A number of early-morning commuters on I-81 heading toward Scranton had the unnerving experience of seeing an SUV driving in their lane, except that they were headed south and the other vehicle was headed north. While many drivers were able to avoid the wrong-way SUV, one unfortunate man was not.
After traveling several miles in the wrong direction, the SUV collided with a sedan driven by a man returning home from work. The driver of the sedan died at the scene. The driver of the SUV was arrested by state police on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol. Criminal charges are awaiting the results of tests that determine the man's blood alcohol content (BAC) level. If the tests show that the man's blood contained alcohol, he could be charged with offenses ranging from a misdemeanor to vehicular homicide.
The penalties for violating Pennsylvania's DUI laws depend upon a number of factors that are not known about this case. The first question is whether the accused driver was in fact intoxicated. The degree of intoxication will also affect the penalty; if the BAC is greater than 0.08, he will be deemed to have been intoxicated. A higher BAC may mean harsher penalties. The fact that the accident involved a fatality means that the man could be charged with vehicular manslaughter, which a felony and can be punished by driver's license revocation, imprisonment or a substantial fine.
The driver in this case was driving the wrong way on an interstate freeway, which many people would consider conclusive proof of guilt. Nevertheless, the driver is entitled to be presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Anyone who finds themselves facing similar charges will benefit from consulting a criminal defense attorney who specializes in defending drunk driving cases. Such a consultation can provide a helpful evaluation of the evidence, an enumeration of possible defenses and an estimate of the likelihood of obtaining a favorable plea agreement or an outright acquittal.
Source: WNEP-TV, "Wrong-Way Crash Kills Man," Stacy Lange, Oct. 15, 2015