Fatal Massachusetts DUI accidents demonstrate penalties for drunk driving

Two Massachusetts drunk driving accidents earlier this year show the potentially severe penalties awaiting those convicted of driving under the influence in the state. These penalties increase dramatically when a driver, passenger or pedestrian is injured or killed in an accident involving intoxication. A recent example involved Jay Franklin, of Upton, Massachusetts, who was driving in Westfield when he was involved in an accident while driving with three passengers. The crash occurred early on Friday just before 1:00am when Franklin hit a tree stump and his car overturned. One teen was killed, a local high school student who has since been graduated posthumously. Two other passengers in the car were injured in the crash but have since recovered.

Franklin pled not guilty to three charges stemming from the incident: motor vehicle homicide by negligent operation, operating under the influence of liquor and manslaughter by a motor vehicle.

Another recent accident occurred in Worcester. Adam A. Bard was hospitalized following a crash on Oct. 24 at an intersection. Police at the scene believed that Bard sped through the intersection when it struck a pickup truck. The pickup truck flipped onto its side, while Bard’s Audi smashed into a nearby building. The pickup truck driver was killed and Bard was rushed to the hospital. Bard is facing numerous charges, including manslaughter by a motor vehicle. Bard had recently recovered his license after a one-year suspension of operating under the influence.

The devastating nature of a severe accident involving drugs or alcohol have consequences for all parties that will last years. Besides the obvious horror of being in such an accident, if prosecutors can prove that a driver negligently operated a motor vehicle on a public roadway and caused the death of someone else, he or she may be guilty of motor vehicle homicide by negligent operation, which is classified as a misdemeanor. This calls for at least a 30-day minimum sentence and a maximum of two-and-a-half years.

Felony charges can also result from causing the death of another person while driving drunk. In order to prove felony charges, the driver must have been reckless, not just negligent. However, conviction for this charge carries a much stiffer penalty, with a mandatory sentence of two-and-a-half years in jail, and up to 15 years.

Both convictions also result in steep license suspensions. A felony motor vehicle homicide may mean a license suspension of 15 years.

Because the potential sentencing that results from a tragedy such as motor vehicle homicide, it is absolutely necessary the accused to seek the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect his or her rights.