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Trial set to begin for driver in fatal New Year's Eve crash

A deadly crash that occurred on New Year's Eve 2011 will be examined during a trial set to begin in June. According to reports, alcohol was involved and a 55-year-old man has been accused of causing the drunk driving accident. The trial will include a jury and if they find the man guilty, he will face a mandatory minimum sentence of three years per fatality. Two people died in the crash.

The accident occurred near Reamstown, Pennsylvania. A 35-year-old woman and a 31-year-old man were killed when a vehicle belonging to the 55-year-old slammed into an SUV owned by the 31-year-old. Police said that when it became apparent the accident was not avoidable, the 55-year-old did not slow down but instead sped up, colliding with the SUV at approximately 86 mph. The impact not only killed the two occupants of the SUV, it also seriously injured the accused man and his passenger. The female passenger was in a hospital for more than month with several broken bones and fractures. She later testified she and the driver had been drinking before the crash.

According to reports, the man's blood alcohol content was more than two times the legal limit in Pennsylvania. He was charged with homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence. The assistant district attorney wants the jury to know of the man's previous run-ins with the law, particularly those involving previous DUI allegations. According to records, the man was convicted of DUI in California in 1993 and driving under the influence in Ohio in 2006. He was also involved in a 50-mile police chase that ended with charges of driving under the influence and smoking crack cocaine.

If a judge allows the man's history to be included in the trial, it may be a cut-and-dry case. In addition to a conviction, the loved ones of the deceased in this crash may have a claim of wrongful death against the driver, as well as claims for other damages. Anyone in a similar situation is encouraged to speak to a lawyer about their potential civil case.

Source:  lancasteronline.com, "Court asked to include DUI-defendant's record" Brett Hambright, May. 26, 2013

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Gregory R. Gifford
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