An Alabama man was recently sentenced to a maximum of 20 years in prison for driving under the influence when he killed a U.S. serviceman on February 2, 2008. According to news reports, Kenneth Allen Keith, a resident of Birmingham, AL, was drunk when he drove head-on into another vehicle driven by Tech. Sgt. John W. Templin, 42. According to court records, the 47-year-old Keith had two previous misdemeanor DUI convictions, as well as a prior felony conviction, which did not involve alcohol of drung DUI.
As a Birmingham DUI defense lawyer, I have represented clients with similar backgrounds charged with driving under the influence of alcohol. In this case, the charge of vehicular homicide was very serious, and should have required the services of a drunk driving defense attorney. The man's prior drunk driving history likely did not help his case. This is probably why the defendant entered a guilty plea.
According to reports, Keith had a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.20 percent — more than twice the legal limit of 0.08 in Mississippi where the accident occurred. Apparently driving in an intoxicated state, Keith lost control of his Toyota Tundra and allowed it to cross into the oncoming lanes of Pass Road near Stennis Drive. His pickup struck a 2003 Mitsubishi Montero driven by Templin, a native of Minnesota.
Following the guilty plea, Harrison County Circuit Court Judge Roger Clark sentenced Keith to 20 years in prison for the DUI-related traffic death. Based on the law in that state, the man must serve 85 percent of his term, which comes to 17 years.
It has been suggested that the judge based his decision, in part, on the fact that the Keith had prior DUI convictions. Reports also indicate that judges in that part of the country are leaning toward the high end of the sentencing guidelines when it comes to felony DUI homicide cases involving a prior DUI conviction.
Man gets 20 years for DUI in deadly collision, SunHearld.com, October 20, 2009