A 29-year-old Missouri man has pleaded guilty to criminal charges after reportedly causing a fatal drunk crash in 2013. The defendant pleaded guilty to felony DWI, driving without a license, second-degree murder and second-degree assault, according to reports. The man was subject to a license suspension at the time of the fatal collision.
Authorities report that this incident marked the man’s third DWI charge, which elevates the severity of the charge to the felony level. Typical charges would have been listed as involuntary manslaughter. Instead, the man was accused of felony murder in connection with the crash.
Investigators say that the driver was traveling in the wrong direction on Highway 54 in Cole County when he crashed head-on into another vehicle. A 19-year-old woman who was driving the car died. Her passenger also suffered serious injury. The defendant in this case is still awaiting sentencing, which is slated to occur in mid-August.
The defendant in this case was driving with a suspended license at the time of the accident, which caused him to face harsher penalties than he would have otherwise. Criminal defendants who are facing multiple offenses or repeat penalties for DWI conviction may require a different legal strategy than those who are accused of first-time violations. Missouri officials say they are committed to aggressive prosecution for those who violate their suspended license and face new DWI charges.
Even alleged multiple-DWI offenders should realize that an arrest and arraignment does not mean that the driver is automatically considered guilty. In addition to plea agreements, there are a variety of other legal options that can have potentially positive outcomes. DWI offenders have the right to a fair, unbiased legal proceeding, even if they have been convicted of drunk driving in the past.
Source: KQFX Fox 22, “Man pleads guilty to deadly DWI crash in Jefferson City” Lucas Geisler, Jun. 16, 2014