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Woman pleads guilty in felony drunk driving case

A 27-year old North Carolina resident entered a guilty plea to a felony DUI. After hearing all the evidence and pleas from the woman, her family members and the family members of her victim, the judge issued a sentence of 15 years.

One victim died in the wreck. The surviving victim, who suffered extensive physical and mental damage and will never fully recover, was a police officer. He was responding to an unrelated emergency call regarding a bar fight when the woman's car struck him.

Since the accident, he's undergone almost 30 surgeries, including the placement of metal rods in all of his limbs. He also suffers from brain damage. His father spoke on his behalf at the woman's sentencing hearing.

According to the woman's family members, she had been drinking under the belief that she had a designated driver to take her home. Somehow, that driver never materialized, so she made the choice to drive herself home. The woman also expressed regret for what she had done and sympathy for the families of the victims.

The father of the critically-injured officer has worked with the North Carolina legislature since the 2014 accident to pass a state dram shop law. Unlike many other states that already had laws holding bars and restaurants that serve alcohol accountable if they serve a clearly-inebriated guest more liquor, North Carolina's laws were silent on the issue.

Dram shop laws often allow the victims of drunk drivers or their families greater legal recourse when pressing personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits. The average individual driver's insurance policy is often far more limited in what it will pay to any given victim, while businesses carry significantly greater coverage.

That's important when someone is dealing with a serious injury and a lifelong disability after being injured by a drunk driver. While it won't help the victims in this case, it will help those in the future.

Source: WMBF News, "NC woman pleads guilty for DUI crash that killed passenger, injured Dillon Police officer," Ian Cross, April 09, 2018

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