A 15-month-old baby was killed in a DUI accident in Franklin County recently, two media outlets report, and the driver of one of the two vehicles that crashed has been charged with DUI manslaughter.
Birmingham DUI Lawyers have seen how DUI-related accidents have caused many injuries and deaths. But despite public outcry and the constant push for tougher penalties, these defendants are not criminals upon arrest. They are simply accused of a crime without proof and have a constitutional right, as we all do, to an aggressive defense and a fair trial. DUI manslaughter in Birmingham and throughout Alabama is the most serious DUI-related crime on the books.
In this case, according to The Times Daily, the toddler was in a child safety seat in the back of a Ford when the vehicle she was riding in was involved in an accident. Also in the car was a 14-year-old girl and a 34-year-old woman.
The teenager was injured, but the driver was not, the newspaper reported. In the other vehicle was a 42-year-old Phil Campbell woman, also driving a Ford. She was not injured.
The newspaper reported that it was the 41st fatality in 2011 in the northwest Alabama and southern Tennessee counties of Wayne and Lawrence. In 2010, there were 32 fatalities in those two counties all of last year. CBS News added the update that the 42-year-old woman has been charged with DUI and manslaughter.
A person can be sentenced anywhere from 1 to 10 years in prison if they are convicted of DUI manslaughter in Alabama. And in cases where a person dies or is severely injured, police often file additional charges to pile on to the defendant, such as DUI causing property damage and other related charges.
The penalties can pile up and can be a life-changing event for people facing the charge. And these cases can be extremely complex, though the media often describe them in simple terms. Many cases come down to who actually caused the crash. As we all know, sober drivers can be as reckless as drunk drivers.
Accident reconstructionists can be hired to re-enact an accident as proof of innocence in court. The legality of field sobriety testing and breath testing can also be challenged. These cases are typically more than meets the eye and must be handled aggressively and diligently.
In order to be charged with DUI manslaughter, the state must prove, obviously, that the driver caused the accident that caused death and that they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol above the legal limit of a .08 blood-alcohol content level.
In order to prove a person is drunk, officers usually administer field sobriety tests, such as walking in a straight line, following an object with one's eyes and standing on one leg. But what must be taken into consideration are medical conditions, extreme duress and road conditions, that can affect the results of these tests.
If someone is asked to perform a breath test, a device will be used that has a tube and a driver is instructed to blow into it. It spits out a reading that is supposed to be an accurate blood-alcohol level test, but it can't be. If no blood is used, it can't measure the level, but only give an estimation. And manufacturing defects, weather conditions and even what someone eats can affect the output.
Toddler Killed in Car Wreck, Driver Charged With DUI, by Jerrita Patterson, CBS News
15-month-old dies in wreck, by Bernie Delinski, The Times Daily