71-Year-Old Minnesota Man Sentenced In Fatal Drunk Driving Crash

Friday, 28. June 2013

CC image on Flickr from www.StockMonkeys.comA 71-year-old Hibbing man was sentenced earlier this week for his role in a drunk driving accident that claimed the life of a 78-year-old man from Princeton, Minnesota.

Lyle Elmer White was sentenced to one year in the Itasca County Jail for fatally hitting Eugene Paul Zeroth with his truck last September. In addition to jail time, White must also serve 10 years of supervised probation. Under his probation guidelines, White must:

  • Subject to random alcohol and drug tests;
  • Refrain from being in the presence of anyone using drugs or alcohol;
  • Undergo a diagnostic assessment, chemical dependency evaluation, and cognitive skill training;
  • Refrain from driving unless properly licensed and insured;
  • Remain law-abiding and not have any similar offenses;

According to court documents, White was given the option to serve six months in jail and six additional months on an electronic home monitoring system at his own expense, or serve a full year in jail. He opted for a full year in jail, saying his decision would help him “avoid financial constraints.”

White received the probation sentence in lieu of a 57-month stayed sentence. If he violates his probation, White will be forced to spend an additional 57 months behind bars. He was officially found guilty of one count of vehicular homicide.

Looking at the Incident

A look at the criminal complaint shows that both White and Zeroth made some poor decisions on the day of the accident. According to the report, Zeroth was operating his power scooter in the middle of the road when he was struck by a pickup truck driven by White. Zeroth was pronounced dead at the scene.

Authorities on the scene said White did not appear intoxicated, but a urine sample later showed he had a blood alcohol content of .09 nearly three hours after the accident.

Airbag data didn’t help White’s case either. His airbag control module recorded his truck traveling 66 mph at the time of impact. The accident occurred in a 45 mph zone.

Accepting Responsibility 

As any lawyer will tell you, it is important to show the judge that you accept responsibility for your actions. Judge Jon Maturi, who oversaw the case against White, wasn’t sure if the defendant accepted responsibility in the immediate aftermath of the accident. In his ruling, Maturi said he hoped White recognized  “the seriousness of what happened.”

“I think he does, to some extent, accept responsibility,” the judge concluded.

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Avery Appelman is a criminal defense lawyer and the founder of Appelman Law Firm. While his practice is primarily recognized for its work with DWI and related offenses, he has 16 years of experience working with clients on drug, assault, theft, traffic, criminal sexual conduct, and prostitution charges.

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