Authorities are pursuing criminal charges against a motorist who they claim was intoxicated when he caused a fatal car crash in Brooklyn.
Police state that 27-year-old Elroy Perez was intoxicated and driving at a “high rate of speed” when he crashed his 2015 Honda Civic into the side of a tractor-trailer. Upon impact, Mr. Perez’s passenger, 26-year-old Diana Lemache, suffered a serious head wound. She was later pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. The Civic was actually pinned underneath the tractor-trailer while first responders worked to extricate the victims.
Mr. Perez now faces a litany of charges, including manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter, operating a motor vehicle impaired by drugs, reckless driving, criminally negligent homicide, DWI, and speeding.
Establishing Alcohol as a Contributing Factor
Over 40 percent of fatal car crashes involve alcohol, and this figure does not include the number of serious injuries that intoxicated drivers cause in these incidents. In New York, most drivers are legally intoxicated if they have a blood alcohol content of at least .08, and so this factor is fairly easy to establish in these cases. But what if the driver had been drinking, but is not legally intoxicated?
The first observation is that the standard of proof is considerably lower in civil court than it is in criminal court. In a DUI case or similar matter, a prosecutor must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the driver was intoxicated. But, in civil court, intoxication must be established by a preponderance of the evidence, which means more likely than not. Secondly, driving impairment begins well below .08; in most cases, most drivers are impaired at .04. For many people, two or three drinks in a one or two hour period is sufficient to reach .04.
So, from a common-sense standpoint, evidence that a driver had been drinking is enough for a juror to conclude that, more likely than not, the driver was intoxicated. There is often direct evidence of intoxication as well, such as:
- Bloodshot eyes,
- Slurred speech,
- Unsteady balance, and
- Extreme emotional displays.
These items are certainly not positive indicators; for example, fatigue and allergies cause as many bloodshot eyes as alcohol. But the standard of proof is only more likely than not.
If you or a loved one was hurt or killed in a car wreck, contact the experienced Manhattan personal injury attorneys at Proner & Proner. The sooner you call, the easier it is to obtain maximum compensation.