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Jury acquits mother of homicide by vehicle

A Montgomery County jury has acquitted a woman from Lower Merion of the felony charge of homicide by vehicle. The case involves a number of criminal allegations that demonstrate the variety of criminal charges that can be spawned by a single accident that involves allegations of driving under the influence of alcohol.

The accident occurred at about 10:30 a.m. on August 6, 2013. The driver of the other vehicle was killed. The defendant was found to have a blood alcohol content ("BAC") above the legal limit, and she was charged with homicide by vehicle, two counts of driving under the influence of alcohol and reckless endangerment of her two-year-old child and the driver of the other car.

The jury did not give any reasons for its verdict of acquittal on the most serious charge, a verdict that saved the defendant a mandatory three-year prison term. However, the jury convicted the woman on both counts of DUI, driving under the combined influence of drugs and alcohol, driving with a BAC above 0.08% and reckless endangerment of her child and the other driver. After the jury returned its verdicts, the judge convicted the woman of reckless and careless driving, driving at an unsafe speed, and failure to obey a stop sign. The jury deadlocked and was unable to reach a verdict on the general criminal charge of homicide by vehicle, a crime that does not involve the use of alcohol.

This case demonstrates the complexity of the criminal law as it concerns drunk driving and the seriousness of the consequences. Here, a single accident generated at least eight separate criminal drunk driving charges that required a jury plus at least four crimes that were presented to the judge alone. Any person who is involved in and who may be at fault for a fatal automobile accident would be well-served by consulting an attorney with experience in handling such cases. A knowledgeable criminal defense attorney will be able to review the facts and provide a competent defense, such as the one that prevailed in this case.

Source: Pottstown Mercury, "Main Line mom acquitted of homicide by vehicle while DUI," Carl Hessler Jr., March 5, 2015

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