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Was DUI the Cause of a Fatal Burien Crash?

Posted by Kevin Trombold DUI Defense Attorney | Nov 12, 2015 | 0 Comments


It's a tragedy, to be sure. A man is driving an SUV in Burien when he reportedly runs a red light and crashes into the side of a Toyota Corolla turning left. The woman driving the Toyota is killed, and her ten-year old son is injured.

The man, 20-year old M. S. of Kent, has been charged with vehicular homicide and assault, offenses which are consistent with this type of incident. But it appears that police and at least two media outlets are trying to turn this into a DUI case.

That's apparent by these two headlines:

"Bail set for driver suspected of DUI in fatal crash" - Seattle Times, October 26

"Troopers: Mom killed, son injured after DUI crash in Burien" - KOMO-TV, October 25 (online)

The only information that gives any support to those headlines is a Washington State Patrol report which states that Siwakoti was found to be "under the influence of a depressant."

Millions of Americans take medications every day - including M.S., whose father said that the man takes medication for mental health issues. But none of these news articles provide any other evidence that M.S. was driving erratically because he was high, woozy, or in any other "drug-induced" state.

So why is WSP and the news media so quick to classify this as a DUI case? They haven't cited any blood tests, field sobriety tests, or other clues to support such a finding.

For the media, the answer is easy: DUI stories get more attention, which is what the news outlets want. For WSP, it may be an early attempt to gain leverage over the defendant in the hopes of maximizing the penalty for the crash.

It's quite possible that the facts will eventually show that M.S. did have a high concentration of drugs in his system. But jumping to such a conclusion at this early stage of the case is inaccurate and irresponsible.

About the Author

Kevin Trombold DUI Defense Attorney

Highly rated by former clients, who praise his warm, knowledgeable courtside manner and his fierce determination to reduce or eliminate charges. An accomplished speaker, author, and leader in DUI defense statewide Kevin is well respected by judges, prosecutors, and other attorneys across the State of Washington for his expertise, integrity, and knowledge in the complicated forensic science area of impaired driving allegations.


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