Martin Kingori faces life in prison after a fatal crash that occurred at about 2:00 a.m. last Sunday morning.
The wreck occurred on FM 1960. Kingori was headed westbound in his SUV. Police report that he attempted to make a U-turn, causing a collision with a car driven by Sergio Rivera that was headed in the opposite direction. Apparently, Rivera’s airbags failed and he was killed.
Authorities allege that, after the crash, it was determined that Kingori had his four-year-old daughter in the SUV, and that she was neither in a car seat nor wearing a seat belt. Thankfully, she received only minor injuries. Police further indicate that Kingori had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.17; the legal limit is 0.08.
Intoxication manslaughter-the customary charge when an intoxicated driver causes a fatal collision-is a second degree felony, which has a punishment range of 2 to 20 years in prison. In addition, driving while intoxicated with a child in the car is a felony. Accordingly, under the law, prosecutors can “enhance” the charge of intoxicated manslaughter up to a first degree felony because it occurred during the commission of a felony (viz., driving intoxicated with a child in the vehicle). Because of this, Kingori faces the punishment range for a first degree felony, which reaches up to life in prison.
The terrible and unnecessary death of Rivera, plus the severe punishment Kingori now faces, could have been easily avoided had Kingori simply called a taxi or used a designated driver. Of course, he also could have refused to drink unless and until he had made arrangements to get home safely.