Mardi Gras is a festival that draws tourists and locals alike. Recent estimates place the number of attendees for the festival in New Orleans at roughly one million. Mardi Gras can be aptly described as a party festival, and though historically associated with elegant balls, it has now come to be associated with all manner of drunken revelry. Sadly, this “party” atmosphere can lead to accidents, particularly drunk driving accidents. This past Saturday night, March 2, during Mardi Gras festivities in New Orleans, Tashonty Toney — the son of a New Orleans police officer — was arrested and charged with a number of criminal violations, including driving while intoxicated, reckless operation, hit and run, and vehicular homicide. Earlier that evening, at around 8:00PM, Tashonty swerved into a bike lane and drove for several blocks, smashing into nine bystanders and cyclists, which killed two people and injured seven others. Tashonty did not exit his vehicle after the accident and instead chose to flee the scene. According to witness accounts reported by the media, Tashonty looked “trashed” when he finally stopped his car and fell out onto the sidewalk. Witnesses noted that he fell asleep on the sidewalk, likely due to his intoxication. When officers came to arrest Tashonty, he refused the breathalyzer test but admitted that he had a drinking problem. We are pained to hear about this tragedy and hope that the injured make a full and speedy recovery. We wish the friends and families of the deceased the best and offer our deepest condolences.
Criminal Liability in a Drunk Driving Accident is Not Necessarily Straightforward
Those who have been accused of a crime, arrested, or charged with drunk driving (and related misconduct) may be feeling panicked at the prospect of going through criminal litigation. The stakes are high, and especially so if you caused others to suffer serious or fatal injuries. You could be facing a significant term of imprisonment. Drunk driving cases can be a challenge to defend, but depending on the circumstances, it may be possible to avoid (or at least limit) criminal liability through skilled arguments. There are a variety of defenses to drunk driving, such as involuntary intoxication, non-intoxication, and more. For example, if the arresting officers gave you a field sobriety test and, on that basis, they determined that you were intoxicated, you may be able to undermine the result by showing how the test results are inaccurate. You might be able to show that the officers did not follow correct procedures for giving the test, and therefore undermine the legitimacy of their findings. Certain circumstances may make the defense more difficult. In the present case, Tashonty fled the scene of the accident. Not only does a hit and run give rise to a separate criminal violation, but it may also undermine one’s efforts to avoid liability for the accident that sits at the core of the dispute. Tashonty also admitted (to the arresting officers) that he had a drinking problem. If you’re being arrested for drunk driving, it’s important that you cooperate, but that you do not offer any admissions of fault until you have consulted with a qualified attorney. Admissions of fault are likely to be used to undermine your defense at trial.
Contact an Experienced New Orleans Criminal Defense Attorney at Bloom Legal for Guidance
If you’ve been arrested or charged with drunk driving (or any other criminal violation) due to purported misconduct during Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans, we can help. We encourage you to contact our firm for immediate assistance. Bloom Legal is a full-service law firm founded in 2004, and currently located in the historic Warehouse District of New Orleans. Our attorneys have extensive experience advocating on behalf of defendants (locals and tourists alike) in a range of criminal disputes, including those that center around a drunk driving accident. Call 504-599-9997 or contact us online to schedule a free and confidential consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney at our firm today.