It’s certainly possible that Wilbur Bussey, Jr. wasn’t legally drunk when he drove his vehicle into oncoming traffic in Southern New Jersey. Whether he did or did not meet the legal definition of intoxication, there’s no doubt that after drinking, he drove and killed Richard Bonanno, 59, and seriously injured Jason Merighi, 21.
Merighi was hospitalized for more than seven weeks after Bussey, a 64-year-old Vineland man, caused the 2005 crash.
Bussey was recently convicted of vehicular homicide and aggravated assault in the case.
According to The Daily Journal, Cumberland County’s prosecutor said testimony at Bussey’s trial showed he had consumed enough alcohol to significantly diminish his ability to drive.
Two and a half hours after the crash, Bussey’s blood alcohol level was .06; in New Jersey, it is illegal to drive with a BAC of .08 or higher.
A biological psychologist who testified for the prosecution in the trial said Bussey’s BAC would have been between just below .08 and .11 at the time of the crash, making him “up to 20 times more likely to be involved in a fatal collision,” the expert testified.
Research shows that alcohol begins to impair people with the very first drink they consume.
- A BAC of .02 shows that people are already exhibiting loss of judgment, as well as a decline in visual functions.
- A BAC of .05 causes loss of small-muscle control (muscles that control the ability to focus quickly, for instance), reduced levels of alertness and impaired judgment.
- A BAC of .08 causes a diminishment of muscle coordination, affecting vision, reaction time and hearing. People have a reduced ability to detect danger and to react to it. Their memory, reasoning ability and judgment are all diminished.
All of this research and more can be used in personal injury cases against drivers who have been drinking alcohol and who cause crashes that resulting in injuries or deaths. The driver does not have to be guilty of DWI in order to be held liable for damage done to people and property while driving impaired.