Two DUIs Lead to Death of Pennsylvania Volunteer Fireman
Posted in General on January 12, 2015
A Loganville, Pennsylvania volunteer fireman responded to a DUI-related accident, and, while directing traffic, a second drunk driver drove around the parked emergency vehicle and then struck and killed the fireman. It is very sad that a 45-year-old man lost his life while trying to help others. The criminal justice system will punish both of the suspected DUI drivers, and the civil justice system may compensate the man’s family financially, but the court system will not bring the man back to life.
Homicide by Vehicle While DUI
The driver that struck and killed the fireman was a 32-year-old man that had a prior Driving Under the Influence offense in 2006, so he didn’t learn his lesson the first time. He was charged with Homicide by Vehicle While Driving Under the Influence, Homicide by Vehicle, Accidents Involving Death or Personal Injury, Driving Under the Influence, and summary traffic offenses. The most severe charge, Homicide by Vehicle While DUI, prohibits a person from unintentionally causing the death of another person as a result of driving under the influence. In order to be convicted of this charge, the district attorney must prove that the defendant was driving under the influence and that someone died as a result of the DUI. If the man is convicted of Homicide by Vehicle While DUI, he faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 3 years incarceration. It must be noted that the 3 year sentence is only a minimum, so a judge could impose a more severe sentence. The man has a prior criminal record, and that criminal past is a factor that a judge would consider and may decide to impose a sentence above the mandatory minimum.
First DUI Driver
The 22-year-old woman that wrecked her car and thereby caused the fireman to respond was also charged with Driving Under the Influence and Driving Under Suspension DUI-related, which means that the woman was also a repeat offender of DUI. Her BAC level was a .128%, which would put her in the middle tier of DUI penalties if convicted. A middle tier, second offense of DUI carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 days incarceration, 12 month license suspension, $750.00 fine, and 1 year ignition interlock. The Driving Under Suspension charge should be filed as a violation of 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 1543(b)(1.1), and a first violation of that charge carries a minimum sentence of 90 days incarceration, $1,000.00 fine, and an additional 12 month suspension of driving privileges.
I often talk about collateral consequences of criminal convictions, meaning additional penalties that result from convictions, such as the loss of a job, eligibility to obtain government loans, or ability to carry a firearm. Here, a collateral consequence that both DUI-offenders must face is the fact that their bad decisions to drink and get behind the wheel were factors that led to the death of an innocent man. While the woman did not directly strike the man, she will know that had she not been in an accident, the fireman would not have been put in a position to be struck by the second drunk driver.