Philly.com reported that a 25-year-old drunk driver caused a crash outside the Eagles game Sept. 19 that injured seven people. The man allegedly was traveling west in a Jeep Grand Cherokee when he plowed into a Ford Escape carrying six people as the Ford attempted to make a turn. All six people in the Ford suffered injuries, and two of the people were in critical condition at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP) with head trauma, although they were expected to survive. The other four occupants of the Ford were in stable condition at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and HUP. The alleged drunk driver of the Jeep also suffered minor injuries; he was treated at Methodist Hospital before being released to police custody.
The collision also caused the Ford to strike another vehicle, a Honda Pilot that also was westbound, but none of its occupants was injured or impaired, according to police.
As the driver was arrested following his release from the hospital, it is assumed that he was charged with DUI, as his blood alcohol content (BAC) measured at 0.08 percent or higher at the time of the accident. However, due to the injuries that occurred to others, this drunk driver very well may be charged with more serious criminal charges.
When a driver who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs causes an accident that injures another person, the driver may be subject to more serious criminal charges under Pennsylvania law. More specifically, this driver may be charged with aggravated assault while under the influence, which is a second-degree felony. This very severe charge under Pennsylvania law carries a minimum three-year sentence and a maximum 10-year sentence of incarceration, as well as up to $25,000 in fines. In order to win a conviction of aggravated assault while under the influence, the state district attorney must prove the following elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The person’s injury was the direct cause of the driver’s drunk driving in violation of drunk driving laws, and
- The accident must have created “a substantial risk of death” or resulted in “serious, permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ” to a person other than the drunk driver.
Even if the state cannot prove the elements stated above, a drunk driver who causes an accident resulting in less serious injuries to another person or persons may still face lesser DUI charges, but may receive sentence enhancements, or more serious sentences, as a result of the injuries caused to others involved in the accident.
If you or a loved one has been charged with DUI, or caused a drunk driving accident that resulted in injuries to others, it is crucial that you contact The Law Offices of Steven E. Kellis today for help. An experienced Pennsylvania DUI lawyer can assist you in building a strong defense against serious charges and resolving your case in the most favorable manner.