Who’s to blame?
Michael De Dora
Posted on March 7, 2012
Imagine the following scenario:
After a couple hours of drinking at a bar, you decide you are too inebriated to drive. So, you hand your keys to your significant other, who you judge to be sober enough to drive.
As is turns out, your significant other was legally drunk. On the way home, he or she strikes and kills two men.
Clearly the driver would face charges, but what about the significant other who was too drunk to drive and handed over his or her keys? Should he or she face charges? Because that’s exactly what is happening in Tennessee:
A 21-year-old Hermitage woman who had been out drinking late one night in December gave her car keys to her 23-year-old boyfriend, thinking he was sober enough to drive.
But the night turned tragic when her boyfriend struck and killed two young men about their same age on Demonbreun Street near the Music Row roundabout, then drove her Toyota Scion across a median and hit a taxicab head-on.
Erin Brown’s boyfriend was charged with vehicular homicide and assault. She had been in the passenger seat. But in a rare use of the law, police also are charging Brown with the same crimes. She faces as many as three decades in prison.
Police and prosecutors says Brown violated a part of the highway safety section of the Tennessee Code that makes it unlawful for the owner of a vehicle to direct, require or knowingly permit the operation of a vehicle in any manner contrary to the law.
Allowing someone to drive your car when you know they are drunk, prosecutors say, makes you criminally responsible for their actions.
The District Attorney’s Office commonly charges vehicle owners with driving under the influence for allowing a drunk person to drive their car. But the vehicular homicide charge, a felony, against Brown is the first of its kind in Nashville.
What do you think of this controversial move?