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Sissy-in-Calif

Out-of-State Trainee Truck Driver Offered Plea Deal for Vehicular Manslaughter -- Permanent License Revocation

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I live in California and so does my friend, "Sally'" and her husband, "Jim". This is regarding Jim. Jim recently went to a truck driving school ran by a major transportation company. After he got his commercial license, he was expected to drive for the company for one year as a trainee in lieu of paying tuition – supposedly, he was to be accompanied by a more experienced driver on cross country trips and share driving duty. 

 

Jim was gone from home for several weeks during his first job on the road with the trainer. But then only 6 weeks into his training, he had to drive alone because the trainer was sick. He was driving the huge big rig down a steep incline in Idaho, going approx. 5 mph over the speed limit, when his brakes starting to get hot and were smoking. He drove past several (4-5) runaway truck ramps that could have stopped the truck; I don't know why he didn't use one of them.  When he got to the bottom of the incline, there was an intersection with a stop sign; but he was not able to stop for it. His big rig struck the driver-side of a small car, instantly killing the other driver. 

 

No drugs, alcohol or distraction was involved, just an inexperienced trainee truck driver; who, in my opinion, shouldn’t have been driving a big rig alone yet. 

 

Jim was charged with vehicular manslaughter. The trucking company got him a lawyer and has been paying his airfare for court appearances in Idaho. During his last court appearance, he was offered a deal: permanent revocation of his driver’s license.

 

Jim is not a US citizen, but he has a green card to work here. He has an American-born wife and they are expecting their 3rd child next month. He is a good husband and a good person. He probably would’ve been a better truck driver with more training and could’ve better supported his family.

 

I know a life was lost due to Jim's actions and he is deeply remorseful. But the punishment seems excessive considering the circumstances. Without a driver's license, not only is Jim’s dream of being a truck driver over, but his ability to support his family will be severely limited without a license to drive.  Can a judge in Idaho revoke a California driver's license forever? I thought permanent driver's license revocation was for DUI's, criminal negligence or reckless driving. Is this an appropriate punishment?

 

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What does his attorney say?

You realize that vehicular  manslaughter is a more serious violation than DUI, or reckless  driving, and is more along the lines of criminal negligence?

and yes, a permanent license revocation in Idaho, will be recognized in other states.

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14 hours ago, Sissy-in-Calif said:

the punishment seems excessive considering the circumstances.

 

Perhaps it seems excessive to someone, such as you, who is personally biased toward this man, but it certainly doesn't seem excessive to me, an objective observer.  In fact, since your post implies that the offer does not include any jail/prison time or any fine, I'd say he'd be getting off rather light.  Of course, as "RetiredinVA" correctly noted, the opinions of anonymous strangers on the internet don't matter.

 

 

14 hours ago, Sissy-in-Calif said:

Without a driver's license, not only is Jim’s dream of being a truck driver over

 

I wonder what dreams the victim of this crime and his/her family had that are now over.

 

 

14 hours ago, Sissy-in-Calif said:

his ability to support his family will be severely limited without a license to drive.

 

So...Jim will have to seek other employment -- something that the person he killed cannot do.

 

 

14 hours ago, Sissy-in-Calif said:

Can a judge in Idaho revoke a California driver's license forever?

 

No, but a judge in Idaho can revoke Jim's privilege to drive in Idaho, and the California DMV would honor that revocation.

 

 

14 hours ago, Sissy-in-Calif said:

I thought permanent driver's license revocation was for DUI's, criminal negligence or reckless driving.

 

Ummm...what do you think vehicular manslaughter is if not "criminal negligence"?  In any event, I find it a little odd that you (a resident of California) had ever given any thought to the penalties for vehicular manslaughter under Idaho law.  I'm curious why you thought this?  In any event, you can read Idaho's manslaughter law here.

 

 

14 hours ago, Sissy-in-Calif said:

Is this an appropriate punishment?

 

Yes.  See Idaho Statutes, section 18-4007 (providing that vehicular manslaughter may be punished various combinations of imprisonment and fines, in addition to suspension of "the driver's license of any person convicted of [vehicular manslaughter] . . . for a time determined by the court").  Keep in mind also that what you've described is an offer for a plea bargain.  Jim is free to accept the offer, or reject it and take his chances at trial, or propose a counteroffer, and he needs to have a lengthy conversation with his attorney about this.

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I want to reiterate that everyone involved in this incident is greatly aware that a man lost his life and nothing but our most sincere condolences have been offered. Nothing can bring 14him back.  He was an innocent who was at the wrong place at the wrong time; but apparently there may have been some inattention to driving on his part that limited his ability to take some actions or avoid some actions that could have contributed to his demise. And as such, my friend’s husband, Jim was offered a plea deal - that I think is harsh considering the circumstances; but because a life was lost and Jim is very remorseful, he is accepting whatever sentence he is handed.  I am the one who is seeing things that don't seem right and asking the questions.

 

In reply to Doucar, who states:

Quote

“You realize that vehicular manslaughter is a more serious violation than DUI, or reckless driving, and is more along the lines of criminal negligence?…”

 

Actually, there are three types of vehicular manslaughter in Idaho – felony vehicular manslaughter,  driving while intoxicated (DUI) and misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter (I would think driving 5 MPH over the speed limit would be a misd.).  Felony vehicular manslaughter is punishable by 10 yrs imprisonment and/or $10k fine; DUI vehicular manslaughter is punishable by 15 years and/or a $15k fine; and misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter is punishable by 1 yr imprisonment and/or $2k fine.  So Jim would be looking at a maximum of 1 yr of jail time and/or a $2k fine and probable deportation and separation from his family vs. the plea deal offered which is a lifetime revocation of driving privileges for a person just beginning his career as a truck driver – a trainee driver that was obviously not ready to be driving alone yet.

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16 hours ago, Sissy-in-Calif said:

So Jim would be looking at a maximum of 1 yr of jail time and/or a $2k fine and probable deportation and separation from his family vs. the plea deal offered which is a lifetime revocation of driving privileges for a person just beginning his career as a truck driver – a trainee driver that was obviously not ready to be driving alone yet.

 

 

And Jim is perfectly able to reject the plea deal and take his chances. 

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