A Kentucky National Guard soldier was supposed to obey traffic laws and save lives. This may not be the case with Christopher Brandt. Kentucky National Guard soldier, Christopher Brandt, 23, of Lowmansville, Kentucky pleaded not guilty to charges in connection with a vehicle crash in North Dakota that killed two passengers and injured a third. He was charged with two counts of manslaughter and one count of reckless endangerment. He entered the not guilty plea during a hearing in March 2013.
Related: Drunk Driving In Kentucky Takes Lives
Authorities report that Brandt was driving drunk at a high speed when he lost control of his car and hit a tree. This killed Ronald Forsyth, 31, and Jason Burnette, 23. This accident also injured two people, Brandt and David Duncan, 23. All four people were Kentucky guardsmen undergoing military training at Camp Grafton. The crash happened in Devils Lake, North Dakota, on September 13, 2012.
- According to the FBI, in the United States during 2010, more than 1.41 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics.
- Drivers aged 21-25 are the largest group of offenders (23.4%).
- In 2008, there were 187 fatal accidents in Kentucky where at least one driver had a BAC of 0.08% or above.
DUI law in Kentucky
This accident occurred in North Dakota, but had it happened in Kentucky, DUI penalties would have been enforced. This could include: license suspension, probation, community labor programs, installation of car ignition interlock device and imprisonment. The penalties of a DUI get worse the more you commit it. For the first DUI conviction, you will be fined $200 to $500, spend two to 30 days in jail, attend 90 days of alcohol or substance abuse program, 30 to 120 day license suspension and 48 hours to 30 days of community labor. For a second DUI conviction, fines would be $350 to $500, seven days to six months in jail, one year of alcohol or substance abuse treatment, 12 to 18 month license suspension and 10 days to six months of community labor. If you receive a third DUI conviction, fines would be $500 to $1,000, 30 days to 12 months jail, one year of alcohol or substance abuse treatment, 24 to 36 month license suspension and 10 days to 12 months of community labor. After a fourth DUI conviction, a minimum term of 120 days imprisonment without probation, one year alcohol or substance abuse treatment and 60 month license suspension. This is considered as a Class D Felony.
Related: Should There Be Tougher DUI Laws In Kentucky?
Higher minimum jail time is due to the aggravating circumstances present in the case (KRS 189A.010). The aggravating circumstances are any one or more of the following:
- Excess of 30 miles per hour above the speed limit
- Wrong direction on a limited access highway
- Caused an accident resulting in death or serious physical injury
- Alcohol concentration in the operator’s blood or breath is 0.15 or more
- Refusing to submit to any test or tests of one’s blood, breath or urine requested
- Transporting a passenger under the age of 12-years-old
As a Kentucky Car Accident Attorney, I’d like to remind everyone to never drink and drive. It never ends well. In Brandt’s case, it changed his life and the lives of those involved forever. If you’re going to an event or place with alcohol, plan ahead. You should have a designated driver, plan on calling a taxi to take you home or schedule to have a friend or family member pick you up. Don’t let anyone drive who has been drinking! If you don’t have someone to drive you home, see if you can stay the night, if it’s at a friend’s house. Know your limit and don’t drink and drive.