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New York Court to Decide Whether Drivers Can Be Too Drunk to be Found Guilty

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New York State’s highest court this week heard arguments from lawyers of three drivers who claimed they were too drunk to understand what they were doing or the threat they posed to others. The judges will decide whether drivers can be considered too drunk to be found guilty.

In all three cases, juries convicted the drivers of second-degree murder, after prosecutors successfully argued they had shown a “depraved indifference to human life,” The New York Times reports. The cases were brought to the Court of Appeals for review on Tuesday.

Prosecutors argued the drivers knew they were endangering other drivers, but did not care.

Several judges seemed hesitant to create a defense of extreme drunkenness for drivers who caused severe accidents, the article notes. A decision on the cases is expected next month.

In 2006, the New York Court of Appeals ruled that depraved indifference is a state of mind, forcing prosecutors to prove a defendant consciously and willingly showed “an utter disregard for the value of human life” when they are trying to prove second-degree homicides, particularly in cases pertaining to drunk driving.

2 Responses to this article

  1. Avatar of Tricia
    Tricia / October 12, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    This is just nuts.
    I am sure they were acting cognitively when they decided to drink, to drink heavily and to continue to drink. I am sure that they were aware when they consciously decided to drive a vehicle on a night they designated as an evening for drinking. Equally I am curtain that at some point of their drunkenness they felt they were acting inappropriately in some way or another.
    What they are guilty of is ignoring their own warning signs and continuing through to a potential black out state.
    Really their BAL should be of some indication as to approximately how far gone they may have been. But if we are being honest – unless we know the level in which one has built tolerance we really don’t know how aware they may have been.
    I personally have been completely aware of my actions and been easily at 3.0 BAL due to tolerance in my abusing years.
    It happens all the time. I have seen people that should have been in a coma up walking around and communicating with stable vital signs.
    So really – for all the criminal drunks – thumbs up to the attorney’s for coming up with this potentially deadly loop whole in our already challenged system.

  2. Arnold Magy / October 9, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    This writer opines that it may be academic whether one is too drunk to be found guilty. The drinker is responsible from the first sip. Ergo, (s)he is responsible for whatever occurs thereafter. Responsible for being too drunk is also responsible for the result of that being to drunk.

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