Police: "Death by Auto" Driver Has DUI History

By DANIELLE JOHNSON Updated 10:47 PM EDT, Tue, Sep 15, 2009   Lower Township, N.J. police have charged John Lawless, 37, with death by auto after he crashed into another driver head-on, on Route 9 Saturday night. Fredrick Shelton, 50, died at the scene. Police said Lawless has a history of drunken driving, according to the Press of Atlantic City.   Shelton, who was driving a 1996 Ford Escort, was traveling south on Route 9. He approached the intersection with Bennetts Crossing when a northbound 2000 Chrysler Sebring convertible driven by Lawless collided with his car. The crash sent Shelton’s vehicle spinning into the intersection before it came to a stop facing northbound in the southbound lane, according to the paper.   Also in the car with Shelton was his wife, Sherri, 44, and 13-year old daughter, were both taken to the hospital in critical condition. Investigators said Lawless had his Pa. license suspended in 2001 and has a history of drunken driving arrests.   “The bottom line here is this man should not have been operating a motor vehicle on any highway, in any state based on his suspended driving privileges and record of previous DWI arrests,” Lower Township Police Chief Edward Donohue told the paper.   Lawless is being treat at AtlantiCare Medical Center and is under guard by Lower Township police. He will be placed in Cape May County jail in lieu of $100,000 bail.

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