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Danny Feldman
Danny Feldman
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Its no "accident" when you run over bicyclists after drinking all night

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Three cyclists recently were hit and injured in Baldwin County by a 28 year old driver who apparently had been out drinking all night and had yet to go to bed. See article at http://blog.al.com/live/2009/08/two_baldwin_county_cyclists_hi.html. Interestingly, this 28 year old "child" still lived at home with his parents. After the incident, the father of the 28 year old driver issued a statement advising that thoughts and prayers went out to the bicyclists and their families for this terrible "accident." According to the article, the 28 year old driver had been out drinking all night and refused a breath test. A blood test was taken and although results have not yet been released, I believe that there is a very good chance that these tests will show that this young man was drunk when the wreck occurred at 8:30 in the morning.

Staying out all night drinking, then driving around drunk, losing control of your vehicle and then running over cyclists is no "accident." Rather, had one of the cyclists died, which easily could have happened, the case is one of vehicular homicide. Calling something an "accident" when it really is a deliberate action taken without regard for the health and well-being of the general public, cyclists included, really is an attempt to minimize the seriousness of the wrongdoing involved. While it may be true that this motorist did not mean to run over these cyclists, the fact of the matter is he did mean to get drunk; he did chose to stay up all night; after drinking and staying up all night, he did decide to drive his car – consequences be damned.

This case hits close to home in Baldwin County where another young man on two separate occassions separated by only a couple of years, got drunk and killed cyclists. Tragic, but hardly an "accident," especially the second time.

Here in Birmingham, I handled a case 5 years ago where a man, only a few years younger than the one here at issue, and like the one here, still living at home with his parents, went out, got drunk and ran over 3 cyclists on Lakeshore Drive. He fled the scene, dragging one of the cyclist’s bikes under his car for more than a mile. His mother made him turn himself in and when he took a blood test a couple of hours later, we were able to determine through expert testimony from a toxicologist, that his blood alcohol level at 7:30 am on a Sunday morning was about twice the legal limit. Discovery revealed that this young man had had a serious of incidents, including arrests and convictions for public drunk, disturbing the peace, DUI’s etc. However, each time, his penalty was quite minor, maybe attendance at an alcohol abuse class. Even in the incident described above, he spent only one night in jail because, fortunately, the cyclists involved did not die and they decided not to press assault charges.

I wonder about Mr. Maple, the 28 year old in Mobile. I would be very surprised, indeed, stunned, if he did not have a number of arrests and/or convictions, for DUI and the like. The article states that he was able to leave by posting a $1,000 bail. Has he learned a lesson? Will he quit going out and getting drunk and threatening not only himself, but every other motorist, cyclist or pedestrian that gets in his way? I bet not – and that’s too bad for all of us.