Family questions why DUI offender wasn’t arrested at crash scene

OKLAHOMA CITY -- A former Oklahoma police officer was taken into custody following an alleged drunk driving crash that left one man severely injured.

According to a report, former Ada police officer Adam Vanlandingham made an improper left turn into the wrong lane, causing Jerome Carter to hit him.

As a result of the crash, Carter was left with brain trauma, broken bones and bruised lungs.

Although they are praying for Jerome's recovery, his family is also left with questions regarding the crash that left their loved one in the hospital.

According to court documents, troopers with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol reported smelling alcohol on Vanlandingham's breath at the crash scene.

The report states that he admitted to having six to seven beers earlier in the day, but did not think he was heavily intoxicated.

"Why was he not arrested that day?" said Larzara Gonzalez, Carter's friend.

Several days later, an arrest warrant was issued for Vanlandingham. However, troopers say it's a situation that is very common.

“It is not uncommon for us to see a drug impaired driver on the scene and not place that drug impaired driver into custody immediately,” said Oklahoma Highway Patrol Captain Ronnie Hampton.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol said it all depends on where that DUI offense took place.

“Oklahoma and Tulsa County are very unique compared to the other 75 counties. In the other 75 counties, a person arrested by a law enforcement officer without a warrant will generally go see the judge the very next business day,” said Hampton.

Hampton oversees the OHP Homicide Division. He said unlike Oklahoma and Tulsa counties, police in rural counties can only hold an inmate for 48 hours.

“Had we booked him into jail, had he went in front of the judge the very next day and the judge says, 'How do you plead?' And he says, 'I plead guilty to the crime of DUI.' Then at that point, if our victim would have died two days later, that is all the punishment that he would have gotten is for DUI,” said Hampton.

“Any criminal defense attorney would say go enter a plea to the DUI charge immediately and limit your liability on potentially having a higher charge later,” said DUI attorney John Hunsucker.

Hunsucker said accused DUI offenders also have rights. In cases like this, prosecutors wouldn't be able to upgrade charges after a defendant has already pleaded guilty.

Vanlandingham is charged with a DUI that caused greater bodily injury.

“The crime arises from an act; you can`t charge somebody with multiple crimes for one act,” said Hunsucker.

Hampton said 48 hours is not enough time to collect evidence like blood samples and toxicology reports. Evidence that would be needed in a manslaughter or murder case.

In this case, had they arrested Vanlandingham the night of the crash, he wouldn't have faced a more serious charge.

“This guy has a previous DUI and somebody would have died out of that car wreck that's a second-degree murder case. This person could be facing no less than 10 years and no more than life in prison,” said Hampton.