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Former Northwestern student sentenced for fatal DUI crash

On March 10, a judge sentenced an Illinois man to four years probation for killing two people in a drunk driving crash. The first year of his probation also includes periodic imprisonment. The accident occurred on July 19, 2014.

After leaving a Naperville bar with two friends, the former college senior plowed his car into a quarry filled with water. He was able to exit the vehicle, but both of his friends were killed. Police said his blood alcohol content level was .14, or almost twice the legal limit, at the time of the crash. He also told authorities he smoked marijuana before the accident. In August 2015, he pleaded guilty to a single count of aggravated DUI causing death.

The man could have been sentenced to up to 28 years in prison, but the judge took into consideration his excellent academic record, character references from employers, teachers and friends and his remorse. The families of the two victims also spoke on his behalf. During his periodic imprisonment, he can only leave to attend school, work and community service, of which he must complete 200 hours.

A conviction on drunk driving charges can often result in imprisonment, with the person's chances for obtaining employment in the future severely reduced. As a result, people who are facing such charges may find it advisable to obtain the assistance of a DUI defense attorney in combating them. Possible defense strategies could include a challenge to field sobriety or breath tests as well as to the constitutionality of the traffic stop. In the event that it was a first offense, the attorney and the prosecutor might agree to lesser penalties such as community service and mandatory attendance at AA meetings.

Source: Daily North Western, "Michael Szot sentenced to one year periodic imprisonment, four years probation," Madeline Fox, March 10, 2016

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