The Atlanta DUI News Blog

Trial Begins for Drunk Driver Who Killed Veteran Officer

Back in January of last year, Atlanta Police Senior Officer Gail Thomas was killed by a suspected drunk driver while directing traffic on I-75.

On Friday, Chastity Jones went to trial for the crime, South Cobb Patch reports. Jones is facing 13 counts, including DUI and homicide by vehicle in the first degree. She could spend up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

On January 24 of last year, Thomas was working to divert traffic away from a crash on Interstate 75/85 southbound at the Brookwood Interchange. Jones allegedly struck Thomas in her Honda Civic, killing the officer.

According to authorities, Jones blew a blood alcohol content of .16 percent at the scene of the accident. That's twice Georgia's legal limit of .08 percent. She also reportedly refused to submit to a blood test.

Homicide by vehicle is arguably the most serious DUI-related offense. Generally, a person who causes the death of another person while committing another driving offense can be charged with homicide by vehicle.

Driving offenses that can lead to a vehicular homicide charge include: DUI, driving recklessly, hit-and-run, failing to stop for a school bus, and fleeing from the police.

A conviction is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. While Jones will likely ask for leniency, prosecutors are expected to push for the maximum sentence.

Just last week, another Atlanta police officer became the victim of an alleged drunk driver. Officer Osbert Beckles suffered head and chest injuries as well as multiple broken bones when Scott Eugene Welker slammed his Hyundai into Beckles' patrol car. Welker is now facing a number of charges, including DUI and serious injury by vehicle.

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