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DWI involvement questioned in Baton Rouge fatal crash case

Many decisions depend upon the outcome of an investigation into the cause of a Baton Rouge motor vehicle accident. Insurance claims, criminal charges and civil lawsuits hinge on the reasons for a crash. Physical evidence, witness statements, toxicology test results and testimony are a DWI defendant’s entire future.

One of two Louisiana drivers blamed for a fatal 2011 collision near Prairieville was found guilty of negligent homicide last summer. The 26-year-old Baton Rouge woman served time in prison for the crime. Her release on five years’ probation coincided with the start of the second defendant’s trial.

A 29-year-old man is charged with vehicular homicide for the same accident that killed five occupants of a Honda Acura, including three children -- ages 3 to 11. Authorities said the crash was caused by a road rage incident between the defendants. The man on trial was driving a truck on Interstate 10 behind an SUV operated by the female defendant.

State police investigators believe the truck glanced off the front of the SUV while trying to pass the vehicle. The truck veered across the highway median and straight into the Acura. The car caught fire engulfing the five occupants.

Test results stated the truck driver’s blood alcohol content level was 0.10 percent at the time of the crash, exceeding the legal limit of 0.08 percent. Investigators also found alcohol in the defendant’s truck. During the opening phase of the man’s trial, the defendant’s attorney asserted prosecutors would not be able to show driver impairment caused the fiery wreck.

Prosecutors must prove impairment for a defendant to be convicted of an alcohol-related charge. Driving while intoxicated is a crime by itself but when the charge is attached to something like a fatal accident, the state also must show drunk driving was the reason for a crash. Without that proof, the prosecution’s case against a DWI defendant dissolves.

Source: Source: WAFB-TV, "Jury seated in trial for second driver charged in deadly 'road rage' crash," No author given, July 9, 2014

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