This past year, there was a lot of attention paid to Massachusetts drunk drivers and those who drive negligently. For example, a new law was passed to prevent people from texting while driving.
There was one vehicular homicide matter, however, that may not have gotten enough attention. I say this only because it happened again.
Two cars were involved in an accident this weekend which left two cars overturned on interstate 495. Fortunately, nobody was killed.
The cause according to the Commonwealth?
One driver, Jenifer M. Scott, 43, of Milford (hereinafter, the “Defendant”) fell asleep and so lost control of her vehicle. A second driver, at 51-year-old man from Harvard, took measures to avoid the Defendant’s Toyota Corolla and, as a result, went over the guardrail and rolled down an embankment. His 56-year-old female passenger was taken to Marlborough Hospital with minor injuries.
The Commonwealth says that the Defendant will be summoned to court to face a charge of operating to endanger.
As a Boston criminal defense attorney, I have handled a wide range of motor vehicle cases from driving without a license to drunk driving to endanger to vehicular homicide.
The Commonwealth has become less and less forgiving regarding these cases. This is likely to increase given what seems to be an increase in traffic-related deaths. What has also increased prosecutions is the feeling that, when a tragedy occurs, it must be somebody’s fault. “Mere accidents” that are not criminal seldom happen.
In a way, of course, it makes sense. Driving a motor vehicle is not considered a “right”. It is a “privilege”. Further, one makes a conscious choice to get behind the wheel, whether you be tired, medicated or drunk. Therefore, the Commonwealth believes that if you feel you are likely to fall asleep because you have had very little sleep, then you should not get behind the wheel.
“But, Sam, when I am sleepy, medicated or drunk I don’t generally think very clearly.”
Yes, I see. But the law does not. Voluntary intoxication is not a defense to making that fateful decision to drive. You are expected to be thinking clearly…or keep away from the driver’s seat.
We have also discussed cases wherein folks pulled over for erratic driving further exercise their lack of judgment by trying to outsmart, or outrun, the police. This seldom works. It makes matters worse.
So, the bottom line is that you had best be thinking with crystal clarity when you decide to drive. Is it possible that you could be sleepy or drunk and yet NOT the cause of an accident that takes place? Sure. In fact, we covered one such case not so long ago. However, such cases are in the distinct minority.
What to do? You know the answer to that. If the unthinkable happens, you want to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to guide you through the process and advocate on your behalf.
If you want to discuss such a case with me, feel free to call me for a free initial consultation. I can be reached at t 617-492-3000.
To view the original story, and charming photograph about which parts of this blog were based, please go to : http://mobile.boston.com/art/30/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2011/01/30/two_car_crash_blamed_on_a_sleepy_driver/