Impaired and distracted, Traci Briskin didn’t even tap the brakes of her Mitsubishi sport utility vehicle as she ran a stop sign on Jockey Street and plowed into the vehicle of 49-year-old Thomas Baker as he was passing through the intersection on Route 67.
Just prior to the crash, the 40-year-old Clifton Park woman had crossed over the center line twice before striking Baker’s vehicle on Nov. 30, 2012. Baker of Milton, the father of four boys and a girl, remained in the intensive care unit in Albany Medical Center hospital before succumbing to his injuries two days before Christmas last year.
On Monday, Briskin was ordered to serve up to 71⁄2 years in prison after she was found guilty of second-degree manslaughter and driving while ability impaired during a jury trial in October. During sentencing, Tracey Baker, the victim’s widow, spoke about how Briskin’s actions had deeply affected her family — something prosecutor James Murphy III stressed when discussing the prison term handed out by Judge Jerry Scarano.
“When someone drives a car, is speeding, weaving, taking her eyes off the road, is impaired by alcohol and then claims she is the victim, it is simply outrageous,” he said. “A message of responsibility and deterrence was sent by the judge today and I hope she realizes the devastating consequences that have resulted to the Baker family as a result of the choices she made.”
Prosecutors said Briskin averted her eyes from the road for about 30 seconds before colliding with Baker’s vehicle, which had the right of way. The stretch of Route 67 where the crash occurred is straight, with no signals or stop signs to slow traffic.
At trial, an eyewitness testified that Briskin was driving anywhere from 60 mph to 70 mph when she drove through the stop sign. She later told investigators she was driving home from a friend’s house in Galway.
Briskin had a blood alcohol level of 0.11 percent when a sample was taken two hours after the crash. The threshhold for driving while intoxicated is 0.08 percent. She later testified that she was reaching for body spray when her GPS fell to her feet, distracting her.
Briskin was indicted in March on charges of second-degree manslaughter, second-degree vehicular manslaughter and misdemeanor driving while intoxicated. After a 10-day trial, she was found guilty of second-degree manslaughter, a felony, and driving while ability impaired, a violation.