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DUI charges upgraded for driver who caused fiery, fatal accident

By itself, drunk driving is a serious criminal offense that can lead to a fine, loss of driving privileges and possible jail time. If a driver who is allegedly intoxicated causes an accident in which people are injured or killed, the criminal charges may include the very serious felony of vehicular homicide. A recent accident on the Southern State Parkway in Islip provides a vivid illustration of what happens when a driver who is allegedly drunk causes an accident in which people are killed.

According to evidence presented at the arraignment, the defendant was driving over 100 mph when he crashed into the rear of a vehicle containing a family of four. The family’s car burst into flames. The mother was able to escape, but she watched helplessly as the other three members of her family were burned to death. The driver left the scene in the car of a friend, but he was later arrested and charged with DUI.

At the arraignment, the district attorney told the court that the charges against the driver were upgraded from a DWI charge to aggravated vehicular homicide. Among other evidence presented by the prosecutor was a cell phone video that allegedly shows the defendant throwing a tequila bottle into a nearby grove of trees. The police recovered the bottle and allege that it proves that the defendant had been drinking before the accident. The friend who allegedly drove the defendant from the scene was also charged with being an accessory to the charge of leaving the scene. The driver’s attorney denied that his client was drunk and that he intended to leave the scene of the accident.

A conviction for aggravated vehicular homicide can mean a heavy fine, loss of driving privileges and a significant jail sentence. Anyone who is facing such charges may wish to seek the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney. A knowledgeable and experienced lawyer can evaluate the evidence, suggest possible defenses and provide an estimate of the likelihood of obtaining a favorable plea agreement or outright acquittal.

Source: Long Island News 12, “Charges upgraded for driver in fatal SSP crash,” Aug. 27, 2015