Drunk Driver Kills Deputy Directing Traffic

A man with two prior convictions for DWI was recently sent to jail for 99 years for killing a deputy while the deputy was directing traffic. At trial, the jury convicted the man of aggravated assault causing serious bodily harm to a public servant and murder. The driver’s blood alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit at the time of the accident.

The 99-year sentence applied to the murder charge. Another 42 years were added to run concurrently for the assault conviction.

It never, ever pays to drive while under the influence of alcohol. No one is immune from being caught. No one is immune from the possibility of killing someone and/or themselves. If you insist on drinking, do not drive – period. If you have been involved in an accident with a negligent drunken driver, speak with a competent DWI attorney to protect your rights.

Ethan Couch Case Sparks Sentencing Controversy in Texas

In 2004, Roy Adams, Jr. struck and killed a police officer who had another driver stopped by the side of the road in North Texas. When the case reached court, he was given a 12.5 year prison sentence for DUI and intoxicated manslaughter.

In a similar, well-publicized case, 16-year-old Ethan Couch was given a 10 year probation sentence. Adams’ mother believes that Couch’s family had both the influence and affluence to skew the justice system for their child, and she plans to picket the local courthouse until her own son is out of prison.

The Tarrant County District Attorney claims that the young Texan did receive a fair trial. While both cases involved intoxication manslaughter, they differ in their details. Couch was 16 years old when his accident occurred. Adams was 28 when he killed a police officer on duty. As such, Couch was tried as a juvenile, and Adams was tried as an adult. To date, Adams has not admitted he committed the offense, despite court records indicating that his blood alcohol content was .11 at the time of the accident. Accordingly, he has been denied parole.

As the diversity between these two cases exemplifies, no two DUI, intoxicated manslaughter or other personal injury cases are alike. Prison terms will differ based on specific circumstances; each case is individually tried on its facts. Adams’ mother may feel her son is being unduly punished, but an objective third party must consider all the facts before reaching conclusions on the case. For this reason alone, it is smart to hire a qualified personal injury attorney to handle such serious cases.

Motorcycle Accident Maims Police Office and Daughter

In Los Angeles, an off-duty police officer was involved in a crash with another vehicle while riding his motorcycle with his 11-year-old daughter as a passenger. Thanks to a nurse’s quick thinking, the detective made it to the hospital alive and will recover to see his daughter grow up.

The officer lost a portion of one leg and foot in the crash, and his daughter sustained a compound fracture of her left leg. Both were admitted to the hospital in critical condition, and both received emergency surgery.

Neighbors who heard the crash told police that the area where the accident occurred had three crisscross streets and was known for its high accident rate. This one was unusually severe. Part of the man’s leg and boot were found several yards from his body. The nurse who saved the detective at the scene used a belt as a tourniquet to staunch the flow of blood from his severed leg.

Police are not certain what caused the crash, and an accident reconstruction team is slated to work toward answers. The driver of the vehicle that hit the motorcycle was not hurt, but the windows on her vehicle were blown out in the collision.

Accidents like this can happen at any time, in any place. A person’s life can change in one moment. If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident and need help recovering compensation for your injuries, do not waste any time in contacting a knowledgeable Austin motorcycle attorney.

Florida Considers Jail Sentences for Those Who Flee Accident Scenes

Florida’s proposed new law was created in response to the hit-and-run death of a cyclist in February 2012. In that accident, an allegedly drunk driver hit a cyclist and then fled the scene. No one will ever know if the driver was drunk; he turned himself in after 24 hours and was sober at that time. As such, the driver received a 21-month jail sentence for leaving the scene (as opposed to a minimum sentence of four years for DUI manslaughter), his provable offense.

The existence of a lesser sentence for leaving the scene of an accident incentivizes those like this driver to flee after causing harm, especially if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

If Florida is successful in drafting an applicable law, that incentive would be removed. Florida’s proposed legislation would increase the minimum mandatory sentence for fleeing a scene to come close to the minimum punishment for a fatal drunk driving crash. In essence, an irresponsible departure would be treated as DUI manslaughter in the event of a victim’s death. More people could face prison time because of the new law, but it sends a clear message: in the event of an accident, stay at the scene and call for help.

If Florida can revise jail sentences for fleeing an accident scene, Texas could follow suit. Would such a measure work in Texas, where drunk-driving death rates are among the highest in the U.S.? It might be worth considering.

Austin’s Drunk Driving Crashes at an All-Time High

Central Texas is earning a dubious reputation for the highest number of drunken driving collisions in the state, if not in the nation. Austin police revealed that in 2012, 33 people died as a result of crashes involving impaired drivers. In 2013, 33 died in the first three months of the year alone. The final 2013 year-end death toll is to be released this month, and based on the increases already seen in 2013, the death toll in 2014 is expected to run even higher.

Austin and the state of Texas both offer a wide variety of programs and initiatives that promote sober driving. Home for the Holiday and Arrive Alive programs have been established, and the area’s high-visibility enforcement does not allow refusals for assessment. And yet, the numbers of those killed in crashes involving a drunk driver continue to escalate.

In another attempt to counteract the trend, some are pushing for checkpoints in the state. Recent research demonstrates that DUI checkpoints can lead to a 20 percent drop in drunk driving accidents that lead to serious injuries and death. However, Texas is one of 12 states in the nation that does not currently allow checkpoints, so the law would need to be amended to initiate their use. Civil rights proponents suggest that checkpoints could open the door for abuse by police. But as the death rate continues to rise, drunk-driving crash survivors have answered, asking to refocus that concern onto victims. Drinking and driving is illegal and negligent, not to mention deadly.

