On July 14th, Jane Modlesky got into the driver's seat of a 2008 Honda Pilot, and crashed into a tree, and died. Her blood-alcohol content was .27. Now two boys have been arrested and charged with misdemeanors in connection with her death, because they knew she was driving drunk.
Modlesky, a 17-year-old student at Glastonbury High School in Connecticut, had a BAC limit more than 13 times the state's .02 limit for those under 21. She was believed to be at a party into the early morning hours, when she got into the Honda, according to local news station WFSB:
The morning of the crash, Modlesky was inside the Honda Pilot, which was a parents' friends' vehicle, with four other male teenagers.
A male, who was 16 years old at the time, drove the Pilot to a residence in Glastonbury and dropped off one of the teenagers, police said. He then drove to his home and got out of the vehicle.
Another male, who was 16 years old at the time, drove to his home where he and another 17-year-old male got out of the Pilot.
Police said those two teenagers "were well aware that Jane Modlesky was highly intoxicated, however, despite knowing this, allowed her to operate the vehicle."
In case that's a little hard to follow, the two boys, drove themselves to their respective houses, with Jane in the passenger seat. When they got home, they left Jane to drive home herself in the Honda. Because they knew she was drunk, and they allowed her to get behind the wheel, the cops say they committed a crime.
One of the boys has been charged with reckless endangerment in the second degree, violation of passenger restrictions and operating a motor vehicle between 11 PM and 5 AM. the other was charged with violation of passenger restrictions and operating a motor vehicle between 11 PM and 5 AM.
We're in a bit of uncharted waters here, legally, so it's not exactly clear whether or not they'll be convicted. A lawyer interviewed by Yahoo! Shine certainly doesn't think so:
"This is a highly unusual situation," California attorney Lawrence Taylor, author of the law book "Drunk Driving Defense" and a former law professor, tells Yahoo Shine. "It's basically saying that they had a positive duty to stop her. But you cannot be prosecuted because you didn't stop someone from engaging in criminal conduct: If someone is holding a gun and is about to shoot it, and you don't pull it out of their hand, you cannot be held accountable. So I think the police are kind of overreaching here."
I'm no lawyer, so I can't say whether or not there's a likelihood that the two boys will be convicted. I'm not sure that what they did was illegal, but it does feel wrong. Often those are two different things. You should never, ever, under any circumstances, let anyone drive if you know they are intoxicated. It's like handing a loaded gun to someone who's suicidal.
On the other hand, should you be charged with something if you do?
Photo via Keith Allison