A 22-year-old Norfolk woman died when her disabled car was hit from behind by a pickup truck on westbound I-264 in Virginia Beach, VA. The fatal rear-end collision happened near the Witchduck Road exit at around 3:30 am on March 5, 2017.
The woman who lost her life apparently broke down in the left-hand travel lane of the interstate. She switched on her hazard lights, but the man in the pickup failed to stop or change lanes. He escaped injury but was charged with involuntary manslaughter related to driving under the influence. Virginia statutes authorize the charge when someone kills another person while acting in a negligent or reckless manner but not while intending to hurt anyone. State law further specifies that driving drunk or while on drugs is reckless because it endangers lives.
News reports do not contain details on the at-fault driver's blood alcohol concentration, but police records show that he also faces a pending DUI case in Chesapeake from an incident during February 2017. A March 18, 2015 Today report summarized the dangers repeat drunk drivers pose by citing these statistics:
In 2013, says the most recent data available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 10,000 people died in drunk driving crashes -- one every 52 minutes. The FBI says that every day almost 300,000 people drive drunk, yet only 4,000 are caught by police. An average drunk driver has driven drunk 80 times before his first arrest, according to the Centers for Disease Control. And the NHTSA estimates that on average, two out of three people will be involved in a drunk driving crash in their lifetime.
Holding drunk and drugged drivers accountable for the injuries and deaths they cause is possible, but not always easy. Partnering with a wrongful death attorney who has experience working on behalf of DUI victims will help the family of the women who died on I-264 deal with law enforcement and insurance company personnel.
Having a dedicated legal adviser and representative can be especially important in Virginia. State laws allow an at-fault driver to argue that they should not be held responsible for making compensation and paying damages if the injured or deceased person did even a small thing -- the doctrine of “contributory negligence” -- to contribute to the cause of the wreck. Defeating such arguments requires an independent investigation, which is a part of all competent case preparation.