This February, the world was shocked when a man in New Orleans plowed through a crowd of revelers at a Mardi Gras parade, injuring 28 people. Many feared the incident was an act of terrorism, but in the end, the accident was actually one of the worst DUI accidents in American history. While many people speculate about what sentence driver Neilson Rizzuto will receive, here’s what he could expect if he committed a similar crime in San Diego, according to La Jolla DUI attorney Peter M. Liss.
Right now in Louisiana, Rizzuto is facing charges for vehicular negligence resulting in injury, reckless operation and hit-and-run, but police say he will likely face more charges as well. Most notably, he will almost certainly face DUI charges as he had a BAC of .232% in a state that, like California, abides by the .08% limit.
If the same crime occurred in CA, Rizzuto would face similar charges, including (but not limited to) reckless driving, hit and run, and felony DUI with a high BAC enhancement. Even with just these charges, the young man will likely be behind bars for a very long time as even a top Mira Mesa DUI lawyer would be unlikely to get him acquitted for the crime or to negotiate a very lenient plea bargain for a case that is this highly publicized and with this many victims.
Reckless driving charges ordinarily are misdemeanors that carry a potential jail sentence of up to 90 days and be made to pay fines of up to $1,000, but in cases where people were seriously injured, the crime can be a felony instead, punishable by up to three years in prison. Hit and run accidents that resulted in injuries can carry sentences of up to four years in prison. While this was Rizzuto’s first DUI, the fact that it involved negligent driving that resulted in injury means he could face a felony if he were to be charged in California. Felony DUIs can result in three years imprisonment, but in cases where a victim suffered great bodily injury, another three years can be added to the sentence for each seriously injured person. An extra year can be added if more than one person is injured as well. Finally, with a BAC of almost three times the legal limit, the judge would have discretion to add on even more jail time, increased fines and more to the sentence. All in all, Rizzuto could easily face more than 20 years imprisonment if the accident occurred in California. A skilled Solana Beach DUI attorney could probably limit the number of charges he would face and negotiate a plea bargain with significantly less prison time on the grounds that Rizzuto had an otherwise clean criminal and driving record, but with a crime so heavily publicized, he would almost certainly have to spend a few years in prison no matter what.
Fortunately, few drunk drivers will face such numerous or severe criminal charges. If you have been accused of driving under the influence, Carmel Valley DUI defense lawyer Peter M. Liss can help. Please call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation.
Creative Commons Image by Mark Bonica