In most states, if a motor vehicle collision caused by an intoxicated driver results in the death of one or more people, the intoxicated driver may be charged with a more serious crime than a simple DUI. Recently, a Texas court evaluated whether a person who causes an accident driving while intoxicated was properly found guilty of felony DUI with the use of a deadly weapon. While the court ultimately ruled that the evidence was not sufficient to uphold the deadly weapon charge, the court did not preclude a finding that a car could be considered a deadly weapon under certain circumstances. If you were involved in an alcohol-related fatal accident and are charged with aggravated DUI, it is critical to speak with a capable Illinois DUI attorney to discuss your available defenses.
Factual Background of the Texas Case
Reportedly, the defendant was driving on a road in Bryan, Texas, when the victim stepped in front of his car. The defendant’s car struck the victim, who was rendered unconscious. The defendant picked up the victim and placed him in his car, with the intention of taking him to the hospital. He got sidetracked, however, and was involved in an altercation which resulted in the police being called. Upon arrival, the police noticed that the victim was bloody and incoherent in the defendant’s car and questioned the defendant regarding what happened. The defendant stated that the victim stepped in front of his car, and he struck him. He also stated that he drank two “Four Loco” alcoholic beverages but refused to submit to field sobriety testing or a blood draw.
It is reported that the defendant was charged with felony driving while intoxicated and that the State sought a deadly weapon finding. The jury found the defendant guilty of driving while intoxicated and found that he used a deadly weapon, his car, during the commission of the crime. The defendant appealed, arguing that there was insufficient evidence to support the deadly weapon finding. On appeal, the court reversed as to the deadly weapon charge, on the grounds that there was no evidence that the defendant operated his car in a dangerous or reckless manner. Specifically, the court found that there was no evidence apart from the defendant’s intoxication to support the finding and under Texas law intoxication alone is not sufficient to support an inference that a defendant drove in a reckless or dangerous manner.
Illinois Laws Regarding Death in DUI Cases
The Illinois Vehicle Code permits the State to charge a person with an aggravated DUI if the person is involved in a motor vehicle collision that results in another person’s death. An aggravated DUI charge arising out of car accident that causes a fatality is a Class 2 felony. While it is evident that drivers involved in alcohol-related fatal car accidents can face significant charges and penalties, the Illinois courts have not held that a driver can be found guilty of aggravated DUI with the use of a deadly weapon. As multiple states allow for such findings, however, the Illinois courts may ultimately find that a car may be considered a deadly weapon in a DUI case.
Consult a Seasoned Illinois DUI Attorney Regarding Your Case
If you live in Illinois and are facing aggravated DUI charges you should speak with a seasoned Illinois DUI attorney regarding your potential defenses. Harvatin Law Offices, P.C. works tirelessly to assist Illinois drivers charged with DUI protect their liberties. You can contact our office at 217.525.0520 to schedule a consultation.