Charges of drunken driving were apparently not pressed against an Anne Arundel driver who allegedly caused a fatal pedestrian-car crash in the Annapolis area on New Year’s Day, 2010. According to police reports, the driver left the scene and when he turned himself in he refused a breathalyzer test to check for blood-alcohol content (BAC). Because of that fact, police could not substantiate the man’s alleged drunkenness at the time of the traffic accident.
As Maryland injury attorneys, I and my colleagues understand the anguish that a family feels for the death of a relative at the hands of a negligent driver. Any fatal car accident is tragic, not simply because that crash may have been avoided, but also because of the great distress to the victim’s family that such an event can cause. Wrongful death suits can be one avenue for a victim’s relatives to recover damages, including those for pain and suffering that the victim may have experienced prior to his or her death.
In the case of that fatal hit-and-run accident, the Anne Arundel prosecutor’s office decided to drop the charge of drunk driving against 22-year-old Thomas Judge following the collision that killed a 40-year-old Maryland resident, Alfred Byrd as he traversed Bay Ridge Road in the early morning hours of January 1, 2010.
The defense argued that Judge was not drunk at the time of the fatal crash and that the victim himself had contributed to his own death by wearing dark clothing and apparently having used some amount of cocaine prior to the accident as he staggered across the road, according to court records. The prosecution alleged that Judge and some friends drank boilermakers during a New Year’s Eve party before going downtown around 10pm to continue celebrating at several bars along West and Main streets.
According to reports, the defense was also prepared to bring forth witnesses who would say that Judge was not apparently inebriated at the end of the night. When the bars began to close, Judge and his friends went home. The defendant was reportedly behind the wheel of a friend’s pickup truck when the crash occurred.
The force of the impact apparently woke up one of two passengers riding along in the pickup. According to police reports, Judge told the man that he had hit a deer and they continued home. An expert witness testified that the victim’s body was “wrapped” over the hood following the collision, but the defense argued that this statement did not necessarily mean that the defendant could have seen the man because the vehicle, a Chevy Silverado, is a “big vehicle.”
When it comes to cases involving negligent driving, it is usually easier to prove the negligence in civil as opposed to criminal court, which is due to the different standards required in criminal cases versus civil. Which is exactly the issue in accident cases such as this one; the prosecutor’s office has a much greater burden in proving negligence than an injury accident lawyer pursuing a civil claim, such as wrongful death.
Due to the circumstantial evidence, prosecutors offered the defendant a plea agreement for a reduction in the charges. Judge pled guilty to one count of failing to stop and render aid. The judge in the case ordered the man to be placed on one-year unsupervised probation; he was also order to complete 50 hours of community service.
Top charge dropped in fatal Jan. wreck, HometownAnnapolis.com, June 10, 2011