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Appeals question depraved indifference charge in fatal DUI convictions

The NY Court of Appeals is being asked to answer the question of whether people can be so heavily intoxicated that they do not realize the danger they pose to others.
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    December 21, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- When a car accident occurs in Boston, one of the factors that law enforcement often considers is whether alcohol is involved. If a driver is found under the influence, then that driver could face a number of charges, especially if another person was injured or killed. For fatal DUI accidents, often the charges include vehicular homicide, a felony that can come with a prison sentence of up to 15 years.

State trooper faces multiple charges for alleged fatal DUI crash

This may be the situation for a Massachusetts state trooper who caused a fatal crash in September. The Boston Globe reported that the trooper was allegedly under the influence of alcohol when his vehicle collided with another car head-on in Plymouth, resulting in the deaths of two people. It is unknown how the officer was determined to be legally drunk and law enforcement actually stated that they did not think alcohol was involved when the accident first occurred.

Can a person be so drunk they don't know what they are doing?

In New York, the state's Court of Appeals is being asked to answer the question of whether people can be so heavily intoxicated that they do not realize the danger they pose to others. According to The New York Times, three people are appealing their convictions of second-degree murder over this issue.

Each of the three people who filed an appeal do not dispute that they were under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. One person was found with a blood alcohol content level of 0.28 after he hit a vehicle while driving the wrong way, causing the death of a limo driver and a young girl. Another person also was driving in the wrong lane when he hit a car, resulting in the death of a man - his BAC was 0.19. The third person was speeding at night without headlights after ingesting beer, marijuana and Ecstasy. She hit a pedestrian, killing him.

Depraved indifference

According to The Huffington Post, the appeals are over prosecutors' arguments that "they acted with depraved indifference to human life". The phrase, the appeal contends, indicates that the people acted with the knowledge that they were putting others at risk, but argues that their high levels of intoxication meant that they were not aware of what they were doing at the time. The three people were also convicted of vehicular manslaughter and other DUI charges.

If the high court does rule that the convictions should be tossed, it could have an impact on other cases where this argument is used. When someone is facing a DUI charge of any kind, they should immediately speak with an experienced attorney to discuss their options.

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