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Birthday beers lead to death and injuries on a New Jersey road

A birthday celebration in New Jersey turned into a deadly accident when the celebrants took to the road after having a few beers at the local bar.

Now, the guy who was celebrating his birthday is behind bars, one of his close friends is dead and three others are hospitalized with injuries.

While the man claims that he only had two beers before he climbed behind the wheel of his pickup truck with his friends inside, he was too intoxicated to properly make a left-hand turn onto the highway. Instead, he slammed into the nearby retaining wall.

Even though the driver insisted that he only had two drinks and that his foot was actually stuck on the gas pedal, causing him to lose control of the truck when he tried to make the turn, the officers responding to the accident describe a scene that indicates the driver may have had much more to drink than he was willing to admit.

Officers stated that the driver was red-eyed, virtually incoherent when he tried to describe the circumstances of the accident, unable to keep his footing and slurring his words.

The driver of the truck is now being held in jail on three charges of assault by auto on the surviving passengers and one count of death by auto for the deceased passenger.

Death or assault by auto charges are somewhat unique -- not many states make the distinction in their laws the way that New Jersey does. In order to meet the criteria for the charge, the prosecutor has to feel that the driver was utterly reckless or consciously ignored the risk of death he was causing to others by getting behind the wheel.

In other words, the prosecutor in this case isn't particularly convinced by the driver's "tale of two beers" and a stuck gas pedal. The criminal charge is a felony that carries a potential of a decade in prison plus a $200,000 fine.

Anyone who is injured by a drunk driver -- even if he or she was a passenger -- should consult an attorney about the possibility of a personal injury case. Criminal lawsuits hold the driver accountable to the state, but it takes a civil lawsuit to hold the driver financially accountable to the victim or his or her family.

Source: The Daily Record, "Dover police: Deadly crash followed birthday beers at nightclub," Peggy Wright, Sep. 25, 2017

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Gary D. Ginsberg is a Certified Civil Trial Lawyer who has been recognized as an expert in litigating cases in the courts of New Jersey.

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