Drunk Drivers - Articles

Former Deputy Faces Wrongful Death Lawsuit

February 19, 2015

A wrongful death lawsuit was filed against a former sheriff's deputy, his wife and two minors Wednesday in Alabama.

The lawsuit, filed by Jason Tingle on behalf of the estate of Christopher Webster, alleges that David and Rebecca Hubbard gave alcohol to two underage females, one of whom drove the vehicle that fatally hit Webster in a wreck. Both the Hubbards and the females are named in the lawsuit.

As more victims came forward during the investigation, more charges were pressed against the Hubbards, who were associated with the Chilton County Board of Education at the time of their relationship with the two females.

David and Rebecca Hubbard face charges of facilitating the travel of a child for an unlawful sex act, school employee engaging in a sex act with a student under 19, second-degree rape, second-degree sodomy, enticing a child for immoral purposes, school employee having sexual conduct with a student under 19 and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

The lawsuit accuses the driver of “negligently or wantonly” operating a motor vehicle and not yielding the right-of-way to Webster's vehicle, causing the fatal collision. The other female is accused of allowing the driver to operate the vehicle while intoxicated.


Families of Two Victims Killed in Drunk Driving 'Affluenza' Case Reach Settlements

March 19, 2014

The families of two victims killed by a teen drunk driver last year in Texas have reached a settlement with the driver's family.

In the highly-publicized case, the teen's attorney claimed he wasn't responsible for his actions because he suffered from "affluenza," a condition caused by his wealthy upbringing. The teen's blood alcohol content was three times the legal limit for adults at the time of the crash.

The families sued for compensation in civil court after the criminal court judge sentenced the teen to only 10 years' probation and psychiatric therapy for killing four people and injuring two others.

The amount of the settlements were not disclosed, and the teen driver's family still faces a civil lawsuit filed by the family of another teenager killed in the crash and suits filed by the two people injured in the crash.

"Affluenza" is not recognized as a medical condition by the American Psychiatric Association.


Lawsuits Name 86 Members of Yale Fraternity as Defendants

January 15, 2014

Eighty-six members of a Yale University fraternity, as well as the fraternity itself and the Ivy League school, have been named as defendants in two lawsuits involving a fatal crash in a tailgating area outside the school's football stadium.

The suits were filed by Sarah Short and the family of Nancy Barry. Short was injured and Barry was killed when 23-year-old Brendan Ross, a former Yale student and member of the fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon, crashed in the parking lot outside the Yale-Harvard football game in November 2011.

The U-Haul truck had been rented by fraternity members to haul kegs of beer to the game to be consumed in the tailgating area of the parking lot before kickoff.

Ross, along with 85 other current and former members of the fraternity chapter, Yale University, Sigma Phi Epsilon's national organization, the security company that staffed the event, U-Haul and the city of New Haven, Connecticut, have all been named as defendants in the lawsuits.

The two lawsuits are seeking millions of dollars in damages.


Sixth Lawsuit Filed Over Deadly DUI Crash in Texas

January 02, 2014

A sixth lawsuit has been filed in connection with a deadly drunk driving accident in Burleson, Texas, that killed four people in June.

The latest lawsuit was filed by the parents of Isaiah McLaughlin, a teenager injured in the accident, against Ethan Crouch, the 16-year-old intoxicated driver responsible for causing the crash, according to court records.

McLaughlin was one of seven teenage passengers in a pickup truck driven by Crouch, when it struck a stranded motorist's vehicle, killing the motorist as well as a minister and two pedestrians who had stopped to provide assistance.

The truck Crouch was driving was owned by his parents' company, Cleburne Metal Works. Crouch, his parents and their company are all named as defendants in the lawsuit.

Crouch was sentenced in county juvenile court to 10 years probation and mandatory therapy after he admitted responsibility to four counts of intoxication manslaughter and two counts of intoxication assault.

A psychologist testified at trial that Crouch was a victim of "affluenza," a term used to describe his irresponsible and reckless conduct brought on by a lifetime of extreme wealth.


Fraternity Reaches Settlement with Family of Yale Student Killed in Crash

September 25, 2013

A settlement has been reached between Delta Kappa Epsilon and the family of a Yale student who was killed in a car crash on his drive home from a fraternity event.

The fraternity settled the lawsuit, which was filed by the family of Nicholas Grass of Holyoke, Massachusetts. According to court documents, the SUV Grass's friend was driving struck a semi truck that had skidded over the median on Interstate 95 in Bridgeport, Connecticut, in January 2003, killing Grass and two of his classmates and injuring five other students.

The Grass family claimed that DKE failed to ensure fraternity members would have safe transportation to and from the event, which was held in New York City. They also claimed that the driver of the SUV, also a fraternity member, was sleep deprived due to hazing events during DKE's "Hell Week."

