While many DUI cases only result in misdemeanor charges because someone was driving after consuming too much alcohol, these cases can easily become felonies if an accident occurs and the drunk driver is responsible for serious injuries or death.
A fatal accident occurred in Lumberton, North Carolina that is likely alcohol related.
Drunk driver collides head on with car going in the opposite direction
Officers arrived at the area of Highway 74 near the 41 South exit at about 1 am on a Monday morning. They believe the cause of the accident was a car traveling eastbound in the westbound lanes. The car traveling in the wrong direction killed both the driver and the passenger of the Ford Focus on impact. The other driver was also transported to Southeastern Regional Medical Center in Lumberton with life threatening injuries. Both vehicles were totally destroyed as a result of the crash. Police on the scene believe the driver going in the wrong direction on the highway was probably intoxicated, and they are asking witnesses and members of the public to come forward with more information.
DUI manslaughter and other charges
When drunk driving accidents result in death, the charges against the defendant are serious. Most states will have laws that allow a prosecutor to charge the suspect with vehicular manslaughter, DUI manslaughter, or some other similar crime. In most cases, these are serious felonies that carry the possibility of several years of jail time.
In North Carolina, vehicular manslaughter crimes can either be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. The severity of the sentence will often factor the defendant’s prior criminal record and other DWI charges if they have been convicted of drunk driving crimes in the past. While all misdemeanors only carry up to one year of prison time, felonies related to vehicular manslaughter can carry anywhere between three and fifteen years depending on the specifics of the crime.
How does the state prove the charges?
In a situation like this, the state has to prove that the defendant caused the accident and that they were intoxicated at the time. They must properly secure a sample of breath, blood, or urine through a chemical test within a reasonable time after the accident. All drivers who are aged 21 or older and have a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or greater will be charged with driving while impaired or DWI (note that many states now use the term driving under the influence or DUI, but it is the same crime). If the driver is under the age of 21, the legal limit for alcohol is even lower. Penalties included with a conviction are mandatory license suspensions and thousands of dollars worth of fines. There is also the possibility of jail time for all drunk driving offenses, even misdemeanors.
Local attorneys who specialize in DUI cases can assist you
To speak with a DUI attorney who serves Lumberton or other nearby parts of North Carolina, contact Mark D. Locklear. He handles all kinds of traffic offenses, and he can provide professional guidance to defend against criminal charges.