Most residents of Lackawanna County understand the truism that, when a driver somehow manages to drive the wrong way on an interstate or other limited access roadway, the result is often tragic, both for the driver and others. Many people do not realize, however, that such an incident can also result in very serious criminal charges for the wrong-way driver. A recent accident on I-81 provides dramatic evidence of how such charges arise.
Last week, a 28-year old man driving a Lincoln MKZ traveled north for more than seven miles against traffic in the southbound lane of I-81. Several attempts by passing motorists to gain the driver's attention failed, and he ultimately collided with a Honda Accord. Three people in the Accord and a passenger in the Lincoln were ruled dead at the scene. Two other passengers in the Honda were hospitalized in critical condition. A state trooper said that the driver of the Lincoln appeared "bewildered" at the scene and smelled of alcohol. The trooper said that the man admitted that he had been drinking.
The driver was hospitalized but was arraigned in his hospital room the next day. He was charged with three counts of homicide by vehicle; the fourth death did not occur until after the criminal complaint was signed, and it will most likely be amended to add a fourth charge of vehicular homicide. If toxicology analyses show that the defendant was intoxicated, he will most likely be charged with one or more drunk driving crimes. He is still hospitalized but was placed in custody subject to bail of $500,000.
The suspect in this case faces a number of very serious criminal charges, but like all defendants, he is entitled to be presumed innocent unless and until he is found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Anyone in similar circumstances may wish to seek the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney. A knowledgeable lawyer can analyze the facts, sort through the evidence and the various criminal charges, suggest potential defense strategies and provide an estimate of the likelihood of obtaining a favorable plea agreement or outright acquittal.
Source: Citizens Voice, "Man charged with homicide by vehicle for deadly wreck," Joseph Kohut, Jan. 26, 2016