Grass was a star pitcher for the Yale baseball team.

The terms of the settlement, which was approved by a judge on September 5, have not been released.


Man Sues Police for Sober DUI Arrest

June 11, 2013

A man in Arizona who was arrested and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol even after a breathalyzer test indicated that he was sober has filed a lawsuit claiming a violation of his civil rights.

The suit was filed by 64-year-old Jessie Thornton against the Surprise Police Department. Thornton, who is seeking $500,000, claims his traffic stop and arrest constitutes racial profiling.

Thornton was arrested for DUI during a traffic stop in December. Police officers pulled him over for crossing a white traffic line while driving, and after noting that his eyes were bloodshot, insisted that he submit to field sobriety tests and a breathalyzer test.

The breathalyzer was negative for the presence of alcohol in Thornton's system, but the officers arrested him anyway. Thornton claims he was arrested because he is black.

Thornton claims that the DUI arrest is the latest of several instances of alleged harrassment by Surprise police over the past four years.

According to the lawsuit, the arrest has caused permanent damage to Thornton's reputation because the DUI charge, which was later dropped, still remains on his record.


NTSB Considers Urging States to Lower Drunk Driving BAC Limit

May 14, 2013

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has announced that it is considering urging states to lower their drunk driving blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limits to .05 percent.

The new BAC limit would contstitute a .03 percent reduction from the .08 limit currently in place in all 50 states.

NTSB officials noted that .05 percent is the legal limit in most countries in the developed world.

Although the NTSB is not authorized to force states to instate the stricter limit, the agency's input has considerable sway with state legislators.

All 50 states adopted 0.08 percent as their official drunk driving limit in 2000 after a bill signed into law by President Bill Clinton withheld federal transportation funds from any state that refused to lower its BAC limit.


2 Dead, 2 Injured in Repeat-Offender DUI Crash

March 27, 2013

Two family members were killed and their daughter-in-law and grandchild are clinging to life after being struck by a suspected repeat-offender drunk driver on Monday.

Dennis and Judy Schulte were struck while crossing a street in Seattle, along with their 33-year-old daughter-in-law, Karina Ulriksen-Schulte, and her 12-day-old son, Elias. The couple was killed in the incident, and daughter Karina and her son Elias are in critical condition.

The driver sped through the intersection, striking the family with his pick-up truck, which he was allegedly driving on a suspended license.

According to police reports, the driver had a blood alcohol level of .22 - nearly three times the legal limit of .08 - at the time of the incident.

The driver has been arrested for drunk driving several times in the past. He is currently being held on a $2.5 million bond.


Charges Filed Against Teen in Fatal DUI Crash

September 06, 2012

A teenage girl in suburban Chicago was charged with driving under the influence after a crash that caused the death of a 5-year-old girl, according to police reports.

The charges were filed against Carly A. Rousso, 18, of Highland Park, for hitting a family walking along a sidewalk on Labor Day.

The crash killed Jaclyn Santos-Sacramento, 5, and injured the girl's mother and two younger brothers.

Rousso was arrested and charged with misdemeanor driving under the influence of alcohol, but may face more serious charges pending the results of a blood test.

Residents of Highland Park have raised over $43,000 to help Jaclyn's family pay for medical and funeral costs.

Jaclyn's mother remains in the hospital in fair condition, but her brothers, ages 2 and 4, were treated and released.


Chicago Settles Final Suit Over Aggressive DUI Arrests

August 22, 2012

The City of Chicago announced this week that it has agreed to a settlement in a suit brought by a man falsely charged of DUI, the last of several lawsuits related to a former police officer's aggressive DUI arrests.

More than 130 DUI arrests made by officer Richard Fiorito have resulted in dismissal after allegations by a number of people that Fiorito was arresting drivers who were not in fact above the legal BAC limit.

Several lawsuits were filed against the city and the officer, charging 63-year-old Fiorito, who resigned in December, with false arrest and malicious prosecution.

The city has awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars to plaintiffs in the lawsuits, but never admitted that Fiorito was responsible for any wrongdoing.

Claims that Fiorito was arresting drivers who weren't drunk began cropping up in 2003, according to one plaintiff's attorney.

Fiorito was never prosecuted in connection with the allegations.


Wrongful Death Suit Targets 'Jackass' Star's Estate

August 09, 2012

The estate of "Jackass" star Ryan Dunn is being sued by the parents of an Iraq War veteran who was killed in a Philadelphia car crash.

George and Arma Hartwell of Melbourne, Florida, filed the lawsuit in a Philadelphia court seeking damages from Dunn's estate and Barnaby's West Chester Inc., the owner of the bar where Dunn had been drinking in the hours before the crash.

