Damico & Stockstill, Attorneys at Law

Homicide charges planned for woman whose dad died in crash

Proof leading to a conviction must satisfy all provisions of a criminal law. Weak evidence does not prove beyond a reasonable doubt a crime was committed. A Baton Rouge defendant facing criminal accusations is innocent unless the state can, point by point, tie the accused to the crime.

Louisiana police investigators suspect a young Holden woman was driving while intoxicated when she crashed a Kia Sport. The 22-year-old was injured in the single-vehicle crash on a Sunday night. Her 45-year-old father, a front seat passenger in the car, suffered fatal injuries.

State police reported the woman lost control of the car outside Hammond. The driver apparently missed a curve and drove off the right side of the road. The Kia shot down an embankment and hit a tree. The driver was wearing a seat belt, but her father was not.

The driver was hospitalized with undisclosed injuries. Toxicology tests, based on urine and blood samples, will determine whether the woman's blood alcohol level exceeded the legal limit. State police in Tangipahoa Parish plan to charge the injured driver with DWI, careless operation and vehicular homicide once the woman is discharged from the hospital.

Drivers veer off roadways for reasons other than impairment. An obstacle, weather conditions or a lack of familiarity of the road can influence circumstances. Even when alcohol or drug impairment cannot be refuted, prosecutors must show intoxication was a substantial factor in causing a crash.

A criminal defense attorney can explain how police and prosecutors go about proving that a driver's actions were affected by alcohol or drugs. Toxicology tests aren't the only source of proof. Police investigators may testify a driver appeared or acted intoxicated, but observations can be inaccurate or challenged without stronger evidence.

Facts can support or unravel the state's case. A defense attorney will challenge flimsy evidence to force prosecutors to dismiss or reduce charges.

Source: The Times-Picayune, "Woman suspected of DWI in accident near Hammond that killed her father" Kim Chatelain, Nov. 24, 2014

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