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DUI driver gets 12 years for cyclist's death

Motorists often fail to adequately maneuver around bicyclists, even in the most bike-friendly cities. These riders are vulnerable because they do not have the protection provided by the frame of a vehicle. As a result, drivers need to pay special attention to make sure everyone who uses the road is safe. One South Florida man has found out the hard way that he should have been more cognizant of his surroundings after he was convicted in connection with a hit-and-run crash. The driver, age 32, struck and killed a cyclist during a January 2010 car accident. He will spend 12 years in custody for his crime.

Authorities report the driver struck a 44-year-old cyclist who was correctly using the bicycle lane. The motorist, whose blood alcohol level measured at 0.122 percent, dragged the victim's bike for nearly three miles after striking the decedent. He was charged with resisting arrest, along with DUI manslaughter and leaving the scene of an accident. The defendant had pleaded guilty to those charges in February in connection with the crash, which occurred on the Rickenbacker Causeway in Key Biscayne.

Prosecutors in the case say the sentence provides some emotional relief for the victim's family members, who have been waiting for three years for resolution to their relative's death. The decedents' family members reside in France. In addition, the man admitted that the crash was not an accident, but rather an incident that he caused because of his poor decision-making.

Not only will the man serve the 12-year prison term, he is also slated to spend two years' time on community control with an additional eight years of probation. The defense plans to appeal, calling the sentence unjust for the crime. Defense attorneys cite cases in which other defendants have been sentenced to shorter terms for the same crimes. It is not yet clear whether family members intend to file a civil suit in the matter.

Source: www.nbcmiami.com, "Judge sentences Carlos Bertonatti to 12 years in prison in fatal DUI hit-and-run crash with cyclist" Betty Yu & Brian Hamacher, Sep. 12, 2013

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