The stakes are high in the Jim Leyritz trial. The former New York Yankees baseball player is facing driving under the influence manslaughter charges over a fatal Fort Lauderdale crash in December of 2007.

CNN reports that Leyritz’s Ford Expedition collided in an intersection with a car driven by 30-year-old Fredia Ann Veitch. The question to be decided at trial: Who had the green light?

Leyritz insists he did. “I was not at all responsible for the accident or her death. She went through the light. She hit me,” he told a newspaper in 2008. At least one witness says Leyritz’s light was red or amber at that moment.

Excluded Evidence

The judge in the trial won’t allow the defense to present evidence showing that the 30-year-old woman had a higher blood alcohol content than Leyritz (she had a .16; he tested at .14), that she may have been texting around the time of the accident and that she wasn’t wearing a seat belt.

Conventional wisdom says that celebrities get special treatment in our criminal justice system, often walking away from serious criminal charges the average citizen would be punished for. However, in the Leyritz case, his celebrity might work against him considering the politicized nature of DUI charges.

Make no mistake: Drunk drivers pose a risk to themselves, passengers and other motorists. But there’s little doubt that drunk driving has become something of a political ladder politicians hope to climb by constantly calling for increased penalties on all offenders.

Facing Years in Prison

If convicted, Leyritz faces a sentence ranging from a minimum of four years in prison, up to 15 years.

The divorced Leyritz is raising his three sons as a single father, so the outcome of the trial could hardly be more important to him and his family.

In every DUI manslaughter case, no matter who is on trial, the stakes are high. An experienced Miami criminal defense attorney understands that and puts everything into each case. Contact a criminal defense lawyer to begin the process of defending your right to a fair trial.

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