The man from Chesterfield who was accused of drunkenly crashing head-on into a vehicle, which resulted in the death of a teacher and injury of her son, was sentenced to a year in prison earlier this month. This case was previously discussed in this criminal defense blog, but now the man formally received his sentence after pleading guilty.

The man, who had faced drunk driving charges in connection with the incident, will also be subject to five years of probation and will be required to wear an alcohol-monitoring device for a year after he leaves jail.

Accident documentation indicates that the 54-year-old man was intoxicated when he drove over the centerline in his SUV. He crashed head-on into traffic in the oncoming lane, striking the other car. Police reports claim that his blood-alcohol content was about 0.14 percent.

Prosecutors say the man could be released in just over nine months if he behaves well in prison. They had sought the maximum sentence of seven years in connection with each charge, but the judge decided on a more lenient prison term.

The man had expressed remorse throughout the courtroom proceedings, saying that the accident had affected him deeply because he shared many mutual friends with the victim and her family. He has read each of the approximately 50 letters that the woman's family members and friends had sent him after the accident.

It is not clear whether the man had any prior convictions for DUI. Nonetheless, he was able to secure a fair sentence for an error in his better judgment. As this case proves, the sentencing phase of the criminal process is just as important as the other steps. If the criminal defense team does not work diligently to secure a sentence that is proportional to the circumstances behind the incident, then an unfair sentence may be issued.

In some cases, accepting a plea bargain is the best way to secure a fair sentence, but it is often in the best interests of a defendant to receive trusted legal counsel before entering a plea in court

Source: The Post-Dispatch, "Chesterfield man gets 1 year in jail for killing teacher in drunken driving crash," Joel Currier, Aug. 18, 2012