Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Relatives of Pennsylvania DUI crash victim fight plea deal

Sentencing rules include limits for minimum and maximum penalties. Pittsburgh judges consider each case individually before issuing a sentencing decision. For families of fatally injured accident victims, a maximum penalty for an at-fault driver may not seem harsh enough to justify the loss of a loved one.

A 22-year-old Eastern Pennsylvania man was charged with causing a fatal drunk driving accident in August. The driver's Jeep was speeding at up to 70 mph when the vehicle struck and killed an Easton pedestrian.

The victim's family recently blasted prosecutors for negotiating a plea deal with the alleged drunk driver's attorney. Relatives are demanding the defendant be tried, found guilty and convicted of the severest punishment possible. For DUI vehicular homicide, the maximum Pennsylvania sentence is a state prison term of 10 years.

The reported plea deal would reduce the sentence to as little as three years and no more than six years behind bars.

The driver, on parole for a 2011 aggravated assault charge, was picked up for drunk driving in late June. The pedestrian's family said the fatality occurred three days after the defendant was released from custody for the DUI charge.

The collision took place in the middle of the night. The victim's sister said her brother made the responsible decision to walk home because he was too intoxicated to drive. The defendant's speeding Jeep swerved, hit the pedestrian and rolled over multiple times.

Attorneys did not say whether a plea bargain was being negotiated ahead of the scheduled trial next month, but family members aren't waiting for confirmation. Relatives have communicated with the judge in the fatal DUI case and pressed for a jury trial, which would not guarantee a different outcome than a plea deal.

Civil courts provide a second path for justice for families claiming wrongful death. Proven DUI negligence can result in compensation for the financial losses and suffering of survivors.

Source: The Express-Times, "Family of West Easton man killed in alleged drunken-driving wreck outraged over possible plea" Tom Shortell, Jan. 17, 2014

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