An alleged drunk driver has entered a guilty plea for assault charges in connection with a collision in Missouri that severely injured a college student. The 20-year-old victim reportedly suffered serious injury during the wreck, which has caused her to walk with a cane and take time away from her studies at Tulane University. News reports indicate that the driver wept openly at the courtroom proceedings, during which he entered his guilty plea for vehicular assault.
Authorities report that the man admitted to drinking more than four beers after a late-night work shift before getting behind the wheel to go home. That is when he ran into the victim’s vehicle, as both were driving on Missouri 19 at about 10 a.m. on a Sunday. The man’s blood alcohol content at the time of the collision was 0.131 percent, significantly higher than the state’s legal limit of 0.08 percent. A subsequent test taken later in the day confirmed that his BAC measured at about 0.079 percent. Even though this reading may seem low, officers factor in alcohol metabolism to work backward, calculating the estimated BAC at the time of the actual collision.
The defendant has been ordered to spend a 120-day term in a state prison alcohol rehabilitation program as a criterion for the plea agreement. Then, a judge will decide whether to sentence him to the remaining five years in prison; if he is rehabilitated enough, he may be released on probation. He must also serve 800 hours of community service. Now, the man is just awaiting further courtroom proceedings in the matter, as his formal sentencing date is slated for next month.
Even though this man pleaded guilty to vehicular assault, he will avoid serious penalties if he is able to successfully complete the rehabilitation treatment plan prescribed by the Missouri judge. DWI convictions do not always have to have long-term consequences for offenders; in fact, criminal defense attorneys can sometimes negotiate fair deals, such as this plea agreement. Defendants accused of driving while intoxicated may benefit from the assistance of a qualified criminal defense attorney, especially if they are facing multiple offenses.
Source: KHQA 7, “Tearful plea agreement in ‘Pray Out Loud’ DUI case” Kris Wernowsky, Dec. 18, 2013