In the fall of 2011, Bucks County resident, Brett Truskin, back on the road driving his RAV4 after being arrested for causing a three-car pileup on I-95 when he hit Gregory Loper head on. He then crashed into four parked cars and one occupied car, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Loper was riding a bicycle and was killed.
Truskin's attorney stated that Truskin had a heroin problem and had used before the accident, reports the Inquirer. Truskin already pleaded guilty to simple assault for hitting the occupied car, and was remorseful in his apology to the Loper family. Part of Truskin's plea deal was agreeing to the maximum sentence.
What was the benefit of Truskin's plea deal?
In Pennsylvania, as in many states, it is illegal to drive under the influence of any controlled substance. There is no requirement that there be any certain level of drug, there must only be evidence that it was in your system. Refusing a test won't help you here either because you are subject to the same penalties as if you were found to have the drug in your system.
Sentencing guidelines for Pennsylvania put the maximum for harming someone while driving under the influence at five years. The maximum sentence for homicide by vehicle is also five years.
Here, it seems like Truskin probably pled guilty to these and others and took the maximum sentence for the homicide and DUI charges in part to avoid a sentencing hearing, which would include victim impact statements. Since he and his attorney have been forthcoming, it seems as though the 23-year-old is trying to turn his life around with this sentence.
While Brett Truskin's plea deal helped him avoid hearing the Loper family's grief, but not much else, Gregory Loper's 9 children will miss him dearly. Hopefully his memory will remind others to take care when they drive and this won't become just another DUI bicyclist death.