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Update: Drunk driving case goes to trial in Louisiana

There was a recent follow-up to the story that was first reported here on Jan. 22 ("Louisiana boy killed by neighbor in car accident"). It refers to the death of a 6-year-old boy who not only fell off of his scooter, but was also run over by his next door neighbor who was allegedly drunk driving at the time. The boy was crushed by the neighbor's pickup truck on Sept. 24, 2012. Now that the case has gone to trial, the question becomes if the driver is guilty of a DUI-related negligent homicide in the death of the boy or was the accident simply unavoidable.

The case seems to hinge on the fact that the driver claims that he could not see the boy. However, according to witness testimony, the driver was reportedly drunk at the time of the horrible accident. This update is regarding a crucial fact that may help the family secure an award in civil court if prosecutors can prove the driver was intoxicated, and therefore, guilty of negligent homicide.

According to expert testimony by the director of the North Louisiana Crime Lab, the neighbor's blood alcohol concentration was 0.054 while the legal limit is 0.08; however, this Breathalyzer test was administered two-and-a-half hours after the accident. This could mean the man likely had a BAC between .09 and 0.12 when he struck the boy, which would have made the driver seriously impaired at the time. It is commonly known that Breathalyzer tests generally produce lower readings than blood alcohol concentration tests, even if performed together.

The Louisiana prosecution must prove that the driver was indeed drunk driving at the time of the accident as part of their case. Further, that evidence may be crucial for the family of the deceased boy to use in a wrongful death claim against the neighbor for the death of their son. If negligence is proved in a civil case, the court may award the family damages such as pain and suffering and other damages allowed by law.

Source: nola.com, Denham Springs man was over the legal limit when he fatally struck child neighbor, expert witness says, Emily Lane, Feb. 25, 2014

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