On Nov. 15, Washington courts handed down an 18-year prison term for a 51-year-old man who killed a couple and injured two additional people in a drunken driving accident. He received the maximum possible sentence because of the severity of the accident and because he had a history of drunken-driving arrests. His blood-alcohol-content level registered about triple the legal limit of .08 percent at the time of the accident on March 25. He was on probation at the time of the incident and was driving on a suspended license. The courts had previously ordered him to install an ignition interlock device on his truck, which wasn't done.
In October, he entered a guilty plea to vehicular homicide and vehicular assault. The prosecutors submitted a recommendation for the maximum prison sentence, and the judge concurred. The couple who was killed had just moved to the city to be near family. Their daughter-in-law sustained a broken pelvis and later suffered a stroke due to the after effects of the accident. She is now wheelchair-bound. Her baby also suffered brain trauma and could be permanently blind.
The family has filed a lawsuit against the city and claims the city didn't properly supervise the man while he was on probation. Other residents are seeking stricter DUI laws in hopes of preventing this type of situation from reoccurring. The legislature strengthened vehicular homicide laws in 2012, which means the man will serve a longer prison sentence than he might have otherwise.
When someone faces charges for drunk driving and they are already on probation, the courts could sentence them separately for each offense and order them to serve the sentences consecutively. A criminal defense lawyer might be able to argue for a combined sentence in the cases to reduce the penalties the client faces.
Source: KOMO News, "18-year sentence for drunk driver who plowed into family", November 15, 2013
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