PITTSFIELD -- A 54-year-old man was sentenced to serve up to seven years in state prison for an October 2010 crash on South Street that claimed the life of a 25-year-old man and severely injured a young woman.

A Berkshire Superior Court jury on Monday found Douglas F. Guinan guilty of felony charges of vehicular homicide while under the influence of alcohol and driving under the influence to endanger causing serious bodily injury.

On Oct. 23, 2010, Guinan was driving along South Street when his vehicle crossed the center line and struck an oncoming vehicle head-on.

Michael Ashline, a 25-year-old passenger in the car that was struck, died as a result of the crash. The driver of that car, Nicole Rudd, now 24, suffered a head injury, a lacerated spleen and liver, broken ribs, crushed knees and her right femur was shattered.

Judge Daniel Ford ordered that Guinan serve concurrent state prison sentences of five to seven years at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Cedar Junction.

Guinan had a blood alcohol content of .06, which is below the legal limit, but there was also hydrocodone, a painkiller, in his system. Second Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Robert W. Kinzer III argued the combination of the two substances impaired his ability to drive.

"It's not always just the blood alcohol level that can impair someone's ability to drive safely," he said.

Kinzer said he was satisfied with the jury's verdict and that Guinan's conviction was "justice."

Guinan's attorney, Peter C. Alessio, argued that the amount of each substance, even mixed, wasn't enough to "conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that [Guinan] was impaired based just on the numbers." Guinan is considering an appeal, according to Alessio.

Guinan's defense centered around the steering system of Guinan's 2011 Hyundai Sonata. Hyundai issued a recall on those cars citing malfunctions that affected the power-steering system. Alessio said that malfunction caused the steering wheel to shake and jerk, leaving the driver unable to maintain control.

Trooper Michael George of the Massachusetts State Police Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Section testified that the recall wasn't a factor in this crash.

Kinzer commended the work of Pittsfield Police Officer James McIntyre and Sgt. Mark Trapani, whose investigation into the crash was "instrumental in this case from start to finish. They did everything the way you want to see it done."

To reach Josh Stilts:
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