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Potential Penalties for Local Fatal DWI Defendant

In the wake of a tragic traffic accident on the Northway that left two teens dead, questions have been raised as to what charges could be levied against the driver that caused the accident.

According the Times Union, quoting the New York State Police, 22 year old Dennis Drue caused the accident when he made unsafe lane changes at a high rate of speed, then rear ended the Ford Explorer driven by one of the teens, causing it to careen out of control.

According to Police, Drue failed an alcohol screening test at the scene, and his blood was later drawn to determine whether his blood alcohol content (BAC) was above the legal limit of .08 of 1%. If so, he could face charges of vehicular manslaughter in the first degree, a "C" felony. In some fatal DWI cases, the driver could also face charges of Aggravated Vehicular Homicide, a class "B" felony.

To prove a violation of Vehicular Manslaughter in the First Degree (Penal Law 125.13) against Drue, prosecutors must show that he operated a vehicle with a BAC in violation of New York's misdemeanor DWI laws, and caused the death of more than one person. This charge carries a maximum 15-year sentence for a first-time felony offender.

To convict a defendant on the charge of Aggravated Vehicular Homicide (Penal Law 125.14), a class "B" felony, the prosecution would, in addition to the factors above, need to prove that the driver engaged in reckless driving, which is defined as "...driving in a manner which unreasonably interferes with the free and proper use of the public highway, or unreasonably endangers users of the public highway." (Vehicle and Traffic Law 1212). An Aggravated Vehicular Homicide charge carries a sentence of up to 25 years.

The details of this case are still emerging, and the entire team at Dreyer Boyajian LLP sends thoughts and prayers to the Shenendehowa and Shaker High communities.

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