Repeat Offender Sentenced after Fatal DUI in Oklahoma City

In April 17, 2010, 22-year-old Justin Hill of Norman got behind the wheel of his vehicle and began driving the wrong way down I-235 in Oklahoma City.  An oncoming car swerved to avoid Hill's vehicle and crashed, but Hill continued driving.  After continuing the wrong way for more than three miles, he then sideswiped another car, sending it slamming into a retaining wall, and instantly killing its passenger, 24-year-old Ashlee Madison of Oklahoma City.  His blood alcohol concentration was 0.22, nearly three times the legal limit. He had completed probation for a 2009 drunk driving conviction in Cleveland County less than two days before the fatal accident. As a result of the accident, Hill was charged with causing an accident while under the influence of alcohol, leaving the scene of a personal injury accident, and second degree murder. Justin Hill, now 25, pleaded guilty to all three charges against them and was sentenced this week in Oklahoma County District Court.  While the victim's mother requested a sentence of 24 years--one year in prison for each year of her daughter's life--Hill's Oklahoma City DUI homicide lawyer, supported by testimony from Hill's probation officer, requested a lighter sentence, pointing to Hill's remorse and his efforts to overcome his struggle with alcohol. Oklahoma County District Judge Ray C. Elliott sentenced Hill to twelve years in prison followed by eight years of probation. Oklahoma criminal statutes define second degree murder, in part, as homicide "perpetrated by an act imminently dangerous to another person and evincing a depraved mind, regardless of human life, although without any premeditated design to effect the death of any particular individual."  Unlike first degree murder, second degree murder does not carry the burden of proof of premeditation. An intoxicated driver who causes a death in a DUI accident has no intention, premeditation, or plan of killing someone as a result of his or her actions.  However, driving while intoxicated is considered an "imminently dangerous" act that disregards human life.  For this reason, drivers causing fatal DUI accidents can be charged with murder.  Second degree murder in Oklahoma is a felony punishable by a minimum of ten years in prison; the maximum sentence is life. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is always risky behavior.  If you are caught, consequences could range from a few days in jail to a lifetime in jail, depending on the nature of the arrest and the severity of your condition.  Drunk drivers risk their own lives and the lives of those around them.  If you or someone you love has been arrested for DUI in Oklahoma,  consult an attorney who can help you handle any ramifications of your arrest.

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