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Drunk Driving Fatality Case Not Concerned with ‘Intent’

A lack of criminal intent will not keep a serial DWI offender from serving more than three years in state prison for a drunk driving accident that killed a Passaic resident, a Superior Court in Paterson decided last week.

Leighton Alarcon, 25, was sentenced to four years in prison last Friday after pleading guilty to vehic­ular homicide and assault by auto in a head-on collision with Carlos Reyes’ vehicle on Route 46 in Clifton on Dec. 9, 2007. Alarcon’s blood-alcohol level was twice that of the legal limit at the time of the wreck, according to The Record of Bergen. Because a passenger in Reyes’ car was injured, Alarcon also received a concurrent sentence of four years.

He must serve 85 percent of the prison term, or a bit less than three and a half years, before becoming eligible for parole, according to The Record.

In the years since the fatal accident, Alarcon was arrested twice more for DWI, the newspaper said. The paper quoted Passaic County Senior Assistant Prosecutor Sumana Mitra as telling the court that there was no criminal intent on Alarcon’s part.

But as the court demonstrated, lack of criminal intent in a drunk driving accident carries little weight in mitigating what is indeed a criminal act, by which we mean, driving drunk.

In addition to evidence in criminal charges, the act of getting behind the wheel after having had too much to drink can be considered an act of negligence or recklessness in a civil action, such as a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. Some would argue that multiple DWI arrests were further evidence of recklessness as opposed to a drunk driving wreck being an accident.

As many have said, drunk driving is no accident.

About Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C.

Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C., has been helping individuals injured in auto accidents caused by drunk drivers since 1981. When a drunk driving accident has caused a fatality, our lawyers undertake wrongful death suits on behalf of surviving family and of the estate of the deceased. We have recovered more than $350 million in verdicts and settlements for our clients in a variety of personal injury and wrongful death cases.

Call our New York or New Jersey office at (800) LAW-2000 or fill out our convenient online contact form for a free case evaluation. We do not charge attorney fees unless we are successful in your case.