Recently, the West Virginia Supreme Court ruled that a driver previously convicted of a DUI must be resentenced after leaving the scene of a drunk driving incident that killed five people and injured seven. The driver, Brian Stone, had originally received 12 consecutive sentences for the offense. The Supreme Court ruled that Stone should have received just one prison sentence.
After a jury convicted the driver on multiple crimes, the trial court judge delivered a 41-year prison sentence for the tragic accident he caused in 2007 for driving his truck into the back of another vehicle on I-68. The force of the collision was so strong that Stone’s truck pushed the car he hit across the divider and into the path of an oncoming sport utility vehicle, resulting in the deaths of two in the car and three in the SUV. The jury later concluded that Stone was intoxicated at the time of the accident. Even several hours after the crash, Stone’s blood alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit, and he had failed three field sobriety tests prior to his arrest.
The jury originally convicted Stone of more than two-dozen offenses, including 12 counts for leaving the scene of the accident. Law enforcement officials subsequently found Stone hitchhiking about a half-mile from the scene of the crash. Stone’s truck was still at the crash site, with its engine still running. Stone’s defense included a claim that his tire blew out, causing the accident, but evidence of Stone’s blood alcohol content, as well as Stone’s prior history of six DUI arrests and three convictions in West Virginia and Pennsylvania, suggest that this was an unlikely cause. West Virginia had revoked Stone’s license in 2004, but Stone managed to get a Pennsylvania license prior to the revocation. Although the West Virginia Supreme Court ruled that Stone should be resentenced in order to have just one prison sentence, it otherwise rejected the rest of Stone’s appeal.
We at the Wolfe Law Firm sympathize with the families of the accident victims. Driving a vehicle is an act of responsibility that too many people do not take seriously. Recently, the nonprofit Trust for America’s Health ranked West Virginia the eighth most dangerous state to drive in, with 19.8 deaths per 100,000. In 2008, 128 people were killed in cases where one of the drivers had more than .08% blood alcohol level. Despite the fact that driving is a dangerous activity, too many, like Stone, think that they have everything under control even after they have had several alcoholic drinks.
If you or your loved one are injured in an accident by a drunk driver, you should not hesitate to hire an experienced West Virginia car accident attorney. The attorney would work to ensure that you received proper compensation for your losses, including specific compensation for your medical bills and more general compensation for your pain and suffering. You would argue that the driver had a duty to the other drivers on the road to operate the vehicle safely. The driver breached that duty by violating the law and driving while drunk. As a result, you or your loved one were injured, and the resulting damage was anything from whiplash to a broken back. In some tragic cases, such as Stone’s, the victim of the car accident dies, and his or her loved ones file a lawsuit against the drunk driver for wrongful death. With wrongful death, not only is it possible to get compensation for pain and suffering, and for medical bills, but it is also possible to get compensation for loss of support and services.