Murder conviction for addict who caused motor vehicle accident

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Driver negligence is often described as carelessness, but there's an element of selfishness, too. Intoxicated and distracted drivers show little or no regard for the safety of Raleigh motorists and pedestrians around them. A defendant's failure to uphold the duty to protect others from harm is the reason juries award damages in motor vehicle accident cases.

A man, who described himself as an addict struggling with heroin addiction, made a cross-country trip to North Carolina in July 2012. Halfway through the journey, he was arrested on drug charges but was released on bail and continued on his way to Boone. It didn't take long for the man to realize his job, drug and relationship opportunities in the East weren't panning out.

The West Coast native decided to return home, and as he entered his home state, admittedly had a strong urge to purchase heroin. Prosecutors thought the driver bought and injected heroin about half an hour before he caused a pedestrian accident. The 32-year-old defendant argued he was not high but asleep when his car struck a stop sign, then a couple and four dogs at a crosswalk.

The male accident victim lost a leg in the accident and later died. The victim's girlfriend suffered a broken leg and all the dogs were killed. Authorities arrested the defendant three days after the accident on DUI and later on second-degree murder charges.

The accused driver had no heroin in his system at the time of the arrest, but tests found evidence of Xanax and marijuana use. During the recent trial, prosecutors honed in on the man's obsession with finding heroin over any consideration for safety as a way to prove implied malice. The driver was convicted.

Impairment by alcohol or drugs is strong evidence during criminal and civil trials. Juries in personal injury and wrongful death cases connect driver intoxication with a complete disregard of human life.

Source: The Sacramento Bee, " Fatal hit-and-run driver testifies, ‘I fell asleep at the wheel’" Andy Furillo, May. 07, 2014