Ralph A. Schwartz, P.C.

Was Las Vegas death the result of a drunk driving accident?

A December trial has been scheduled for a Las Vegas woman on felony drunk driving accusations. The 26-year-old recently pleaded not guilty to the criminal charges stemming from a March accident. The collision resulted in the death of a 33-year-old man and injuries to his son. Prosecutors have termed the tragedy a drunk driving accident. They have alleged that the accused woman's BAC was more than double the legal limit in Nevada, and that she also had in excess of five times the legal limit in her blood for marijuana.

While the prosecution's assertions are clearly serious, it also appears that there is a divergence of opinion concerning the underlying facts of the car accident. Investigators have conceded the woman was not speeding at the time of the accident, though authorities have accused her of traveling through a red light. However, a witness has apparently come forward and said the traffic light was yellow, having just turn from red as the woman entered the intersection.

The deceased victim was making a right turn on a red light at the intersection. Consequently, though it has been documented that the accused woman attempted to brake her SUV, it struck the driver's side of the victim's compact car. Fortunately, the child -- said to have been restrained in a car seat -- escaped the tragic accident with only minor physical injuries. The accused woman reportedly acknowledged ingesting two beers while working during the overnight shift at the club and had also taken a Xanax the previous evening.

As this drunk driving accident case moves forward through the Nevada criminal justice system, the difference in assertions about exactly what occurred to cause the crash may play an important role. At last report, the woman remained in jail in lieu of $200,000 bail. If convicted, she faces as many as 20 years in prison for each count pending against her. In addition to ensuring that all of her legal rights are carefully protected, she will surely want to prepare a defense that casts doubt on the accusations of prosecutors about exactly how the tragedy unfolded. In doing so, she will also likely have the opportunity -- should she choose to do so -- to discuss a plea agreement with the government, designed to limit her sentencing exposure in the event a criminal conviction is ultimately obtained.

Source: mysanantonio.com, "Dancer pleads not guilty in Vegas fatal DUI case," Ken Ritter, June 24, 2013

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