A Pennsylvania State Police trooper who caused a crash that killed a 21-year-old woman has been charged with homicide by vehicle while under the influence, DUI, careless driving and reckless driving. The car accident happened last month while the trooper was off duty.

According to a police report, it was about 10 p.m. one night last month when the man was driving his personal pickup truck along the Pennsylvania Turnpike near Upper Dublin. He suddenly rear-ended a Lincoln Town Car, causing it to burst into flames. The sedan’s driver and sole occupant, a young woman from North Philadelphia, died at the scene from multiple blunt force injuries, thermal burns and smoke inhalation, according to an autopsy.

The pickup truck’s driver was given a field sobriety test and later taken into custody on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. He was required to turn in his gun and badge and has been assigned to administrative duties since the investigation began.

The fact that the person accused of causing the accident is a law enforcement officer should have little bearing on the outcome of his criminal case. Police officers are just as capable of making mistakes as other drivers are, and unfortunately, this trooper isn’t the first to be accused of causing death or injury while under the influence of alcohol. Back in February, for example, a state trooper based in Allegheny County was charged with homicide by vehicle, DUI and other offenses after his truck collided with an oncoming car, killing its driver. Police said he admitted to drinking before the crash, and that his blood alcohol level registered above the legal driving limit.

If the trooper in the most recent crash is in fact convicted, it could affect the outcome of a civil wrongful death lawsuit, should the victim’s family decide to file one. Even though the defendant has been a police trooper for 11 years, the victim’s family has every right to seek compensation for their loss.

Source: The Daily Times, “Off-duty state trooper faces charges in fatal DUI accident,” June 25, 2012