Fatal Wrong-Way Car Crash in Middleboro Raises Questions About Driver's License Suspensions
July 26, 2012
A wrong-way collision on July 4, 2012 killed two people and severely injured two more. The crash has led to questions about current state law regarding drug prosecutions and convictions, and how they relate to a defendant's driver's license. The wrong-way driver, who died in the crash, reportedly had a pending drug-related criminal matter, and police claim to have found drug paraphernalia at the accident scene. Under current state law, there most likely would have been no cause to suspend his license as part of his criminal case. Whether or not license suspension in such a situation would improve driving safety is a matter of debate.
The accident occurred on Route 105 in Middleboro at about 6:30 p.m. on the Fourth of July. A pickup truck reportedly traveling the wrong way at eighty-seven miles per hour, hit a utility pole and multiple orange construction barrels before colliding head-on with a Ford Focus. The driver of the pickup truck and the driver of the Focus were killed in the crash. Two passengers in the Focus, a 30 year-old woman and her five year-old son, were injured. Passers-by rescued the child from the Focus, but all three adults were trapped in the vehicles. Emergency crews used Jaws of Life to extract the woman. They evacuated her and her son by helicopter to the hospital.
The child, who suffered serious cuts to his head and neck, left the hospital on July 6, and is reportedly staying with relatives. His mother remained in the hospital as of July 19, where she remained in critical condition. According to news reports, she suffered broken legs and ankles, and a broken hip. Doctors have been unable to put her in a reclining position to perform surgery because of swelling in her brain.
The reason for the accident remains under investigation, but law enforcement has put its attention on the pickup truck driver's alleged drug history. The 27 year-old driver, according to investigators, had a pending criminal case for multiple drug possession. Police noted that he had citations for car accidents in 2002 and 2010. They also reported finding "a spoon and needles consistent with heroin" at the crash site. They are waiting for results of a toxicology report, which they say could take up to ninety days.
Massachusetts law allows the Registry of Motor Vehicles, in the event of a drug possession conviction, to suspend a driver's license for a maximum of five years. At the time of the accident, the pickup truck driver's case had not been resolved. A retired police officer who teaches criminal justice at a local university, quoted by the Enterprise News, said that the pending criminal case would not have merited a license suspension. The driver was allegedly caught with heroin and another drug in a parking lot. The professor says the state only could have suspended his license had police caught him while he in his vehicle. So far, no one has proposed any specific changes to Massachusetts driver's license laws or procedures as a result of this accident.
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