Jefferson City, Missouri Police Officer Charged with DWI, C&I, and Hit & Run After Accident

Columbia, Missouri car accident attorneys have extensive experience assisting victims of all kinds of accidents. At this time of year, unfortunately, we typically hear a great deal about drunk driving accidents. Statistics have shown that the holiday season, with all its celebrations, is one of the deadliest times of year for auto fatalities. Thankfully, Missouri law enforcement professionals and advocate groups have kept up continual efforts to make our roadways safe for holiday travel.

1156122_another_beer.jpgHowever, a recent Jefferson City accident that involved both drunk driving and hit and run offenses was caused by an off-duty police officer. Rachael Barnard was arrested on October 24 after a witness reported seeing her back out of her driveway, strike another vehicle, and continue to drive away. When police responded to the call, they discovered Barnard in her house. Her sport utility vehicle was later found not far from her home. Authorities observed "stick tights" on her jeans, and now believe that Barnard deliberately abandoned her SUV and walked home through a wooded area.

Barnard responded to questions about the accident by saying that she had been wearing her seatbelt and that she wasn't injured. When officers observed signs that Barnard had been drinking, they asked her to take a field sobriety test, which she refused. Instead, she agreed to a breathalyzer, which indicated that her blood alcohol content was 0.20%, over twice the legal limit of 0.08%..

Luckily, no one was hurt in this accident, and the vehicles involved only sustained minor damage. In this case, all of the consequences are Barnard's: she has since been charged with driving while intoxicated, leaving the scene of an accident, and careless and imprudent driving. She will appear in court on January 20 to answer those charges. Additionally, last week, a spokesperson for the Jefferson City Police Department announced that Barnard is no longer employed there.

Unfortunately, many DWI accidents don't quite work out this way:

  • In 2008 in Missouri, there were 277 fatal accidents where at least one driver had a BAC of 0.08% or above.
  • In 2009, nationwide, 10,839 people died in alcohol related accidents. This means that DWI-caused deaths made up 32% of all traffic deaths. 254,000 people were injured in accidents caused by alcohol.
  • In 2009, nationwide,181 children aged 14 and younger died as the result of drunk driving accidents. 51% of those children were passengers in vehicles driven by drunk drivers. Another 15% were pedestrians who were struck by impaired drivers.

It's important to remember that in many cases, the fatality in the accident isn't the drunk driver, but rather an innocent motorist, passenger or pedestrian who is simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. The Jefferson City auto accident lawyers urge you to take this matter seriously, especially during the holiday season: if you drink, don't drive. If you see a friend or family member attempting to drive while impaired, take their keys. You could be saving someone's life.

Dealing with the aftermath of a drunk driving accident can be overwhelming. If you're injured in such an accident, we advise that you contact an attorney sooner rather than later: make sure your rights and interests are protected. If you have questions about an injury claim, please call our office at 1-888-777-AUTO.

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