OWI Causing Death

LeAnne Rogers reports in the Westland Observer that:

“A Westland man has been sentenced to five to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to three felonies in the drunk driving accident that killed a Waterford man. Thomas Rada, 55, was sentenced Friday by Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Craig Strong on the charges that included homicide-manslaughter and operating under the influence of alcohol causing a death. Stanislous Stan Zielinski, 69, of Waterford was killed in the June 9, 2010 accident.”

This tragic accident resulted in the death of one man, sending another off to prison for at least 5 years and up to 15 years.  The publicly available facts regarding this case give pause for concern as to whether the accused was guilty.

Chemical testing established that Mr. Rada’s blood alcohol content was below the legal limit, and he suffered from several medical conditions that may have caused him to pass out while driving.  Following the accident, the case took an exceptional amount of time in court due to repeated hospitalizations for these underlying conditions.   Mr. Rada ultimately pleaded no contest to these charges, landing him a lengthy prison sentence.  Presumably, the no contest plea was accepted by the court on the basis of potential civil liability, but it may also have been accepted if the motorist had no memory of the accident.

Michigan drunk driving laws exist to protect the public, but we cannot protect everyone on the road from unanticipated medical conditions.  A completely sober motorist is 28 times more likely to be killed by another sober motorist than a drunk driver.  This shocking statistic does not mean that driving drunk is acceptable, but it should underscore that driving is dangerous.  A car weighing 3,000 lbs. travelling at even a modest 45 mph carries enough force to wreck havoc on other cars, pedestrians and buildings.

Slow down, drive alert, and get there safe!