Monday, December 22, 2014

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Charges pending for driver in deadly crash

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Albany/HV: Charges pending for driver in deadly crash
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The driver of the car that rear-ended Chris Stewart's SUV has been identified as Dennis Drue. The 22-year-old from Clifton Park was treated at the hospital and released. As of now, he is not facing charges. Innae Park explains.

SARATOGA COUNTY, N.Y. -- Just a few days after the fatal Northway crash, the first hospitalized patient is released: Dennis Drue. However, no charges have yet been filed against him.

Legal experts say it's a deliberate move.

Paul DerOhannesian explained, "You don't want to bring forth a misdemeanor charge now and allow a defendant to plead for a misdemeanor and preclude any future felony charges."

On Sunday, Capt. Steven James of the New York State Police said, "If we determine that he's .08 or higher, that will be the DWI charge. And that will substantiate the vehicular manslaughter charge." He added, "I can assure you at one point, either vehicular homicide or manslaughter, it will be posted."

State Police are currently waiting on toxicology reports before filing charges. They report that Drue tested positive for alcohol breath screening tests, once at the scene of the crash, and another later that night.

Drue has no criminal record. But that's not the case with another history. "Mr. Drue does have a prior history when it comes to a driving record," said Capt. James.

YNN obtained Drue's convictions. He was caught speeding three times in 2008, convicted of disobeying a traffic device seven times in the past six years, and using a cell phone while driving twice.

"None of these offenses were crimes. None of them were alcohol-related crimes either," said DerOhannesian.

Even so, if Drue received any counseling or classes with regards to traffic safety due to his violations, DerOhannesian says it could mean a harsher outcome for him. "If I tell you, 'Watch out, don't do something because if you do, something can happen,' it makes you more culpable. That's how the law looks at it. And that's why he could face more serious punishment or responsibilities because of his prior actions."

State Police mentioned two possible charges for Drue. Criminally negligent homicide carries a maximum sentence of four years, while vehicular manslaughter could lead to seven years behind bars. DerOhannesian says if Drue ends up facing the most severe charge of aggravated vehicular homicide, a conviction could come with a jail sentence of up to 25 years.

Police say Drue will be arraigned in Halfmoon Town Court, though no date has been set.

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