stated was a “significant amount of time.” In addition, O’Brien was fined $2,500 and ordered to pay restitution to the deceased’s family in the amount of nearly $18,000, mainly for the cost of the victim’s funeral and the medical expenses incurred by the men injured in the pickup truck that O’Brien hit.
Man gets 4 to 8 years in prison for fatal accident, his fourth DUI; PhillyBurbs.com; May 8, 2012