Drunk driving penalties in Virginia can be serious but when an alleged DUI results in a person's death, the consequences can be even more severe. A 30-year-old Maryland man is finding that out firsthand after pleading guilty in regard to a car crash in May 2017 that resulted in the death of a friend, a 36-year-old man from Shepherdstown, West Virginia.
Reportedly, the car the driver was operating belonged to his passenger. It is unclear why the passenger allowed his friend to drive the vehicle, especially as the passenger's blood alcohol level was only 0.02, while the driver's BAC was allegedly 0.17, more than twice the legal limit in West Virginia. The driver claims that his passenger's pleas to pull over and let him drive are the last things he remembers before the crash. According to the prosecuting attorney, phone records demonstrate that the passenger sent text messages to his wife over a span of nearly half an hour documenting the speeds at which the vehicle was traveling and expressing fear that he was going to die.
It was early in the morning when the vehicle collided with a stone wall along Route 480. The passenger had allegedly just texted his wife that they were almost home. Large stones displaced by the impact reportedly littered the scene, but there were allegedly no marks on the ground to indicate that the driver had hit the brakes before striking the wall at an estimated 80 to 90 miles per hour. Responders took the passenger to an area hospital where he died later the same day.
Following the driver's guilty plea, the court sentenced him to three to 15 years in prison as well as imposing a $3,000 fine. Drivers who face DUI charges and hope to avoid incurring penalties may find it useful to consult an attorney.