Iowa farmer and reality T.V. star, Chris Soules, became known as “Prince Farming” during his stint on The Bachelor, three years before his legal battle began. Soules also appeared on The Bachelorette and Dancing With The Stars.
Now the ex-reality T.V. star is in the middle of a felony case after he rear-ended a farm tractor driven by his neighbor, Kenneth Mosher, on a rural northern Iowa road just as the sun as went down on April 24th. Both Soules’ truck and Mosher’s tractor went into opposite ditches. Mosher died in the hospital a short time later.
A judge dismissed a constitutional challenge submitted by Soules’ attorney requiring the surviving driver in a fatal accident to remain at the scene until police arrive. He will now face trial on January 18th.
After the collision, Soules called 911, reported the accident and identified himself. He then administered CPR to Mosher and stayed at the scene until emergency medical services arrived. But before police officers could get there, Soules was driven home.
He was arrested at 1:16 A.M. the following morning and police reported that Soules declined to let officers into his house until after they obtained a search warrant. He was charged with failure to remain at the scene of a fatal accident and may face up to five years in prison.
Soules’ attorneys argue Iowa’s law violates the constitutional rights of citizens to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures and to avoid self-incrimination. The state law indicates “a surviving driver shall promptly report the accident to law enforcement authorities, and shall immediately return to the scene of the accident or inform the law enforcement authorities where the surviving driver can be located.”
Most states consider it a felony to leave the scene of an accident if a driver is injured or dies on impact, but Iowa’s law takes this to the next level with the additional requirement the surviving driver to stay present until law officers arrive. This potentially exposes drivers to self-incrimination, according to Soules’ attorneys.
“No other state has a comparable requirement,” the attorneys wrote. Law enforcement argues, however, the purpose of the clause is to prevent drivers evading responsibility for drinking and driving recklessly.
“The state submits the legislature foresaw that drunk drivers could flee the scene of a fatal crash precisely because they wanted to escape and sober up before confronting law enforcement officers who may detect telltale signs of intoxication,” prosecutors responded.
Court documents indicated the ex T.V. star was seen purchasing alcohol at a convenience store shortly before the accident. Prosecutors allege he attempted “to obfuscate the immediate facts and circumstances surrounding the accident, including a determination of his level of intoxication and an explanation of the empty and partially consumed open alcoholic beverages located in and around his vehicle.” If officers had been able to test Soules sooner and determine that he was legally drunk at the time of the crash, he would have been facing a vehicular homicide charge with a prison sentence of up to 25 years.
Soules also pleaded guilty to drunken driving in 2005 and was sentenced to one year of probation. In 2001, when he was just 19, he twice pleaded guilty to underage possession of alcohol and also was fined for having an open container in a car.