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Man facing long prison term for drunken motor vehicle accident

On July 10, a jury in Toms River, New Jersey, found a man guilty in the 2010 vehicle death of an off-duty police officer. With less than an hour's deliberation, the jury found a 34-year-old man guilty of crashing his BMW sport-utility vehicle into the officers Jeep grand Cherokee while impaired by alcohol and cocaine.

According to court records, the defendant was drunk and high as he drove along the Garden State Parkway in Toms River on Thanksgiving Day in 2010. The now deceased Ocean Gate police officer was coming home after working overtime in his capacity as a police officer tasked with looking for drunk drivers. The collision between the two vehicles was described as sending the police officer's car spinning through a guardrail before it rolled over and burst into flames.

The victim's mother and father were in the courtroom when the verdict was read. Both parents expressed satisfaction with the decision, however the father expressed frustration at what he perceived was the defense's strategy to delay proceedings. The defense had pointed out that the prosecution could not prove that the kit used to establish the defendant' s blood alcohol concentration was not beyond its expiration date.

The prosecution countered by offering testimony that the defendant had admitted to authorities that he had imbibed about five drinks and use some cocaine prior to the accident. Additional testimony given at the trial showed that even at 5:00 a.m., which was at least two hours after the crash, the defendant's blood alcohol level was nearly double the legal limit at .155 percent.

The defendant was denied bail and taken into custody. He is also facing an additional DUI from a separate event and a drug possession charge related to a steroid called Oxandrolone. He could get anywhere from 5 to 10 years for the vehicular homicide conviction alone.

Victims of drunken motor vehicle accidents often receive catastrophic injuries from their encounters with impaired drivers. These injuries often prevent victims from working. The medical treatments are also usually very expensive. Victims of preventable accidents such as these should know that the legal system provides a remedy through civil litigation. A victim can sue the drunk driver's estate for compensation of medical expenses and lost wages. Depending on the circumstances, a victim can also be awarded other damages.

Source: The Daily Journal, "Driver convicted in DWI crash that killed NJ officer" Kathleen Hopkins, Jul. 11, 2014

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