Two months after trying to flee a beating and then running over and killing a man with his truck, a driver was charged with Duval County DUI in the crash. Brian Patterson was arrested on a Jacksonville DUI charge last month after tests showed he had a blood-alcohol level of .127, above the legal limit of .08, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The man accused of beating Patterson at the time, Greg Johnson, was charged with murder for his role in the death of Taylor Evans, the newspaper reported in August. Johnson has pleaded not guilty to murder and faces up to life in prison. There have been various stories as to what happened Aug. 10 at the Jacksonville Landing, but police have determined, according to the newspaper, that a brawl ensued and Patterson was chased to his car and was being hit by Johnson even as he tried to leave. Police said Evans was also involved and was pounding on the hood of Johnson's truck when he fell off and was run over, the newspaper reported. Other witnesses have said Evans was not involved in the fight and was simply walking with a friend to her car when he was struck, the newspaper reported.
Police did not identify the driver before Patterson was arrested in Jacksonville. It is very telling that Patterson was charged simply with Jacksonville driving under the influence, a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a $500 fine. There are certainly more severe charges that Patterson technically could have faced - namely Jacksonville DUI manslaughter and leaving the scene, a Florida first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison. But the state had already made its decision on who was at fault in Evans' death - Johnson and not Patterson. First of all, the state would have a hard time charging both men with what are essentially murder charges. Either Johnson's driving or Patterson's beating caused the death and the state would have an incredibly difficult time proving both. The notion that Patterson was leaving because he was scared makes it even tougher to charge him with leaving the scene of an accident in Jacksonville. If he was leaving to escape, he sure wasn't going to come back on his own - even if it was to help Evans.
It will be interesting to see if the state tries to hold Patterson to a different standard on misdemeanor DUI because there was a death involved. As a Jacksonville DUI Attorney, one would certainly hope not. If prosecutors could prove it then fine, charge him with a more severe crime, but don't pick a lesser crime and try to enforce more penalties as some sort of trade-off. Very rarely does anyone picked up on their first DUI spend any time in jail - other than the first night the person is arrested.
If you or a loved one needs a DUI attorney in Duval County or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a free consultation. Our Jacksonville DUI Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.