Charleston, W. Va. teen pleads guilty in fatal drunk driving accident | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

A West Virginia University freshman pled guilty to driving under the influence causing death for an incident that occurred in June of last year, according to the Charleston Daily Mail. 

The nineteen year old from Charleston, W. Va. was driving under the influence when he wrecked his vehicle and killed his passenger, a recent graduate of George Washington High School.  The victim was partially ejected through the windshield during the car crash. The driver suffered some injuries from the wreck and was treated at a nearby hospital.

We sympathize with the families and friends of the victim and our heartfelt condolences go out to them.  Nothing can be said to take away the pain and anguish these families and friends undoubtedly feel.  We can however remember the life lost through sharing his story and spreading the importance of practicing safe driving. 

Drunk driving is a serious problem in the United States, especially among young drivers, according to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.  The Va. DMV also notes that approximately one million drivers are arrested each year for driving under the influence (DUI.) 

In this unfortunate case, the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level was .186, more than double the BAC level for which a person can be arrested for drunk driving in West Virginia (.08).  It is important to remember that a BAC level of less than .08 can still impair a driver’s ability to operate a motor vehicle. Even consuming a small amount of alcohol can cause drivers to drive in an unsafe and or reckless manner. 

In West Virginia, the punishment for the crime hardly seems appropriate.  According to a Charleston newspaper, the driver in this case will only face between 90 days to one year in jail for causing the death of his friend. DUI Laws and Consequences further notes that first time DUI offenders, not including accidents with fatalities, may face jail time between one day and six months.  Fines range from $100 to $500. The courts may also mandate community service and participation in a safety and treatment program.  

In my practice, I have too often seen cases like this. An innocent life is lost due to pure negligence.  While we can practice safe driving and spread the word of its importance, it is almost certain there will always be some drivers that disregard their safety as well as the safety of others by driving under the influence.  As long as these individuals are on the road, my colleagues and I will continue work to for you, representing the victims of these tragic accidents who can no longer represent themselves.