A Pewaukee man was convicted last week for a 2008 drunk driving accident that resulted in one death and two injuries. The other driver was also drunk at the time. Despite a creative criminal defense which took advantage of some unique Wisconsin laws, the man was unable to successfully plead his case.
The accident occurred in August of 2008 when the defendant's car collided with the victim's car as it was pulling out of a restaurant parking lot. The defendant had the right of way and was traveling much too fast to stop in time. Because of this his attorneys argued that the accident was unavoidable and the fact that he was drunk was not relevant.
Interestingly, this is a legitimate legal defense in Wisconsin as long as attorneys can prove that the defendant was otherwise driving safely. Unfortunately for the defendant, records show that he was driving 81 mph in a 50 mph zone, and the victim was only driving 7 mph. The judge deciding the case ruled that his reckless speed forfeited his plea of an unavoidable accident.
The defendant's attorneys also noted that the other driver was also drunk at the time of the accident. In fact, with a blood alcohol level of 0.207 he was more intoxicated than the defendant. Attorneys argued that because the victim was intoxicated, he failed to yield right of way to the defendant which caused the unavoidable accident. Again, the judge cited the huge difference in vehicle speeds as evidence that the defendant was at fault for the accident.
At the time of the accident, the defendant had a blood alcohol level of 0.194. He was driving drunk despite having his license revoked. He had six previous DUI convictions on his record. He was convicted last week of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle and faces up to 25 years in prison. Despite his creative DUI Defense, his previous record likely played a role in the judge's decision to convict him.
Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel online, "Pewaukee man guilty in Brookfield drunken-driving death," Mike Johnson, 17 December 2010