A 27-year-old Louisiana man was taken into police custody after his involvement in a high-speed collision that took place on Interstate 10. The Feb. 22 accident occurred at approximately 5:18 a.m. when the driver's vehicle drifted off the road while traveling at an estimated speed of 90 miles per hour before it rear-ended another Louisiana driver's SUV. The 66-year-old Baton Rouge driver was partially thrown from his vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene.
While the first driver admitted to using drugs the day before, police reported that he did not appear to be intoxicated at the time of the accident. The 27-year-old was taken to Ascension Parish Prison for booking and charged with negligent homicide in the death of the SUV driver. Although the district attorney's office refused to release the toxicology reports, negligent homicide is a charge that may apply when the at-fault driver's drug or alcohol usage led to the death of another driver. The charge is less significant than vehicular homicide, which results when the driver has a blood-alcohol level of .08 percent or greater.
In addition to the count of negligent homicide, the driver also faced misdemeanor charges of driving on a suspended license and reckless operation. He was released after posting bail for the misdemeanor counts the same day. According to police, the driver told them that any presence of drugs in his system would have been from his usage the day prior rather than the day of the accident.
Car accidents that involve drug or alcohol use that contributed to a fatality may be grounds not only for criminal but civil penalties. The victim's family may be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit that could cover damages such as funeral costs and pain and suffering. Toxicology tests may play a large role in determining whether the driver acted negligently and can be held liable for such damages.
Source: The Advocate, "Man arrested in fatal 0crash acknowledges drug use day before, but police said after wreck he didn't appear to be 'under the influence'," David Mitchell, April 22, 2015