In August 2009, Roberto Zepka and Elizabeth Manzanilla were on vacation in Florida from their home in North Carolina, but instead of relaxation and enjoyment, the family experienced tragedy at the hands of an allegedly drunk driver who killed their 2 year old daughter and seriously injured their 11 year old son.
Prosecutors say John Molnar, 38, was driving drunk when he slammed into the family’s rental car causing the wrongful death and serious injury of the two young children. Molnar has a history of speeding and drinking. In December 1999, Molnar pleaded no contest to charges of disorderly intoxication and resisting an officer. Molnar’s blood-alcohol level, according to authorities, measured 0.133 and 0.129 percent, significantly over Florida’s legal limit of .08.
Molnar was on his way home when his Cadillac hit a the family’s rented car. Isabella, who was riding in a car seat in the rear, was killed.
According to records, Molnar, failed field-sobriety exercises.The Florida Highway Patrol trooper at the scene thought Molnar appeared to under the influence, unable to stand without swaying, staggering, red eyed, speech speech and the smell of alcohol on his breath. Molnar admitted to having drunk one Yuengling beer at a friend’s house.
Recently, the family returned to Orlando, on what was supposed to be the day John Molnar plead guilty. Instead, Molnar changed his mind and elected to go trial rather than plea guilty, which was set for May of next year.
Understandably, the frustrated family expressed their opinions as to what they wanted the judge to do to Molnar. “This guy, he doesn’t have an idea of what he did to the whole family, to the life of my children,” said Manzanilla.
This type of case illustrates the all too common tragedy of DUI. Drivers, often times with a history of DUI or other offenses involving alcohol, can’t resist the opportunity to get behind the wheel rather than call a cab. In addition to the criminal penalties, which could involve substantial jail terms, drunk drivers are exposed to civil liability, which includes punitive damages as well as compensatory or actual damages. Frequently, punitive damages far outweigh the actual damages awarded by a jury in a personal injury case.Juries want to send drunk divers a lesson.
With over 50 years of collective service to the South Florida community, the Hollywood, Florida, personal injury lawyers at The Ben Law Firm have helped thousands of clients to obtain money compensation for their personal injury and wrongful death claims
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