An accident on March 9, 2014, took the life of a 41-year-old man. The other driver, a 31-year-old man, was arrested for drunk driving. It was later determined that his blood alcohol level at the time of the accident was .221. He recently pleaded guilty in a Pennsylvania court to crimes in connection with the victim’s death.
The maximum sentence he could receive for the three cases of driving under the influence that he pleaded guilty to is 33.5 years in prison and fines in the amount of $90,280. The Pennsylvania prosecutor and the driver’s criminal defense counsel agreed to a prison sentence ranging between five and 10 years with five years of probation upon his release. However, the judge presiding over the case is not sure that he will accept the plea agreement and ordered a pre-sentence report before making his decision.
During the hearing, the judge likened people convicted of multiple instances of drunk driving to terrorists, because they risk the lives of everyone by driving drunk. In April 2013 and May 2013, the man in this case had faced charges of driving under the influence. It is not known whether he was convicted in those two instances.
It is possible that the judge will reject the plea agreement on the current drunk driving charges. Depending on what the judge decides, his criminal defense counsel and the prosecution may attempt to renegotiate his plea deal and possibly continue preparing for trial, but that may not be the end of the matter. Judges do have the right to reject plea agreements, but if their own personal biases interfere with their professional responsibilities, that may be cause for appeal. The decision of the trial court judge is not always the end of the case. It is the responsibility of a criminal defense counsel to vigorously defend his or her client, and in some cases, that means being prepared for every possible scenario.
Source: post-gazette.com, “Homestead man pleads guilty in fatal DUI crash“, Lexi Belculfine, Jan. 12, 2015