Cook County, IL- An Illinois man is facing several counts including DUI after he struck and killed a panhandler early Sunday morning.
According to various reports, Manuel Guerrero-Lopez, 26, was westbound on North Ave. when he failed to stop for a red light at the Kennedy Expressway ramp and struck a southbound traveling vehicle waiting at the traffic signal. Guerrero-Lopez’s vehicle then rolled-over onto the passenger side and slid across the oncoming lanes.
His vehicle then slid into a pedestrian who was panhandling in the middle of the road, CBS Chicago reported.
The panhandler, 73 year-old Charles Jones of Indiana was pronounced dead on the scene. His death was ruled an accident by the Cook County Medical Examiner.
DNAinfo reported that Guerrero-Lopez had to crawl out of the driver’s side window and was unable to take field sobriety tests because of his injuries. Police however took his blood at the scene and found that his blood alcohol level was .16, twice the legal limit.
He was charged with one felony count of aggravated DUI and misdemeanor counts which include failure to stop for a red light, DUI, and failure to exercise due care to avoid a pedestrian.
A felony DUI involving an accidental death will almost always entail jail time if prosecutors are able to secure a conviction. The amount of jail time a person receives depends on the individual circumstances of their case and whether they are able to negotiate for lesser charges. When facing charges as serious as aggravated DUI, the accused should never try to fight their charges on their own; they must have exceptional legal representation.
Choosing the right attorney can make a difference and give the alleged offender the opportunity to negate some of the long and short-term effects a DUI can have on a person’s life.
When choosing a DUI attorney, an individual should look for an attorney who has experience with the criminal defense in the jurisdiction where they are charged. To be effective, an attorney must understand the DUI laws in the state where a person was charged, and grasp the ramifications of a guilty plea or conviction. They must also be familiar with which plea bargains and reduced charges a prosecutor is willing to offer or accept.
A DUI should be assertive but also have a fairly pleasant demeanor. A criminal defense attorney who doesn’t have a good rapport with a prosecutor or judge can jeopardize the offender’s case. Since many DUIs are handled before a person appears in court through pre-trial negotiations. These negotiations are key and can mitigate some of the harsher penalties associated with a DUI. If a DUI attorney doesn’t work well with the courts or the prosecutor, they may not be capable of convincing them their client deserves leniency in their charges or sentencing.