NEW ORLEANS - Students at Brother Martin High School in New Orleans got a eye opening glimpse into the potential consequences of drinking and driving during a mock trial staged in the school gymnasium.
The trial follows a mock car crash this past October at Clearview and veterans Boulevard in Metairie that left one student dead, two injured and a fourth accused of drunk driving and charged with vehicular homicide and first degree negligent injury.
the accused driver in this mock event -- 18-year-old McHenry Taylor -- faced charges for the death of his good friend and passenger -- Alex Atkinson -- and for the injuries suffered by two classmates in another car. Nick Bohte is now paralyzed and John West suffered serious injuries in the mock crash.
Attorney David Bravo represented Taylor in the mock trial. Assistant Jefferson Parish District Attorney Norma Broussard represented the state. And Judge Rebecca Olivier of First Parish Court in Jefferson Parish presided over the trial.
Testimony and evidence in the mock trial revealed that Taylor had been driving with a blood alcohol level of .05 -- meaning he was legally intoxicated under Louisiana law. In Louisiana, a driver who is under 21 is considered intoxicated if he has blood-alcohol level above .02. Drivers over 21 are considered legally intoxicated when they have a blood alcohol level of .08 or above.
In addition, to his alcohol level, Taylor admitted taking a vicodin that night. Louisiana law says a driver can be considered legally impaired due to medication and drugs as well as alcohol.
the mock trial pointed out that the crash cut Atkinson's life short, and forever altered Bohte's life due to his paralysis.
The jury of 12 students at Brother Martin found Taylor guilty of vehicular homicide and first degree negligent injury.
Judge Olivier sentenced him to 15 years in prison for the homicide and five years in prison for the negligent injury. And she ordered the sentences served consecutively, meaning Taylor faces 20 years in prison.
Bridget Gardner of the LSU Interim Hospital, the Louisiana Passenger Safety Task Force Program Director, organized the mock crash and trial along with the Louisiana State Police. The program is called "Sudden Impact."
It aims to show students the horrifying lifelong consequences that can come from one bad decision of driving while impaired.