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Bristol Man to Serve 7 Years after Pleading no Contest to Fatal DUI

Joseph Kalen of Bristol, was sentenced to 15 years, with seven years to serve, and the remainder suspended with probation on the count of DUI death resulting for a crash in Portsmouth last summer.

Patch file photo.
Patch file photo.

The man accused of driving drunk last June and killing a 79-year-old Bristol man after swerving across Bristol Ferry Road in Portsmouth pleaded no contest to the charge of driving under the influence, death resulting and driving to endanger in Newport County Superior Court today.

Joseph Kalen, 50,  of 99 Peck Street, Bristol, was sentenced by Superior Court Justice Edward C. Clifton to 15 years, with seven years to serve, and the remainder suspended with probation on the count of DUI death resulting.  

Kalen was sentenced to two years suspended with probation, to run concurrent, on the charge of driving to endanger resulting in physical injury. In addition, Justice Clifton ordered Kalen to undergo substance abuse counseling and suspended his license for five years upon release from the Adult Correctional Institutions in Cranston.

Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin said in a release that had the case proceeded to trial, the State was prepared to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that on June 12, 2013, Joseph Kalen was drunk when struck the motor vehicle driven by Elia Giusti of Bristol, RI and Ft. Lauderdale, FL, causing his death.  

Kalen’s vehicle also struck the motor vehicle driven by Brian Leitao, 27, of Warren, RI, causing him injury.

When Portsmouth Police arrived on scene, Kalen was seated on the sidewalk near the collision scene with severe lacerations on his face and reportedly smelled like alcohol.

At Newport Hospital, where Kalen had been taken for treatment of his injuries, Portsmouth Police Officer Daguanno interacted with Kalen, observing that his speech was mumbled and slurred, and the aroma of the recently consumed alcoholic beverage was very strong on Kalen’s breath.  

Portsmouth Police obtained a warrant to take Kalen’s blood once he refused to submit to a chemical test.  Blood tests showed that Kalen’s blood alcohol content was .249, more than three times the legal limit.

“Getting behind the wheel of a vehicle drunk is a tragedy waiting to happen, forever changing the lives of innocent victims and their families,” Kilmartin said. "The dangers and consequences of drunk driving are known by everyone, yet it doesn’t stop people, like Joseph Kalen, from driving impaired.  It is a senseless and deadly act that must end.” 

Portsmouth Police Deputy Chief. Brian Peters and Detectives Mark Mooney and Michael Arnold led the investigation. Special Assistant Attorney General John Corrigan prosecuted the case on behalf of the Office of Attorney General.

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