A man subsequently charged with second-offense driving under the influence and other criminal offenses hit and killed a pedestrian at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront on Sunday night, May 4, 2014. The fatal accident occurred near the intersection of 17th Street and Pacific Avenue. According to the Virginian-Pilot, the at-fault driver is also facing a charge of involuntary manslaughter.



Even more than the dangers drunk and high drivers pose to everyone else, this deadly pedestrian crash illustrates how much harm repeat DUI offenders can cause. While Virginia has steadily increased penalties for first DUI convictions, most notably by requiring ignition interlock devices, the only thing that can truly stop driving while intoxicated is a responsible decision by the person holding the car, truck or motorcycle keys.

Sadly, too many people too often make the negligent and reckless decision after having one or two too many. Police and courts do appear to have done their best to ensure the safety of pedestrians and other drivers by arresting and convicting the man who caused this most-recent drunk driving fatality. No one but that person himself could have prevented this tragedy.

Regardless of whether courts again convict the man, family members of the pedestrian who lost his life may have grounds for filing a wrongful death lawsuit and recovering punitive damages. Civil claims can proceed separately from criminal cases, and the outcome of one type of case does not determine the outcome of the other.