Suspect In Fatal Car Crash Now In Custody

The Lodi News-Sentinel reports a driver suspected to be responsible for a Lodi-area car accident has been transferred from a hospital in Sacramento, California, to the San Joaquin County Jail where he is being held, pending his arraignment. He is reported to be in custody, without bail.

The suspect in the case is just 28 years old, and sustained injuries in the crash reported to be so serious he spent nearly three weeks in critical condition. According to the Lodi News-Sentinel, the crash resulted in the death of three children and two parents, including a mother who was seven months pregnant. One child survived.

The alleged driver of the car faces six counts of very serious crimes, including second-degree murder and vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. According to the district attorney's office, the investigation is still underway, vehicles involved in the crash are being examined, and witnesses are being interviewed.

According to court records, the speedometer of the vehicle driven by the suspect was "stuck at a position of more than 100 miles per hour." Reports by investigators and police involved in the incident indicate the position of the now-broken speedometer indicates the speed of the driver at the time of the crash.

While car crashes are undeniably common, evidence regarding speed at the time of the crash can be collected in many ways, and there are many different ways the prosecution may attempt to prove a driver's speed during a crash. People v. Haeussler, a 1953 case decided by the Supreme Court of California, involved the issue of prosecution attempting to prove speed with a broken speedometer. The trial court allowed the testimony of a qualified expert and speedometer mechanic, who testified that severe impact could cause a speedometer needle to be fixed at any point, and that the fixed speed indicated on a broken speedometer after a collision does not necessarily indicate the speed at which the vehicle was traveling at the time of impact. On appeal, the Supreme Court of California determined the trial court did not abuse its discretion in allowing the expert testimony.

A more modern form of testing speed at the time of a crash, regardless of whether the crash involved Driving While Intoxicated or Driving Under the Influence charges, is through evidence collected by vehicular event data recorders, or sensing diagnostic modules, commonly known as Black Boxes. These devices can help provide information regarding the severity of a crash, whether a seatbelt was in use, the change of speed at the time of the crash, the speed at the time of the crash and whether the brake was applied during a crash. Often, information related to changes in speed and the failure to brake immediately before a crash is attempted to be introduced as evidence that someone was intoxicated at the time of the incident.

In addition to issues of speed, court records pertaining to the Lodi-area crash indicate the driver was allegedly driving while intoxicated, as he is alleged to have had a blood-alcohol level of 0.20. The legal limit in California is 0.08.

Issues of evidence in criminal cases can be very complicated. There may be issues of proof that require a sophisticated analysis of the law. Whether a dispute involves the alleged level of alcohol in the blood, or details of an accident, including speed, it is vital an experienced attorney assists you in your defense.