Nashville, TN- The bassist for Mississippi-bred rock band 3 Doors Down is facing vehicular manslaughter charges after causing a DUI accident in Nashville last Friday.
Police say Robert Todd Harrell was intoxicated last Friday when his Cadillac clipped a Ford 150 truck on I-40 last Friday night, according to the Sun Herald. The driver of the truck, 47 year-old Paul Shoulders lost control of his vehicle struck a guardrail and plunged down an embankment where it rolled over a few times. Shoulders was ejected from the truck and rushed to a local hospital where he later died.
Police said Shoulders was not wearing his safety belt.
Harrell’s Cadillac stopped a quarter of a mile from the scene after it crashed into a retaining wall, the Sun Herald reported. The musician failed several sobriety tests and admitted to drinking a cider and taking both the painkiller Lortab and anti-anxiety pill Xanax prior to the accident.
If convicted of vehicular manslaughter, Harrell could face a minimum jail sentence of 8 years.
Harrell was also charged with trying to smuggle drugs into the jail. A search revealed Harrell had at least eight Xanax, and over two dozen painkillers, including Oxycodone and Oxymorphone hidden on his person.
3 Doors Down has tour dates scheduled for April and May but have canceled those in light of Harrell’s arrest. On their website the band expressed their condolences for Shoulder’s family.
This was Harrell’s second arrest for driving under the influence. Last July, Harrell was driving D’Iberville, Mississippi when he failed to stop at an intersection and caused a minor traffic accident.
Harrell’s Cadillac rear-ended a pickup truck and he was later charged with DUI. He has not yet appeared in court for his first DUI charge.
Driving under the influence of prescription drugs is a growing problem. According to 2009 statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 18 percent of fatally injured drivers tested positive for at least one illicit or prescription drug. That is a significant increase over 2005 when 13 percent of drivers tested positive for drug use.
Despite the warnings posted on pill bottles, people either are unaware or unconcerned about how many of these prescription drugs affect their motor skills and ability to react in a hazardous situation.
With alcohol there is a legal threshold for impairment, if a driver has a blood alcohol level over .08 they can be charged with a DUI. Laws pertaining to drugged drivers have lagged far behind alcohol-impaired laws mainly because there is no legal threshold to determine drug levels and resulting impairment. However in states that have legalized marijuana for medicinal and recreational use, lawmakers are attempting to develop a legal limit for drivers who use this drug.
Without a legal limit pertaining to illicit or prescription drugs, it is easier for individuals who are charged with DUI to build an effective defense strategy that will help them avoid conviction.