A 22-year-old North Carolina woman has been sentenced to eight years in prison and ordered to pay restitution of almost $1.4 million for driving while impaired and involuntary manslaughter. The woman was sentenced in federal court on April 2 after submitting guilty pleas to the charges in September 2013. She admitted to being intoxicated when she struck and killed a soldier on the Fort Bragg army base on Dec. 8, 2012.
The 20-year-old soldier was said to be walking back to his barracks on Bragg Boulevard after visiting a convenience store when he was struck and killed. Accident investigators concluded that the woman’s vehicle was traveling at 75 mph at the time of the accident. The posted speed limit in the area is 50 mph. They also stated that they found no evidence suggesting that the woman had applied her brakes or taken evasive action. Their report also stated that the area was well lit, and that the soldier was wearing a jacket featuring a reflective strip at the time.
Officers at a DWI checkpoint became suspicious when they observed significant damage to the front-end of the woman’s car. Her blood alcohol level was measured at 0.25 percent. This is more than three times the 0.08 percent legal driving limit in North Carolina. Officers surveyed the route that the woman had driven after she told them that she may have hit something. The officers subsequently discovered the body of the soldier in the vicinity of Guber Road.
This case shows that DWI penalties in North Carolina can be severe. Even motorists facing their first drunk driving conviction can be sentenced to jail if there are sufficient aggravating factors. An experienced criminal defense attorney may attempt to lessen the severity of the punishments assessed by bringing mitigating factors to the attention of prosecutors. These could include a previously safe driving record or a blood alcohol reading that is only marginally higher than the state limit. An attorney may also question the validity of toxicology test results or dispute the police account of the events in question.