Our criminal defense law firm represents individuals arrested and charged with drunk driving in Pennsylvania (DUI) and New Jersey (DWI). We often use examples from the news and headlines of individuals charged and convicted of drunk driving to illustrate points of defense. While Britt Reid is not necessarily a celebrity, for the right reasons, he is the son of former Philadelphia Eagles and current Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl Winning coach, Andy Reid. Reid spent 14 years in Philadelphia as its head coach, taking the team to Super Bowl. He is regarded as the best coach in the team’s 90 year history. Despite Reid’s coaching record, his sons have sadly made headlines off the field. Reid’s oldest son, Garrett, died of a heroin overdose on August 5, 2012 and now, it is likely, that his other son, Britt, will serve time in state prison for a drunk driving incident.
Britt Reid is 37 years old, a former assistant football coach on his father’s NFL staff, and is expected to plead guilty to a felony drunk driving charge following an incident in 2021 where a multi-vehicle car crash severely injured a 5-year-old passenger in Jackson County, Missouri, in February 2021
This is not Reid’s first offense, and he has previous convictions in Pennsylvania (Montgomery County) for drunk driving in 2007, along with simple assault and an unlawful possession of a firearm (no permit to carry). While Reid recently received probation for the unlawful firearm’s charge in 2007, he apparently served at least one month of county incarceration for his drunk driving charge in 2008. While the drunk driving charge was graded as a misdemeanor and the unlawful gun charge was a felony of the third degree, the sentencing Judge more than likely took in to account his previous firearm’s conviction when he sentenced on the drunk driving charge.
How serious is the criminal charge against Britt Reid? Will he go to prison?
Reid now faces a Class D felony in Missouri where the maximum punishment is seven (7) years of State incarceration. This is similar to a felony of third degree in Pennsylvania. It is a guilty plea, and I would not expect Reid to serve anywhere close to the maximum sentence, but it is likely that he will receive some type of incarceration. While the Judge in Missouri could sentence him to probation, it is unlikely based on Missouri’s sentencing guidelines for an individual such as Reid who has prior felony convictions and a prior drunk driving charge.
While these previous convictions in Pennsylvania are nearly 15 years old, the prosecution will likely argue that they are evidence which the Court should use to sentence in accordance with the recommended guidelines which call for prison. It is unknown if the prosecution and defense have negotiated a plea, but Missouri’s drunk driving laws for this crime do not contain any mandatory minimum sentencing; unlike other criminal offenses.
How will the judge determine a sentence after Britt Reid plead guilty?
The prosecution will likely request a State prison sentence if it has not already agreed to some other alternative with the defense. The Judge, however, is not bound by any agreements between the prosecution and the defense and can sentence Reid to the maximum punishment for this Class D felony. If, however, the prosecution and the defense have negotiated a recommended sentence, the Judge would allow Reid to take back his plea and proceed to trial if the Court was not willing to approve the negotiated sentence; this is similar to Pennsylvania.
Like Pennsylvania, DWI in Missouri is a misdemeanor offense, but can be upgraded to a felony if the drunk driving charge involved injury or death. Here, the victim sustained substantial injury which will likely aggravate Reid’s sentence. I would expect for Reid to receive some type of State prison sentence (more than one year) or a long county jail sentence (less than a year).
Reid’s attorneys obviously recommended a plea as opposed to trial based on the overwhelming evidence. It is alleged that Reid was traveling approximately 83 miles an hour and his blood alcohol level was .113. The legal limit in Missouri, like Pennsylvania and New Jersey, is .08. Reid remains free on bond and the Judge will likely set a sentencing date and allow both the prosecution and defense to present Sentencing Memorandums prior to imposing sentence.
How do Pennsylvania and New Jersey address drunk driving cases where someone is seriously injured?
Pennsylvania – Aggravated Assault by Vehicle while DUI – 3735.1
Under the Pennsylvania traffic code (Title 75), any person who negligently causes serious bodily injury to another as the result of a violation of section 3802 commits a felony of the 2nd degree. Unlike homicide by DUI there is no mandatory minimum sentence for this felony offense.
In addition to DUI felony related offenses, there are also traffic offenses involving homicide and aggravated assault which are graded as felony offenses in Pennsylvania. Under section 3732, a person is guilty of Homicide by Vehicle when he or she recklessly, or with gross negligence, causes the death of another person while in operation or in use of a vehicle. This offense is graded as a felony of the 3rd degree (7 year max) and there is no mandatory minimum associated with this offense. Under section 3732.1, a person is guilty of aggravated assault by vehicle when this person recklessly, or with gross negligence, causes serious bodily injury to another person while engaged in the operation of a motor vehicle. This is also graded as a felony of the 3rd degree and carries with it no mandatory minimum sentencing.
New Jersey – Assault 2C: 12-1(c)(2) & Death by Auto 2C:11-5 while DWI
Unlike Pennsylvania and Missouir, drunk driving is a traffic offense in New Jersey. It, however, elevates to an indictable crime in the Garden State when it occurs and results in seriously bodily injury or death. Assault by Auto while DWI is a crime of the 3rd degree in New Jersey under 2C: 12-1(c)(2) and is a crime of the 2nd degree if serious bodily injury occurs as a result of the incident while DUI (New Jersey DWI statute RS 39:4-50).
In the Garden State an Aggravated Assault by vehicle (non DWI) is committed when a person recklessly causes serious bodily injury to another person. It is a crime of the 4th degree if serious bodily injury occurs but it is only a disorderly person’s offense (non-indictable) if the prosecution can only establish bodily injury. One important point to keep in mind is that a person who is operating a hand-held device at the time of the incident allows the court to draw an inference that the person was driving recklessly.
Death by Auto in New Jersey (2C:11-5) is committed when a person causes the death of another by driving recklessly and is a crime of the 2nd degree. Death by Auto (aka Vehicular Homicide) is a crime of the 1st degree where the person is DWI or under the influence of some narcotic or other drug. Death by Auto while DWI in Jersey, like Pennsylvania, carries with it a 3 year mandatory minimum state prison sentence.
For more information on drunk driving in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, I encourage you to keep reading my blog and visit my free download section.
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