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How far might prosecutors go in a DUI case involving a death?

Instances of drunk driving that result in the deaths don't sit well with the general public. The response of duly elected officials to such situations has been to pass laws that can carry escalated penalties if convictions are obtained.

Here in Tennessee, a person charged with driving under the influence that leads to a vehicular homicide faces a Class B Felony count. In addition to all the other consequences that tend to be associated with a DUI conviction, a person found guilty of having caused a death while under the influence of alcohol or drugs could face up to 30 years in prison.

With all that is at stake, it is always important to present a strong defense for the sake of protecting one's rights. But it becomes even more critical to have the help of a skilled and knowledgeable attorney if the accusations leveled suggest the prosecution is being overzealous.

This is the claim that the attorney for a man in New York is attempting to make. His client is charged with vehicular homicide  in connection with the 2012 death of a police officer who was struck and killed while responding to an accident.

The defendant wasn't in the vehicle that hit the officer. In fact, he wasn't in a vehicle at all. Rather, reports state that he was leaning against a guardrail in the aftermath of the initial accident. Another vehicle that came along a few minutes later killed the officer.

Prosecutors say the felony charge against the defendant is justified because he allegedly was legally drunk when he was involved in the first accident. Because of that, he should have reasonably foreseen that his conduct might create all the conditions that led to the officer's death. And because a state appeals court agreed with that claim, the man is headed to court.

Legal observers note that it is very rare for someone who wasn't driving to be charged with vehicular death. Still, it does happen as this case shows and the outcome now appears destined to be determined by a trial.

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