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Texas man sentenced to life in prison after fatal DWI

A 44-year-old Livingston, Texas, man could be spending the rest of his life in prison without the chance for parole after a tragic DWI crash last year just north of Rye, in Liberty County. The crash killed two people and seriously injured a third one. It was his sixth DWI.

One of his passengers, a 21-year-old man, died at the scene. A 13-year-old passenger survived the crash, but was later removed from life support. Another 13-year-old suffered a traumatic brain injury. He's learning to speak again and can no longer walk.

The 8-months-pregnant woman whom the drunk driver struck when he moved into the lane going the opposite direction, suffered broken bones and ribs. Her unborn son was safely delivered.

This is at least the second time in recent months that a Texas resident has received a DWI-related life sentence. In June of this year, a 56-year-old Texas man was sentenced to life in prison after his ninth DWI.

The Livingston man was sentenced to six life sentences -- one for each of the charges, including murder, intoxicated manslaughter and assault, to which he pleaded guilty. His previous DWIs occurred between the early 1990s and 2007 in Texas and Oklahoma. His rap sheet also includes convictions for crimes related to firearms, deadly conduct and theft.

The drunk driver's blood alcohol level was determined to be 0.281. However, his defense team challenged that. They argued that it was impacted by pain medication he was given after the crash as well as bacteria allegedly on the vials in which is blood was placed. They also argued that the driver of the other vehicle was traveling considerably over the speed limit, even though the speed was determined to be less than five miles over the limit.

The jury nonetheless took just a few hours to find the defendant guilty and hand down a sentence. Because of the severity of the sentence, it's likely to be appealed.

Sadly, not even the severe sentences handed down against repeated drunk drivers deter some people from getting behind the wheel when they're in no condition to drive. Victims of drunk drivers and surviving family members can and should seek justice in the criminal courts but in civil court as well in order to help get the compensation they need for medical costs, lost wages and other damages.

Source: The American Bazaar, "Life prison sentences for repeat DWI offenders raise questions," Andrew Kragie, Oct. 02, 2016

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