After pleading guilty to charges of drunk driving, a Vermont man received a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence in late August. One passenger died in the automobile accident that led to the criminal charges, in which the man was allegedly driving with more than twice the legal blood alcohol level.
The accident occurred at about 1:00 a.m. on October 2, 2011, when a car driven by 23 year-old Derek Seber, a Maryland resident attending Norwich University, ran off a road in Northfield, Vermont and crashed into the trees. Witnesses said they saw a car speed past them at fifty to sixty miles per hour. The posted speed limit at the turn where the crash occurred was thirty-five miles per hour. The car, an Acura 4S sedan, was carrying seven passengers in addition to Seber. A passenger in the front seat, an eighteen year-old Norwich freshman, was sitting in another passenger’s lap with no seatbelt. She sustained fatal injuries in the crash. Three other passengers suffered critical injuries.
Seber allegedly fled the scene of the accident into the woods on foot. Emergency responders found him about one hundred feet from the road. He allegedly provided them with a false name, and he allegedly attempted to flee from the hospital through an emergency exit. His blood alcohol level registered at 0.21 percent, more than two-and-a-half times the legal limit of 0.08 percent. Seber told law enforcement that he went off the road after swerving to avoid a car in front of him. A witness in that car told police that Seber was driving too fast and only attempted to pass because of the car’s speed.
Prosecutors charged Seber with driving under the influence causing death, gross negligence in operation of a motor vehicle, and fleeing the scene of a fatal auto accident. Seber entered pleas of not guilty to all counts at an arraignment on October 3, 2011. The charges could have resulted in a total prison sentence of forty-five years.
Seber and his passengers had all been at a party hosted by a fellow Norwich student, who told police that he knew underage drinking was occurring. He said that he told his guests to leave at around midnight that night. Prosecutors charged the host with being a minor in possession of alcohol, enabling underage drinking, and violating conditions of his release for his own DUI matter.
On July 19, 2012, Seber pleaded guilty to driving under the influence. He also pleaded no contest to fleeing the scene of a fatal accident. He agreed to serve two-and-a-half years in prison, although his total sentence is five to fifteen years. The family of the girl who died in the crash expressed disappointment at the short sentence. A judge accepted the plea and formally sentenced Seber in late August.
A driver owes passengers, other drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians a duty of care to drive safely and obey traffic laws. A failure to obey such laws can constitute evidence of a breach of a driver’s legal duty, which helps a plaintiff in a civil suit for damages. Violating drunk driving laws can therefore lead to civil liability as well as criminal penalties. Lebowitz & Mzhen’s attorneys are skilled at pursuing justice for people in Maryland who were injured or lost loved ones in automobile accidents. Contact us today online or call (800) 654-1949 for a free and confidential consultation.
More Blog Posts:
Four Die in Car Crash in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, Maryland Accident Law Blog, February 20, 2012
Paralyzed Construction Worker Receives One of the Largest Workers’ Compensation Settlements in History After a Long Fight, Maryland Accident Law Blog, February 13, 2012
Alleged DUI Driver Hits Maryland School Bus, Maryland Accident Law Blog, December 20, 2011
Photo credit: ‘Norwich University Winter’ by Zuejay [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC-BY-2.5], via Wikimedia Commons.