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Driver that killed Kansas pedestrian had 5 DWI convictions

The Kansas Department of Transportation reported 2,550 alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents in 2011, resulting in more than 1,540 injuries. Twenty-eight percent of all auto accident deaths in the state that year occurred during drunk driving accidents.

Kansas officials did not document how many alcohol-linked car accidents were caused by drunk drivers that had repeat DUI or DWI convictions. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that one-third of all DUI arrests involve drivers who were arrested for drunk driving offenses in the past.

A 51-year-old woman in a nearby state was driving a pickup truck that struck and killed a pedestrian late last month. Observers said the 20-year-old Kansas accident victim was hit while walking down the middle of the street.

Police smelled alcohol on the truck driver's breath and noticed other physical symptoms of intoxication. The driver claimed she consumed two beers earlier that night. She failed multiple field sobriety tests, and a hospital blood test was ordered. The woman later revised her story to include three beers.

The driver was initially charged with reckless driving, suspicion of driving while intoxicated and alcohol breath test refusal. The defendant was released after posting bond.

Within days, prosecutors filed DWI and negligent homicide charges, which are felonies punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a maximum $15,000 fine. Prosecutors also asked a court to revoke the suspension of earlier sentences for breaking and entering and drug-related convictions.

The defendant entered a not guilty plea.

Reports said the woman had five previous DWI convictions. The last was recorded 15 years ago. Under that state's rules, DWIs are removed from criminal records within five years.

State Highway Safety Offices, part of the Governors Highway Safety Association, reported that, at any given time, about two million drivers with at least three drunk-driving convictions are on U.S. roads. Kansas victims and families harmed by drunk drivers may receive compensation in negligence claims.

Source: 5newsonline.com, "Driver Pleads Not Guilty To Negligent Homicide, DWI" Katie Kormann, Nov. 06, 2013

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