On Jan. 30, a 19-year-old and her two friends were driving the wrong way on Interstate 97 and Route 50 in Davidsonville, Maryland. It was around 3:30 a.m. when the 19-year-old's Chrysler Sebring collided with another car, driven by a 55-year-old Severna Park man. All four died.
An autopsy determined that the 19-year-old driver -- as well as the 55-year-old driver -- was intoxicated. As is often the case when minors cause drunk driving accidents, police investigated to determine where the teen got the alcohol.
The following month, police charged the mother of one of the other teens who was killed with providing kegs to the teens on the night of the crash. The woman's 23-year-old son was also charged. If convicted, the two would have faced fines of up to $500.
However, a Maryland district court judge this week found the Severna Park woman and her son not guilty of providing alcohol to the teens on that tragic night. The judge determined that there was "no proof that either defendant were present or provided alcohol during the party."
During the trial, witnesses testified that they were at the defendants' home on that night and they paid the daughter who perished in the accident $5 to drink beer. They also testified that they saw the teen's mother and brother, but not much during the night.
A spokesperson on behalf of Anne Arundel County State's Attorney's Office said the testimony provided by the four witnesses did not match the statements given to police following the accident. A defense attorney representing the mother and son said no citations should have been issued in the first place.
Even though the mother and son were found not guilty in the criminal case against them, they could still face liability in a civil lawsuit brought by the families of the other victims who were killed in the accident. In civil cases, the burden of proof is lower.
Source: Maryland Gazette, "Family members acquitted of providing beer to teens in wrong-way fatal," Sara Blumberg, Oct. 25, 2012