Alcohol is a contributing factor in about one third of car accidents, but you can get criminal charges for DWI even if you do not cause an accident. Whether or not you cause an accident, a third drunk driving conviction in Louisiana is a felony, and the punishment is a jail sentence of one to five years. You cannot be convicted of DWI unless the prosecution can convince the jury beyond a reasonable doubt that you were driving drunk and that the police were not violating your rights by arresting you or conducting a traffic stop. Meanwhile, if you were injured by a drunk driver, you have the right to seek damages in a civil lawsuit even if the at-fault driver did not get convicted of DWI. To find out more about how people harmed by drunk drivers can seek justice, contact a Houma car accident lawyer.
When is DWI a Violent Crime?
Wendell Lachney got arrested for DWI for the first time in St. John’s Parish in 1990, when he was about 27 years old. Lachney pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced to 10 days in jail. He did not actually serve any time in jail, because, as part of his plea deal, he was able to avoid incarceration by completing driving school, community service, and a substance abuse program. In 1994, Lachney got another drunk driving conviction, this time in Washington state. The WGNO news website did not indicate what his sentence was for that conviction.
On October 22, 2021, Lachney was driving at least 65 miles per hour in a 45 mph zone, when his car rear ended a minivan, causing it to collide with the car in front of it. His blood alcohol content (BAC) was 0.22 more than three times the legal limit, and a search of his car yielded a bottle of whiskey, a bottle of wine, a cup of beer, and two ounces of cannabis. Several people suffered injuries in the accident, and one of them, Abigail Davis, died of her injuries on October 24. She was 9 years old.
After Davis’ death, police detained Lachney and added vehicular homicide charges to his DWI charges. According to Louisiana law, vehicular homicide is a violent crime when the driver’s (BAC) is at least three times the legal limit, as Lachney’s was. The court set his bond at $300,000, but upon discovering that Lachney had previous DWI convictions, they increased his bond amount to $1 million. Even if he posts bond, he will not be allowed to drive and will be subject to GPS monitoring.
Contact the Law Office of Patrick H. Yancey About Car Accidents Involving Alcohol
Drinking alcohol before driving greatly increases the chances of causing an accident and injuring someone. A car accident lawyer can help you if you were injured in an accident involving a drunk driver. Contact the Law Office of Patrick H. Yancey in Houma, Louisiana to see if you have grounds for a lawsuit.