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Missoula man gets five years for DWI deaths

A young man from Missoula, Montana, pleaded guilty to two counts of vehicular homicide under the influence and one count of vehicular negligent assault after reportedly killing two of his friends and injuring another in a DWI accident. The man was sentenced on April 25 to five years’ prison time, though he has not yet faced any civil proceedings in connection with the two wrongful deaths.

Authorities report that the young man killed his two friends, ages 18 and 20, on March 4, 2012. He was driving at speeds in excess of 90 mph when the accident occurred, causing his vehicle to miss a curve and start rolling down a hillside. Another passenger, age 22, survived the crash after having been airlifted to medical facilities in Seattle. Official reports show that the driver had evidence of alcohol, marijuana and cocaine in his system at the time of the crash.

Although the young man will serve just five years’ jail time, he is subject to about 45 years of additional penalties if he violates terms of his supervised release. That means that he cannot be found to have any traces of alcohol, marijuana or cocaine in his system at any point during his parole. The defendant will be permitted to participate in boot camp programs designed to lower his prison sentence through rehabilitation.

Even though the driver got a relatively lenient sentence from the judge, he could land back in jail for more than four decades if he makes a subsequent mistake. Furthermore, he could face financial punishment through a civil court decision. The families of the two decedents could pursue financial compensation for wrongful death, pain and suffering, emotional distress and loss of consort. In addition, the passenger who suffered critical injuries could seek damages for medical bills, pain and suffering and disfigurement, among other possible claims. The young man’s payment for his actions may not be confined solely to criminal court.

Source:  billingsgazette.com, "Missoula man sentenced for fatal crash" Gwen Florio, Apr. 25, 2013

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