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Proximate cause: Getting a DUI without even driving

Though many of today’s readers care little about criminal cases in other states, a very unique one out of New York this month may just give you pause. That’s because the case deals with a legal theory that very well could be applied here in Virginia. If so, anyone in a similar predicament to the man in this particular case could find themselves facing steep criminal charges for which they may not feel they are responsible.

The case we are referring to is that of a 28-year-old man who is currently facing vehicular homicide charges because of a fatal crash in October 2012. The story goes that the 28-year-old man’s vehicle, which was stopped after striking two other vehicles, was then hit by another vehicle. The force of this third crash caused the 28-year-old man’s car to collide with an officer who was assisting with the initial crash. That officer would later die from his injuries.

The question before the court is whether the 28-year-old man was responsible for the officer’s death. Though the defense argues against this assumption, pointing out that the driver was not in his vehicle when it crashed into the officer, prosecutors are pushing for a different outcome.

To do this, they are “employing the legal principle of ‘causation/foreseeability,'” also known as proximate cause by some. This legal theory holds a defendant accountable for events that could have foreseeably happened as a result of their actions. The defense disagrees with this tactic though, calling it an overreach.

Though we are pointing out this particular case in today’s post, please note that this isn’t the only time the proximate cause legal principle has been employed to seek justice in criminal defense cases like this. The history of case law contains several example cases in which people were charged with crimes because other actions of theirs led to certain consequences.

Cases such as this are incredibly complicated, as you can imagine, and may not be successfully argued without the right defense or lawyer at your side. For all of our readers’ sake, we hope a similar situation does not befall you later on.

Source: CT Post, “NY man faces case that tests limits of criminal blame,” The Associated Press, Frank Eltman, Jan. 18, 2016

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