Panama City Beach Police Officer Struck by Alleged Drunk Driver

Finebloom, Haenel & Higgins

Early on the morning of March 23, 2014, Panama City police officer Ronald Crowson was assisting with an accident on Back Beach Roach in Panama City Beach when an alleged drunk driver struck him and another person.  Richard Allen Johns of Panama City Beach was driving the wrong way down the road when he struck the two people along with cars involved in an earlier accident and a tow truck.  Officer Crowson and Royce Kershaw of Destin were seriously injured in the crash.  Johns has been charged with a number of drunk driving crimes including DUI with property damage, DUI with personal injury and DUI with serious injury

For this incident, Johns has been charged with a felony for the DUI with a serious injury.  This is a third degree felony, meaning that he could get up to 5 years in prison and a $5000 fine.  For there to be a successful prosecution for DUI with a serious bodily injury, three things have to be proven.  One is that the person being charged was driving.  The second is that that person was drunk or otherwise impaired, such as is the case with illegal or legal drugs.  Third, the prosecution has to prove that this drinking and driving resulted in the serious bodily injury of another person.  By serious bodily injury, the law means that the injuries have to be severe enough where it could be life threatening, cause a permanent disability or cause impairment of loss of function of a body part or organ.

The charges for DUI with property damage and DUI with personal injury are also serious, but not as serious as the charge of DUI with Serious Bodily Injury.  These two crimes are misdemeanors and could have a sentence of up to a year in jail or a $1,000 fine.  For the personal injury aspect of this charge, a person must be injured as a result of someone else’s driving while they are impaired, although that injury doesn’t have to be a serious as for the felony charge.  As for the property damage charge, that can happen after even a minor accident, but is often a charge in serious accidents with costly property damage such as this one.

Johns could also face civil penalties for this accident, especially if he ends up being convicted or pleads guilty to a DUI related crime.  Depending on the severity of the injuries, Johns could be facing a heavy judgment against him for this accident.  Every case is different when it comes to the final outcome.  However, in a case with severe injuries, especially when the drive that caused the accident faces criminal charges for it, as is the case here, there could be a very high judgment or settlement in the case.