Although a person may be driving under the influence that does not necessarily mean that the violator is responsible for a car accident that may have occurred. On Sept. 19 the Tennessee Highway Patrol arrested a 19-year-old man for drunk driving and underage consumption. They had been called to an accident at the intersection of Lafayette Road and Highway 374. The suspect was driving a Honda Civic, which struck the passenger side door of a minivan that was trying to make a left turn from Highway 374 to Lafayette Road, the police report said.
The minivan's driver and two passengers were taken to Gateway Medical Center, where one passenger was diagnosed with a broken hip and the other with a broken arm, according to reports. The police discovered the Honda driver to be allegedly under the influence and processed the charges against him. His passenger was released at the scene.
Although the press report seems to assume that the DUI suspect was also the cause of the accident, that is not always the case and the distinction must be made in order to defend the suspect properly. In fact, the minivan driver appears to have made a left turn directly in front of the Honda, which would more accurately place blame for the accident itself on the shoulders of the minivan driver. A person's drunk driving must be kept separate from the causation issue involving the accident because it would be incorrect to hold the DUI suspect legally responsible for an accident that was caused by the other driver.
That is why the Tennessee Highway Patrol report rightly indicates that the minivan driver might be considered for charges. Furthermore, that is also apparently why the THP rightly did not charge the DUI suspect with enhanced charges for causing the accident. Instead, THP charged the young man with simple drunk driving. This distinction may be important at trial, or if the man pleads guilty and is brought before the court for sentencing. At sentencing, counsel must make the court understand that the defendant is not to be punished additionally for an auto accident he did not cause.
Source: The Leaf-Chronicle, 3-car accident Thursday morning leads to injuries, DUI charge against Clarksville teen, Lester Black, Sept. 19, 2013