When someone is injured in any kind of accident in New York, the severity of injuries sustained is not dependent on whether or not the individual recovers. Furthermore, changes to an accident victim’s way of life must be taken into consideration when holding the guilty party responsible for personal injuries. One judge may have taken both of the above factors into consideration when she made a sentencing ruling that accounted for the life-threatening injuries sustained by the DUI accident victim.
The victim in the 2012 single-vehicle drunk driving incident was riding in a car with his friend when their vehicle reportedly crashed into a traffic light post after passing onto the sidewalk and striking a utility pole. The passenger in the car sustained a spinal cord injury and was paralyzed. Authorities determined that the friend driving the vehicle had a blood alcohol level of almost twice the legal limit.
During the sentencing hearing for the driver in the DUI case, the defendant claimed that the victim himself had a history of DUI offenses and was unfit to drive prior to the incident. However, the now disabled accident victim contended that he could have driven.
While the assistant district attorney involved in prosecuting the case encouraged the defendant to recognize the difficulties of the victim and acknowledge that the incident could have resulted in loss of life, the judge ruling on the sentencing hearing went one step further. She recognized the fact that spinal cord injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accidents can and do result in death, and that the victim in this case only survived because of medical intervention. Consequently, she issued a sentence appropriate for drunk-driving-related deaths.
The defendant was found guilty of DUI aggravated assault and is sentenced to serve at least three years in prison.
Source: lehighvalleylive.com, “Judge to drunken driver: ‘You did take his life – it was his doctors that saved him’,” Sarah Cassi, Jan. 7, 2014