published Saturday, June 21st, 2014

Repeat DUI offender back in jail after Rossville Boulevard crash

A repeat DUI offender is back in jail on charges related to a year-old vehicle crash that left a 45-year-old taxi driver dead on the eve of Mother's Day.

On May 11, 2013, taxi driver Allen Phillips' van was hit head-on while he was driving on Rossville Boulevard on his way to Chickamauga, Ga. to pick up a fare. Police said at the time that the other driver, Christopher James Hinnard, was high on drugs when his car crossed the center line and struck Phillips' taxi. Phillips died at the scene.

More than a year later, Hinnard, 36, is still shuffling through court. He was indicted in February on charges of vehicular homicide, failure to maintain lane and driving under the influence. He was jailed for a few hours on May 7 after meeting a $25,000 bond.

Phillips' friends and family were outraged, because this was not Hinnard's first DUI charge. They said he shouldn't have been driving in the first place -- or even out of jail.

Hinnard had three prior DUI guilty pleas in Hamilton County before Phillips' death. His most recent plea, in 2008, led to a fine, a two-year license suspension and a 60-day prison sentence, which was reduced for good behavior.

But on May 28, the February indictment was amended with tougher charges. Hinnard now faces a charge of aggravated vehicular homicide, along with DUI and failing to maintain lane. He was rearrested Friday at a hearing on the new indictment, and Criminal Court Judge Rebecca Stern set another $25,000 bond.

Hinnard was in custody and had not made bond as of late Friday afternoon, said Capt. John Swope with the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office.

Hinnard's next court date is July 15.

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