Does falling asleep at the wheel of your truck and causing an accident — even a fatal one — deserve 99 years in prison?
That’s the sentence a 19-year-old long-haul trucker received after killing a 29-year-old nurse. The accident was heavily reported under lurid headlines that incorrectly described the truck driver as an “illegal immigrant” and a drunk driver without a shred of remorse for his actions.
Convicted of reckless murder for the 2018 accident, the defendant listened to his sentence being handed down and a lecture from the judge while a crowd of onlookers watched. Most will probably walk away satisfied with what they feel is justice.
However, the reality — shown in the trial through evidence — is that the defendant wasn’t even over the legal threshold for intoxication for a minor in Alabama. He also wasn’t an illegal immigrant but in the country on a work visa that was in good standing. He had never been in trouble with the law before.
To be fair, he did make a reckless decision to get behind the wheel of his truck after working the entire day before and attending a party that night before driving home again. He didn’t make it because he fell asleep at the wheel.
The trial evidence showed that the defendant was careless — but his punishment doesn’t seem to be on par with the punishment with others who have committed similar crimes — or even worse ones. For example, take the case of a 28-year-old white woman who killed a 75-year-old in Huntsville while driving drunk. The 28-year-old had twice been convicted of DUI prior to that incident and fled the scene. She will serve only three years in prison and five on probation.
There’s strong evidence to support the notion that the press attention and public outcry that started over the “illegal drunk driver” (misinformation that spread quickly) may have influenced the sentence the young defendant received.
When you are charged with a DUI while holding a commercial driver’s license, it’s critically important to understand that the public narrative around your case can factor into your defense. Get experienced legal assistance as early as possible.