An Oklahoma doctor will spend more than a decade behind bars for causing a fatal accident while intoxicated and then fleeing the scene. During a May 21 sentencing hearing, the judge sentenced the cardiologist to 15 years in prison for manslaughter, one year for driving under the influence and one year for leaving the scene of an accident. He was also ordered to pay fines totaling $21,500. The man learned of his fate about two months after a jury found him guilty on all counts.
Interstate accident kills motorcyclist
The man was originally taken into custody following a fatal accident on Interstate 35 in Oklahoma City in November 2018. According to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, the doctor’s car struck a motorcyclist near 33rd Street and then left the scene at a high rate of speed. Edmond Police Department officers caught up with him a short time later when he abandoned his vehicle after striking a light pole. He was taken into custody following a brief struggle according to reports.
Prosecutors present compelling case
During the weeklong trial, prosecutors introduced toxicology evidence showing that the doctor’s blood alcohol concentration was about three times the legal driving limit in Oklahoma when he struck and killed the motorcyclist. Witnesses also told the jury that the doctor consumed more than 10 glasses of Scotch whisky before setting out on his journey. Defense attorneys argued that the doctor did not see the motorcyclist because of torrential rain. Media reports indicate that he plans to file an appeal.
Weighing a trial against a plea bargain
Criminal defendants who are convicted after a trial usually receive harsher sentences than those who enter into negotiated plea arrangements. In DUI cases, experienced criminal defense attorneys may suggest accepting plea offers when the toxicology evidence is persuasive and sentences are likely to be severe. If you are facing drunk driving charges and you are unsure about how best to proceed, a defense attorney could study the police report and then make recommendations. An attorney could suggest rejecting a plea offer if the police officer involved may have pulled your car over for no good reason or breath tests were performed using unreliable equipment.