Dunn, 34, and Zachary Hartwell, 30, were killed in the June 20 crash when Dunn's Porsche 911 GT3 careened off the roadway, struck a tree and burst into flames. According to crash Investigators, Dunn's vehicle was traveling at about 100 mph - 45 mph over the posted speed limit.

According to witness statements, Dunn had been seen drinking heavily at Barnaby's on the day of the crash, and the establishment continued to serve him although he was visibly intoxicated.

Dunn had been charged with DUI in 2005, but the charge was eventually dismissed.

Dunn was one of the stars of the reality television series "Jackass."


Four Killed, One Injured in Chicago Drunk Driving Crash

February 09, 2012

Four people were killed and one person was injured in a Chicago auto accident after an erratic driver crashed into another car following a night of drinking, authorities said.

According to police reports, the accident occurred after four friends, who went bar hopping after watching the Super Bowl, attempted to drive home.

The driver allegedly began driving erratically, attempting to pull a U-turn on the freeway before colliding head-on with another vehicle.

The driver and two passengers in the vehicle were killed upon impact, as was the driver of the other car involved in the accident. Another passenger suffered a broken arm and broken finger in crash.


Wrong Way Crash Injures Two

February 03, 2012

An SUV going the wrong way on an interstate in Chicago traveled nearly 5 miles before hitting another car head-on, police said.

The incident occurred in the outbound lanes of Interstate 55 at about 3:00 a.m. Friday morning, when the 23-year-old driver of the SUV entered the expressway and drove for 5 miles before crashing into another vehicle while traveling the wrong way on the ramp that connects the interstate with Lake Shore Drive.

Both drivers were transported to local hospitals for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries, police said.

Police believe alcohol was a factor in the crash.


Drunk Driver Sues Deceased Victim

January 17, 2012

A man who pleaded guilty to three counts of DUI manslaughter in Florida has filed a lawsuit against the now deceased driver of the other vehicle involved in the crash, court documents show.

David Belniak entered a guilty plea to criminal charges over an accident on Christmas Day in 2007, in which he crashed his pickup truck into the back of another vehicle, killing 66-year-old Linda McWilliams, her 50-year-old daughter, Denise Bassi, and her 51-year-old son-in-law, Gerard Bassi.

Belniak, who was sentenced to 12 years in prison over the deaths, has filed suit against McWilliams' husband, Ray McWilliams - the driver of the other vehicle - claiming the now deceased accident victim was at fault for causing the crash. Ray McWilliams survived the crash, but died last March.

The police report showed that Belniak was speeding, driving at anywhere from 75 to 85 mph when his truck slammed into the back of McWilliams' Chevrolet Tahoe, which was stopped at a red light. Testing of Belniak's blood revealed the presence of alcohol, Xanax and trace amounts of cocaine in his system.

Belniak is seeking compensation for his the medical bills, pain and suffering, mental anguish and diminished capacity to enjoy life after the crash.


Five Dead in Detroit Wrong-Way Crash

October 24, 2011

Five people are dead after a head-on collision between a car and a sport utility vehicle near the Detroit suburb of Southfield early Sunday morning, police said.

The accident, which occurred at around 4:15 a.m. on the Lodge freeway, caused both vehicles involved in the crash to burst into flames, killing four people in the SUV and the driver of the other vehicle.

According to police, the car was heading southbound in a northbound lane of the freeway, which had to be shut down for more than five hours after the accident.

Police are investigating whether alcohol was a factor in the crash.


Mother Sues Police Over Teen's Breathalyzer Test

September 22, 2011

A Michigan woman whose teenage son was forced to submit to a breathalyzer test without a warrant in Livonia, Michigan, has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the police department.

The suit was filed on Tuesday by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Tina Barbee and her son, identified only as A.B. in court documents.

A.B. and two other boys were administered breathalyzer tests in June while attending a picnic to celebrate their graduation from middle school.

All three boys tested negative for alcohol.

Police violated judge's ruling that minors cannot be tested for alcohol without a warrant unless they were operating a vehicle.


Alleged Drunk Driver Kills 5 in NY Crash

July 20, 2011

An alleged drunk driver killed five Amish farmers and injured 10 other people in a three-vehicle crash near New York's Finger Lakes region.

According to sheriffs' deputies, 42-year-old Steven Eldridge tried to pass a tractor near Benton, N.Y., when his car collided head-on with a van containing 13 Amish farmers on an excursion to learn about new farming technologies.

Police charged Eldridge with driving while intoxicated and five counts of criminally negligent homicide.

The farmers who were killed have been identified as Melvin Hershberger, 42; Sarah Miller, 47; Melvin Hostetler, 40; Anna Mary Byler, 60, and Elizabeth Mast, 46.

Eldridge was not injured in the crash, according to deputies at the scene.

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