Accused drunken driver charged with causing fatal crash in Superior Township
Washtenaw County sheriff's officials say a driver's blood alcohol level was at more than twice the legal limit to be considered drunk when he caused a morning crash that killed a South Lyon man.
Robert Walter Bennett, 54, of Novi was arraigned this afternoon on charges that included operating while intoxicated causing death, operating with a high blood alcohol content, two counts of possessing a firearm under the influence and operating while intoxicated. Sheriff's Sgt. Dave Archer said Bennett's blood alcohol content was 0.19.
The crash occurred at 6:30 a.m. Oct. 31 at Ford and Plymouth roads in Superior Township. Bennett's 2008 Chevrolet Silverado exited M-14 and slammed into the back of a 2010 Ford Focus at a stoplight. Police estimated Bennett's vehicle was traveling 70 to 80 mph at the time.
The impact of the crash pushed the pickup over the Focus and onto a Chevy HHR, and then it swung back onto the Focus, Archer said.
The driver of the Focus, 57-year-old Donald R. DiNatale of South Lyon, was pronounced dead at the scene. He was on the way to Oakwood Hospital, where he worked.
Archer said Bennett had a valid license to carry a concealed weapon and had two firearms in his vehicle. It's illegal to possess firearms under the influence of alcohol.
Bennett's crash occurred on the first day new penalties for drivers whose blood alcohol level is 0.17 or above went into effect. The new penalties include a maximum of 180 days in jail, fines from $200 to $700, a one-year license suspension and a mandatory alcohol treatment program or self-help program for at least one year.
Magistrate Thomas Truesdell set bond for Bennett at $5,000 cash surety. He will return to court for a preliminary hearing Dec. 14.
More than a dozen of DiNatale's family members, friends and coworkers attended today's arraignment.
AnnArbor.com's Lee Higgins contributed to this report.