A judge has thrown out a major piece of evidence in the trial of a 34 year-old man who is charged with two counts involuntary manslaughter, three counts of maiming by DUI and having two DUIs in five years. In December 2011, the defendant was driving his Chevy Tahoe the wrong way on I-64 in Hampton when he slammed into a Ford Taurus, which was traveling west. Two of the five people in the Taurus were killed. The victims, ages 19 and 17, were both freshmen at Christopher Newport University. After the accident, the defendant was taken to the hospital and his blood alcohol level was .21, three times the legal limit.
But there is a legal argument over when exactly the defendant was charged with DUI following the accident. According to a report on WAVY TV 10, the defense attorney argued that troopers investigating the accident didn’t follow Virginia state law, which states that in order for a person to be arrested for DUI, the arrest must take place within three hours of driving. The attorney claimed that his client wasn’t charged until August when he was indicted by a grand jury. However, a trooper who was at the scene testified that she told the defendant at the scene he was being arrested for DUI. The trooper didn’t handcuff him because he was in an ambulance being transported to the hospital.
A circuit judge agreed with the defense and has dismissed the blood alcohol test results evidence. The Commonwealth’s Attorney is appealing the decision.
The Virginia Injury Lawyer Perspective:
The defendant in this case has a prior criminal history of driving while intoxicating. In 2004, he was in the military, stationed in Germany, when he was arrested for DUI. He was charged again in 2006 while stationed in Hawaii. And just three weeks after this fatal accident, he was convicted sentenced to one year in jail stemming from DUI charges from September 2011.
Hopefully an appeals court will allow the blood alcohol test results back in as evidence in this man’s criminal trial. But he should also be held civilly accountable for the pain and suffering he has caused for all the victims and their families.