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Kansas plea deal allows DUI driver to avoid admission of fault

Not every at-fault driver is charged with a crime following a Kansas motor vehicle accident. When authorities do bring charges, defendants may be convicted and punished without acknowledging blame. A no contest plea is a defendant's acceptance of penalties based on evidence strongly favoring a conviction, but the accused party never has to admit guilt.

A man will be sentenced next month for causing an injury accident in McPherson while driving under the influence. As part of a plea agreement, the 50-year-old out-of-state resident pleaded no contest to a single count of aggravated battery DUI. A second count of aggravated battery DUI and a separate DUI charge were dropped.

Police said a 38-year-old Lindsborg woman suffered a severe head injury that left her comatose in December after the intoxicated defendant drove head-on into the victim's car. The alleged drunk driver swerved into the path of the oncoming Ford Focus after losing control on an ice patch. A third person, driving a vehicle behind the defendant, also was involved in the car wreck.

The badly injured victim is a teacher in McPherson. Her family reported the woman is now conscious, but is dependent on care and currently is in the process of trying to regain her communication skills. The family's thoughts and concerns were taken into consideration, as prosecutors and the defendant were negotiating the plea agreement.

Injured victims of Pittsburg auto accidents may feel the criminal legal process dismisses the losses they've suffered by giving defendants the option to avoid direct responsibility. In liability claims, civil courts order damages when evidence of negligence or recklessness is clear. The plaintiff receives acknowledgement of the defendant's fault and compensation.

Liability claims are not dependent upon whether an at-fault driver faces criminal charges. No conviction is necessary for a personal injury lawsuit to succeed. However, the evidence used in a criminal prosecution can be invaluable to a plaintiff's case.

Source: By Cristina Janney and Josh Arnett McPherson Sentinel, "Man charged in DUI accident takes plea" Cristina Janney and Josh Arnett, Jun. 05, 2014

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