When the Worst Moment of Your Life Isn’t Entirely Your Fault
It’s perhaps the favorite story of every local news station in the country: irresponsible driver crashes into something, harming or killing innocents. It gets told a hundred times a day across the country, and many of those incidents are pretty cut and dry. They really do involve someone driving irresponsibly, and the victims are just that: victims who did nothing wrong.
However, that is not always the case. It would, of course, do local news stations no good to add nuance to such stories, since the clear black and white nature makes them so easy to tell, but the fault is not always 100% clear, and that can lead to people being punished for acts that aren’t entirely their fault.
For instance, imagine driving after having a single drink of alcohol and crashing into someone who is driving slower than other cars on the road. In that case, you might get charged with driving under the influence even if you are under the legal limit. It would be easy to pin reckless driving charges on you as well, even if you weren’t being reckless. All the sudden, what is already horrible can become unimaginable.
As the law firm Truslow & Truslow point out, vehicular manslaughter cases are often prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, which can mean decades behind bars. This is true, according to the firm, whether the crime was intentional or not.
Think about that for a moment. This can mean any number of small mistakes that everyone makes can lead to decades of your life being taken away.
Have you ever looking down at your radio or music playing device while driving? Well, if in that instant a car hit the breaks suddenly and you crashed into them, you’d be responsible. If the person in the other car died, it could mean essentially the end of your life as well.
Have you ever made an illegal u-turn? The next time you did, if someone was speeding down the road and you didn’t see them, the same result could happen.
Have you ever gone down the wrong way on a one-way street by accident? It’s the same thing.
Of course, no one would argue that the majority of cases of vehicular manslaughter should be charged without any leniency. For those who are severely drunk and choose to drive, of course, their actions should lead to extreme consequences. The same is true for those who do drugs and drive, or for those who drive recklessly, going twenty or thirty miles over the speed limit.
But there needs to be more shades of gray and more nuance in how we approach these crimes. It’s too easy to turn everyone into a villain or a victim. While that can make for good TV, it doesn’t make for good ethical law enforcement in real life. More should be done to present the whole truth so that people who made small mistakes don’t pay for them the same way as those who were truly irresponsible.