Most people are aware of dram shop laws and social host laws which allow those who provide alcohol to intoxicated persons or to minors to be held liable in a civil lawsuit if an accident or injury occurs as a result. For example, if a restaurant or bar continues to serve alcohol to a person who is intoxicated, and that person then leaves and causes a DUI accident on the way home, the establishment may be sued and is likely to have to pay a settlement or judgement to compensate anyone injured or the family of anyone killed in the accident. If parents allow minors to drink at their home, and an impaired teen causes an accident, the parents may be held civilly liable.
However, in some cases, the person who provides alcohol to the minor or the intoxicated person may be held criminally liable as well.
Last week, two teens were charged with criminal misdemeanors for failing to stop a friend from driving drunk. The friend, 17-year-old Jane Modlesky, was killed in an accident on her way home.
In the case, Modlesky and four boys were headed home in an SUV. One teen boy was driving, and the other four teens were passengers. Two boys were dropped off, and the remaining three continued to another house where the driver and another male passenger got out of the vehicle. Modlesky then got behind the wheel, and she drove only half a mile before crashing into a tree, dying in the accident.
Prosecutors say the two boys knew that Modlesky, who was determined to have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.27, was too drunk to drive, and that they had a duty to prevent her from driving. The boys have been charged separately with crimes including second degree reckless endangerment, operating a motor vehicle between 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m., and passenger restrictions violation.
While it is unusual for a person to be criminally charged in a DUI accident in which he or she was not the driver, it is not impossible.
In Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma, a McCloud man was charged with second degree murder for furnishing alcohol to minors who were then involved in a fatal DUI accident that killed one of the boys. John M. Halford, Jr., was charged with second degree murder and furnishing alcoholic beverage to a person under 21. His defense attorneys argued that it was preposterous for Halford to be charged with murder when the intoxicated driver himself was charged with the lesser offense of manslaughter.
In that case, Halford initially pleaded not guilty, but eventually pleaded guilty to furnishing alcohol to a minor, and his murder case was dismissed. According to court records, he is serving a 5 year suspended sentence for the lesser offense.
If far-reaching prosecutors criminally charge you for someone else’s actions, you have a number of options for successfully fighting the charge. With wise legal counsel and experienced defense, you can obtain a winning outcome to your case. Do not delay in getting the legal representation you need for a positive resolution. Click here for more information.