Murder Charges for DUI Drivers May Be on the Horizon After New York Accidents
It’s not the first time you’ve said it, and you’ll say it again: New Yorkers are crazy drivers. Every time you take a bridge or tunnel into the city, you’re amazed by the number of maniacs driving with New York plates—and as a New Jerseyan, you’re more than a little concerned about how close to home these drivers are.
But now it seems that some of these drivers could answer with more than money for causing a crash on the George Washington Bridge—they could go to prison for drugged driving.
Drivers Could Be Charged for Murder After Causing a Fatal Crash
While many cases of drunk driving have carried criminal charges (such as vehicular manslaughter) after a victim is killed in a crash, charging the driver with murder is a more difficult concept. So far, only two defendants in New York City have faced criminal murder charges for fatal DUI car accidents. The most recent case involved a man who crashed a car into a corner grocery in 2013, killing one person and injuring two others. He was found guilty of driving under the influence of PCP, also known as angel dust, and was charged with murder at his recent arraignment.
Getting Murder Charges to Stick for Drugged Drivers Can Be Difficult
In order for a drunken driver to be charged with murder after a crash, the prosecutors must prove that the driver demonstrated a “depraved indifference to human life” (a vehicular manslaughter charge does not carry this same stipulation). In New York State, the Supreme Court has ruled that “depraved indifference” is a particular frame of mind that allows a person to consciously and willingly disregard the value of human life.
DUI cases present a difficult legal problem in proving “depraved indifference.” While a person could be in a state of mind where they do not care what happens to others before taking drugs, there had been little legal precedence for judging a person’s state of mind while they are under the influence. If a person who knows that driving while high or intoxicated is wrong when he is sober disregards these opinions while inebriated, is this enough of an indifference to constitute murder? It will be up to your lawyer to prove negligence, and the lawyer you choose can make or break your case.
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