Articles Posted in DUI homicide

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Many states are moving to impose harsher penalties against those who cause fatal drunk driving collisions, especially when the victim was a parent to a minor child. Texas recently joined Tennessee in enacting a law allowing courts to order child support payments to children who lost a parent in these preventable tragedies. Legislators hope measures like these will deter drunk driving by increasing potential penalties. Critics argue there are already strong deterrents in place through fines, jail time, and license suspension. While similar legislation was previously introduced in Illinois, it did not pass. If you are accused of causing a fatal DUI crash, it is smart to speak to an Illinois DUI defense attorney about your possible defenses.

Tough New DUI Penalties in Texas

It is reported a new Texas law recently went into effect that will require those found guilty of intoxication manslaughter to pay child support to any minor children of the victim. Under House Bill 393, courts must order monthly child support payments to children under 19 years old who suffered the loss of a guardian or parent due to the defendant’s actions.

Allegedly, the court will determine a reasonable payment amount based on factors like the child’s financial, physical, and emotional needs, the standard of living the child is accustomed to enjoying, and the convicted person’s resources. Defendants must begin making payments after release if imprisoned at the time of conviction. Proponents argue this law provides crucial financial stability for families devastated by drunk driving deaths. The law underscores efforts to impose harsher penalties on drunk drivers who take lives. It went into effect as Texas aims to curb holiday weekend DUIs, with over 300 related crashes and 20 deaths last Labor Day. Continue reading →

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In order to convict a defendant of a DUI crime, the state must prove each element of the charged offense beyond a reasonable doubt. As such, if the defense can demonstrate that a measure of doubt exists as to the defendant’s guilt, it should be able to obtain a verdict in its favor. This was demonstrated recently in a DUI case arising in New Hampshire in which a commercial truck driver was acquitted of manslaughter, negligent homicide, and other charges due to questions regarding the cause of the subject collision. While the ruling has no direct impact on Illinois law, it serves as a reminder that merely because a person is charged with a DUI crime does not mean that they will be convicted. If you live in Illinois and are charged with causing a DUI related accident or injury, it is smart to speak to an attorney to discuss what defenses you may be able to assert.

The New Hampshire Case

It is reported that a commercial truck driver who was involved in an accident that caused the death of seven motorcyclists was acquitted of all charges related to the accident. During the trial, the prosecution and defense offered conflicting reports of how the accident occurred; the prosecution argued that the truck driver was under the influence of heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl, was swerving all over the highway, and struck the motorcyclists.

Allegedly, the defense called the prosecution’s arguments into doubt, however, by offering evidence that the first motorcyclist was intoxicated and swerved in front of the truck driver, causing the collision. The defense also offered testimony from an accident reconstructionist who opined that the accident occurred because the motorcyclists crossed the center line. Ultimately, the jury found the defense’s arguments to be more compelling and acquitted the defendant. Continue reading →

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This summer, the Florida Supreme Court heard arguments regarding whether the state has sufficient rules for measuring the blood-alcohol levels for DUI suspects. The case arose after a Palm Beach millionaire was convicted of DUI manslaughter following a 2010 collision. His attorneys challenged the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (“FDLE“) rules before the state high court. While the rules are not exactly the same in Illinois, people charged with an Illinois DUI may raise similar types of arguments in some cases.

Following a late-night two-vehicle accident, in which the other driver died after his vehicle was submerged in a canal, the defendant was charged with DUI manslaughter with failure to render aid (Count 1) and vehicular homicide with failure to render aid (Count 2). He was convicted and sentenced following his first trial. After juror misconduct came to light, his first conviction was vacated, and he was granted a new trial.

At the second trial, the evidence showed that he ran a stop sign without braking and “t-boned” the victim. He was going 63 miles per hour in a 35 mile per hour zone. The force of the impact pushed the victim’s Hyundai through the intersection and into a nearby canal, where it came to rest upside down. The defendant did not remain on the scene or assist the victim, who ultimately drowned. The victim did not sustain fatal injuries in the collision itself. Earlier in the evening, the defendant had consumed alcohol at several venues, the amount of which was a contested issue at trial. He was charged with DUI Manslaughter, Failure to Give Information or Render Aid, and Failure to Render Aid and Vehicular Homicide.

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A man was killed in a car crash caused by a driver who huffed 1,1-difluoroethane, or DFE, immediately before and while driving. Based on her prior history of becoming unconscious after huffing DFE, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court concluded that her conduct constituted the high level of recklessness required for a finding of malice sufficient to support her convictions of third-degree murder and aggravated assault. It therefore affirmed the superior court’s decision. This decision may be relevant to Illinois drug DUI cases in the event that the courts in this state consider a similar situation.

The Commonwealth charged the driver with numerous offenses, including aggravated assault, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault while DUI, homicide by vehicle, third-degree murder, and homicide by vehicle while DUI.

At her October 2014 jury trial, the evidence showed that the driver and her then-fiance drove to a Walmart store. They purchased two cans of Dust-Off and some other items and then returned to the car. (Dust-Off contains DFE, a colorless gas commonly used as a refrigerant or as a propellant for aerosol sprays and in gas duster products.) Before exiting the parking lot, she opened the Dust-Off, and both she and her ex-fiance huffed.

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