Leave the Phone on the Dash

No message is important enough to merit texting while driving. Ask the financial advisor who survived a wreck when a texting driver collided with him at 55 mph. The teen was telling his father that he was on the way home from church. The man’s family and passengers were able to walk away from the wreck, but he was not so lucky. He sustained two broken hips, a broken nose, a collapsed lung, a dislocated femur, a fractured hip and a broken collarbone.

After five years of recovery, the man resumed his career and added a second, more personal mission. He has now become an event speaker, publically outlining the risks of texting behind the wheel. His presentations vividly demonstrate that people should leave their phones where they cannot reach or use them while they are driving.

A single moment of inattention from a texting driver left a whole family in a terrible state for five long, hard years. The young man did not see cars in front of him slowing down on the highway. He rear-ended them and bounced into oncoming traffic and into the path of another vehicle. The force of the crash pinned the driver between the dashboard and seat. Was the text worth it?

Think twice before using a cellphone while driving. Put it in the trunk. Put it in the glove box. Turn it off. Leave it at home. Protect your life and the lives of others.

Will Lowering the Legal Drinking Limit in Texas Make a Difference?

As a state, Texas has one of the highest rates of recorded drinking and driving. For years, law enforcement and the Texas justice system have been trying to do something to reduce the numbers. This year, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) intends to lobby for more frequent sobriety checkpoints and to force any individual convicted of a DWI offense to use an ignition interlock.

Last year, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) suggested that the states lower the legal drinking limit to 0.05 (from the present 0.08). The NTSB pointed out other nations have already taken such measures. In addition, recent studies show that some people are already impaired with a 0.07 BAC. Allegedly, when someone’s BAC is 0.05, the risk of involvement in an accident increases. More than 4 million people admit to drinking and driving. Lowering the legal limit could save up to 1,000 lives each year.

While it may make immediate sense to lower the legal drinking limit in Texas, note it took 21 years to change the legal limits to their current standards. Nonetheless, the change would provide a powerful starting point.

Death of Four and Injury of Nine Leads to Probation in Affluenza Case

One 16-year-old was involved in a drunk-driving accident that could have sent him to prison for 20 years. The collision killed four and injured several others. Instead, a judge ruled for 10 years of probation, asserting that the young man would not get the treatment or therapy he needed in prison. Some now claim that the lenient ruling was not made in just reference to the law, but in deference to the wealth of the teen’s family (a situation often dubbed “affluenza”).

The defense argued that the teen’s parents never taught him the connection between actions and consequences. He was not punished for anything he did, no matter how outrageous. According to a psychologist who testified for the defense, the young man could be most effectively rehabilitated with up to two years of treatment and no further contact with his parents. When the judge ruled accordingly, some in the courtroom objected that money and social position had seemingly skewed the case.

With a blood alcohol content of 0.24, the young man was traveling at 70 mph in a 40 mph zone on the day of the accident. Four people on the side of the road were killed, and nine others were injured when he plowed into them.

It’s a decision that left many people wondering about the fairness of the justice system. What do you think?

Sleep Apnea Presents Dangers in Trucking and Transportation

More than three million truckers travel U.S. highways every day. Many people drive to work each day alongside a big rig. The situation is cause for caution, particularly considering highway speeds, but most truckers are driving professionals. They safely follow all the road laws of the state in which they are driving. However, as in any industry or profession, there are always those who do not work with safety in mind.

In 2011, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicated that nearly 200 people died in big rig accidents over the course of the year.

Driver fatigue is one of the more common causes of accidents involving 18-wheelers. Shockingly, nearly 33 percent of truckers have been diagnosed with mild to moderate sleep apnea, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the American Transportation Research Institute of the American Trucking Associations. Sleep deprivation and insomnia are also frequent problems for those in the industry; combine all three, and the potential for an accident increases exponentially.

Every state has its own method of screening and testing drivers who may be struggling with sleep apnea. Recently, President Obama signed legislation mandating that suspected truckers, who usually have high blood pressure and are overweight, be tested. Some of the signs that may indicate sleep apnea include, but are not limited to: frequent micro-sleep sessions with two- to three-second periods of sleeping and waking, increasingly aggressive behavior, a decline in motivation, a drop in overall performance and difficulty understanding factual information.

Trucking accidents can be a jurisdictional problem. Discuss your case with an experienced trucking accident lawyer.

Freeway-Side Parking Can Cause Accidents

Four years ago, a big-rig trucker parked his 18-wheeler in an emergency lane on a southern California highway. A driver in an SUV crashed into the truck, killing three people. Though the accident took place years ago, the case is only making its way through the courts now.

At trial, the plaintiff alleged that the trucker was not permitted to pull over into an emergency lane for a sleep break, as the lanes are designated only for use in emergency situations. Additionally, he failed to set up any flares or other emergency reflectors to outline the presence of the semi.

The defendant’s attorney claimed that the trucker had pulled over to take medication for a severe headache, which qualified as an emergency.

The jury did not agree with the defendant’s reasoning and handed down a $150 million award for the 13-year-old plaintiff and her brother. Their entire family died in the fire that engulfed the SUV after it hit the parked truck.

Collisions with tractor-trailers often end in tragedy. If you have been involved in a wreck with a semi, do not wait to contact a personal injury lawyer. The scene of the accident needs to be secured immediately to preserve evidence.

Located in Austin, Texas, Lee, Gober & Reyna represents clients throughout Central Texas and the Rio Grande Valley, including the cities of Austin, Round Rock, Cedar Park, Georgetown, Temple, Waco, Bryan, Houston, Conroe, Baytown, Galveston, Beaumont, Port Arthur, San Antonio, Kerrville, New Braunfels, Seguin, San Marcos, San Angelo, Abilene, Laredo, Corpus Christi, McAllen and Harlingen, as well as Williamson County, Travis County and Hays County. Sitemap
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