Dara Keo, 30, will be arraigned on charges of Vehicular Homicide in the bicycle accident death of Craig Cronister, 44, who was struck while riding his bicycle in Federal Way on August 30.
Cronister was riding his bicycle on the shoulder of Military Road south when Keo’s vehicle swerved out of his lane and hit Cronister. Cronister died the next day at Harbor View Medical Center in Seattle after life support was removed. Read Bicyclist critically injured in Federal Way accident.
Prosecutors, who are charging Keo with vehicular homicide, maintain Keo was stoned on marijuana and prescription drugs when he hit and killed Cronister. A witness reported that Keo was driving erratically prior to the accident.
The Deputy Prosecutor Amy Freedheim said that Cronister claimed, “I have a medical marijuana card so it’s okay” when he was interviewed by police. The court is awaiting the results of Keo’s blood tests for drugs however his breathalyzer test tested negative for alcohol two hours after the motor vehicle accident.
Washington Vehicle Code RCW 64.61.520 “Vehicular Homicide” states that a driver can be charged with vehicular homicide if a person was killed as a result of a motor vehicle accident and the driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
If a driver is convicted of vehicular homicide while under the influence, the sentencing range is between 78-102 months.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 30 Americans are killed every day because of an impaired driver. In 2010 alone, 10,228 people were killed in alcohol-related accidents. Alcohol is only one of many substances that can impair a person’s ability to safely drive a car. Driving under the influence of prescription drugs and prescribed marijuana can result in DUI charges. Whether a person is using legally prescribed muscle relaxers or marijuana and choose to drive a motor vehicle, it is still an illegal act. A prescription is not a defense in a driving under the influence charge.
Testing for Drug Impairment
All states in the U.S. define a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher to be illegal. Alcohol is processed by the body in a rapid fashion so it is quite easy to take a measurement right after a car accident to determine the level of intoxication. Breathalyzer tests and blood tests are very accurate so measuring a BAC is quite easily achieved.
Testing for other drugs is not quite so easy. A person’s body metabolizes THC,the mind-altering ingredient in marijuana, much slower. THC can be detected in a person’s urine or bloodstreams weeks after a person consumed the drug and there is no correlation between level of impairment and THC in the bloodstream. In a trial, Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) are allowed to provide specific testimony on observation of a driver’s behavior, eye movements and results of field sobriety tests to establish whether the person was under the influence.
Marijuana can have differing effects on users including disorientation and altered time and space perception.
Wrongful Death Claims
Whenever a person is killed due to the negligent act of another person, as in drunk driving, the family of the victim may bring a wrongful death lawsuit on the behalf of their deceased loved one. In filing a wrongful death claim, a family is advised to retain a lawyer with a great deal of experience in wrongful death claims and a reputation for success in winning settlements for victim’s families. The Farber Law Group, a Bellevue personal injury and wrongful death attorney, has more than 30 years experience.
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