The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) set up a driving under the influence (DUI) checkpoint at Las Vegas Boulevard and Windmill Lane on July 14, the same night that a Nevada Traffic Safety Committee meeting addressed an increase in traffic-related fatalities in the Las Vegas Valley. According to KVVU-TV, there have already been 100 such fatalities in 2015 after there were 77 in 2014, and the Valley has seen seven bicyclist fatalities after none were killed at the same point last year.
Two nights before the checkpoint and safety meeting, two people were killed in a five-car accident on North Lamb Boulevard near Interstate 15 in Las Vegas when a pickup truck traveling at speeds that witnesses told the Nevada Highway Patrol may have been going 100 mph ran a red light and slammed into the other vehicles. The Associated Press reported that the truck’s driver, 26-year-old Arian Galindo, was arrested and faces felony DUI charges after a 52-year-old man and a 34-year-old man were killed in the accident.
A little more than two weeks before that crash, 40-year-old Abraham Lebron Jr. was arrested on suspicion of DUI involving death and hit-and-run after striking and killing a bicyclist in Las Vegas on June 26. According to the Las Vegas Sun, Lebron Jr. fled but turned himself in after striking a bicyclist who was crossing Sahara Avenue at Mohawk Street.
A first-time DUI arrest in Nevada is typically classified as a misdemeanor, and a conviction could possibly result in a maximum sentence of six months in jail. However, this becomes a category B felony under Nevada Revised Statute § 484C.430 if the DUI results in death or substantial bodily harm to another party. A conviction for this offense is punishable by a minimum of at least two years up to 20 years in prison as well as a possible fine of at least $2,000 up to $5,000.
Additionally, an alleged offender could fact category A felony vehicular homicide charges if he or she has three previous DUI convictions and causes the death of another person while driving drunk. In these cases, alleged offenders could be sentenced to 25 years up to life in prison with no possibility of paroles until at least 10 years of the prison term have been served.
The recent high-profile fatal crashes in the Las Vegas area means that officers throughout Clark County will be more aggressively seeking to keep drunk drivers off the road in hoped of reducing DUIs causing death or serious bodily injury. Motorists in and around the valley should fully expect more checkpoints as part of a concentrated effort to apprehend alleged DUI offenders.
It is important for any person who is charged with vehicular homicide to understand that if alcohol consumption is proven by a preponderance of the evidence, then he or she may be able to use the affirmative defense that he or she consumed a sufficient quantity of alcohol after driving or being in actual physical control of the vehicle, and before his or her blood or breath was tested, that caused his or her breath to have an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more. An alleged offender must file and serve on the prosecuting attorney a written notice of intent to use this defense at least 14 days before the trial, hearing, or other time as the court may direct.
All drivers in Clark County should always avoid drinking and driving, but they should also be prepared for local police to be a little more eager to place alleged offenders under arrest for any signs of possible impairment. Do not assume that a drunk driving arrest is an automatic conviction. An experienced Las Vegas DUI attorney can investigate all of the circumstances involved and fight to possibly have criminal charges reduced or dismissed.