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Drugged driving blamed for Louisiana Christmas fatality

Articles 893 and 894 in the Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure allow defendants charged with certain crimes to avoid convictions, provided that court orders are satisfied. A guilty plea is suspended while the defendant fulfills the plea agreement conditions. At the completion of probation, community service or other penalties, charges may be dropped. Baton Rouge defendants who do not live up to the terms of the court agreement may have the sentence suspension revoked. The guilty plea would take effect with consequences, as if the article was never invoked.

An Acadia Parish man was suspected of drugged driving when he drove a pickup truck across the center line of a Louisiana road on Christmas. The truck smashed head-on into an Oldsmobile, killing the 35-year-old driver and injuring two others in the car.

The defendant was charged with homicide, negligent injury, reckless driving and repeat DWI. Police also said the 48-year-old truck driver deactivated an ignition interlock device used to monitor the blood alcohol content of drunk-driving offenders and prevent impaired driving. Authorities believe the truck driver was high on narcotics at the time of the fatal crash, which left one of the survivors with severe injuries.

The defendant's criminal record showed a series of DWI arrests starting in 1995. Among the other charges in the defendant's history were assault, battery, drug offenses and a DWI injury accident. In many of the cases, charges were either dropped or resolved by plea deals, with only a short period of incarceration.

Criminal defense attorneys work to use state laws to a defendant's advantage. Every opportunity to secure a client's freedom is explored, whether that means negotiations for reduced bail or lighter penalties. Defending someone with a criminal past is more challenging than having a defendant with a first-time offense. Every person under arrest has rights, no matter what criminal history they have. Criminal lawyers work to make sure those rights are protected.

Source: The Advocate, "Police say drug impaired driver caused fatal crash in Acadia" Billy Gunn, Dec. 30, 2013

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