Collisions with DWI – Virginia DUI lawyer weighs in on penalties
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Collisions caused by alcohol can lead to harsher jail sentences, says Virginia DUI lawyer
Collisions can result from drunk driving. As a Virginia DUI lawyer, I know that many trial judges in my home county of Fairfax and beyond in the commonwealth will sentence DWI more harshly when believing that the convicted DUI is causally connected to any collision in the incident. Virginia criminal defense lawyers need to prepare their clients of this possibility, and need to be prepared for reducing this risk.
Vehicular homicide and maiming while DUI in Virginia
Moreover, homicide caused unintentionally by driving under the influence of alcohol and / or drugs is involuntary manslaughter, a Class 5 felony.
Additionally, a Class 6 felony results from a conviction for collisions with maiming, which is defined as unintentionally causing “serious bodily injury of another person resulting in permanent and significant physical impairment” as a result of DWI “in a manner so gross, wanton and culpable as to show a reckless disregard for human life.” Va. Code § 18.2-51.4.
The mere happening of an automobile accident does not automatically mean that the accident was caused by DUI
“The mere happening of an accident does not give rise to an inference of reckless driving.” Powers v. Virginia, 211 Va. 386 (1970). Similarly, the mere happening of an accident does not automatically mean that the accident was caused by DUI. Absent proof that DUI caused a collision, no enhanced conviction nor enhanced sentencing should be imposed against a Virginia DWI defendant when collisions are involved.
Leave remedies for collisions with DUI, to civil court proceedings
Judges and jurors who learn of a serious automobile collision as a result of DUI may want to sentence more harshly as a result. However, seeing that Virginia’s DWI laws are geared to avoiding collisions and injury from DUI, no extra penalty should be imposed for a resulting collision. The better forum for seeking relief for a collision caused by alcohol, is the civil lawsuit process.
How serious was the accident?
If a Virginia judge is going to consider collisions in determining a DUI sentence, the judge should also consider mitigating circumstances, and the seriousness of the accident, including sparseness level of traffic, the extent of property damage and bodily injury, the defendant’s words and behavior on the scene (remembering that the defendant likely is shaken up by the collision), the number of automobiles involved (ranges from one to several), and the defendant’s background and efforts t0 self rehabilitate in the light of the incident.
Virginia DUI lawyer Jonathan L. Katz is a highly-rated lawyer pursuing your best defense against felony, misdemeanor and DWI prosecutions. To discuss your case with Jon Katz, please call his staff at 703-383-1100 to schedule a confidential consultation.