Articles Posted in DUI/Drunk Driving Accidents

snowcat-428095-m.jpgAn employee of the West Virginia Department of Transportation could face charges of driving a state snowplow while intoxicated.

Thomas Keith Henderson of Elkhorn was arrested in McDowell County during a traffic stop on Burke Mountain near Keystone. According to the criminal complaint, a law enforcement official stopped the snowplow due to the fact that the driver’s side headlight was not working. The deputy then allegedly smelled alcohol and noted that Henderson’s eyes were bloodshot and glassy. Henderson was arrested and transported to the McDowell County Holding Unit to await arraignment.

Later, the sheriff’s department stated that Henderson’s blood alcohol level was 0.9, or more than twice the 0.4 legal limit for holders of a commercial driver’s license. Henderson was arraigned before McDowell County Magistrate Steve Cox and later paid a bond of $500 for release. So far the Department of Transportation has not commented due to it being an ongoing legal matter.
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beer glass.jpegA West Virginia man has filed a lawsuit against the bar that served him alcohol, claiming that as a result, one of his friends became so intoxicated that he ran over the man’s leg. Arlon Ray Anderson II claims that a female bartender at Cold Spot, LLC in Charleston should have refrained from serving him and his friends alcohol after it was clear that they were visibly intoxicated.

In July 2011, Anderson and his friends, Thomas Carte and Keith Mounts, visited Cold Spot for 1.5 hours. During that time, the bartender served them each four beers and four shots of liquor. Afterward, the three men left and decided to stop at a local convenience store. While one of the men was in the store, Anderson got out of the vehicle to check something under the hood. Carte, who was still in the vehicle, slid over to the driver’s side and depressed the gas pedal, forcing the vehicle forward and Anderson backward. Anderson ended up being crushed against another car. As a result, Anderson needed to have his right leg amputated above the knee, and the left leg sustained compound fractures and lacerations. Anderson seeks compensatory damages.

West Virginia is one of a majority of states in the U.S. to have a “dram shop” law. That means an establishment that serves alcohol can be held liable for any accident caused by a customer who was noticeably intoxicated while on the premises. The liability is financial only, not criminal, but serves as a reminder to restaurants and other alcohol-serving establishments that they have a responsibility, not just to their customers, but also to the public at large. These businesses cannot simply look the other way as someone becomes heavily intoxicated.

cop_car.jpegThe parent of a dead police officer plan to sue Bugsy’s Beer Garden and Ruby Tuesday’s, Inc. for causing their son’s death.

Officer Michael Todd May was killed in February of this year, after Jerod Alan Green’s Chevrolet Silverado collided with his police car on Interstate 79. Green — who was named as a defendant in the suit — was found to be driving while intoxicated and while under the influence of other drugs. He was in the midst of fleeing a prior accident that he had caused, and was being chased by the Monongalia County Sheriff’s Department. Green was allegedly a patron at Bugsy’s and Ruby Tuesday’s prior to getting behind the wheel. Franklin Gerald May and Catherine Faye Baker May, serving as administrators of Officer May’s estate, claim that both establishments kept serving Green alcohol until his blood alcohol content was .189 or above. West Virginia’s legal minimum for intoxication is .08. Both establishments, the Mays claim, kept serving alcohol even after they knew or should have known that Green was “visibly and noticeably” intoxicated. As a result of Green’s alleged gross negligence and recklessness, and of the two establishments’ alleged negligence, Officer May suffered serious injuries that resulted in his death. May’s parents seek compensatory and punitive damages.

West Virginia is one of a majority of states to have what are known as “dram shop” laws. That means an establishment that serves alcohol can be held liable for any accident caused by a customer who was noticeably intoxicated while on the premises. The liability is financial only, not criminal. Nonetheless, it serves as a reminder to restaurants and other alcohol-serving establishments that they have a responsibility, not just to their customers, but also to the public at large. Why should they be permitted to look the other way as someone becomes heavily intoxicated, just because it brings more money to the business?

274334_car_crash.jpgA recent report from states that police believe alcohol played a role in causing a traffic accident that occurred in West Huntington this week, and an arrest may be forthcoming as a result. The wreck was allegedly caused by a driver who ran a red light and collided with two sport utility vehicles in the middle of the intersection of Adams Ave. and 14th St. West. Several people were injured in the accident, including an individual who was thrown from one car by the impact. Emergency personnel responded to help the victims, and while some of their injuries were serious, none were life threatening.

Driving is a dangerous enough activity even when there is no mind altering substances involved, and the news story above shows how hazardous the roads can be when people do drive under the influence. All of us at the Wolfe Law Firm hope for the speedy recovery of the victims from the crash, but their circumstances provide a stark reminder to all of us why it is important to be careful when on West Virginia’s roads. Unfortunately, defensive driving is not always enough to prevent such accidents from occurring, and there will always be many people who are injured by drunk drivers each year. If you or a loved one has suffered because of the careless actions of a drunk driver, you should contact a West Virginia drunk driving victim attorney as soon as possible. The criminal justice system may provide some peace of mind, but it cannot fully compensate you for your injuries, and a lawyer can analyze your situation to help get you as fully compensated as the law allows.

1287429_refreshing_mojito.jpgIf you’re accused of driving drunk in the state of West Virginia (along I-79, Route 50, Route 33, etc.), you can face up to three years in jail and $5,000 in fines for repeat convictions. Even for first-time offenders, jail time, license suspension and fines are all inevitable. You will also be required to attend a safety and treatment program before you can get your license back.

What is Considered Drunk Driving?

You will be cited for DUI (driving under the influence) if you have a certain level of alcohol in your system at the time you are pulled over and tested. The BAC (blood alcohol concentration) limit is .08 statewide for drivers 21 and over. For commercial drivers and minors, the limits are even stricter: .04 for drivers operating commercial vehicles and .02 for drivers under the age of 21 (or zero tolerance). The DUI Law in West Virginia also prohibits drivers from operating vehicles while under the influence of controlled substances as well. These include narcotics, inhalants or other intoxicants.

1174747_by_a_beer.jpgIn West Virginia, the penalties for drunk driving offenses are rigidly enforced throughout the state. With Labor Day weekend fast approaching, local authorities will be cracking down on drivers who are over the legal Blood Alcohol Level of (.08) for drivers over 21 and (.02) for drivers under the age of 21. If convicted, you can expect jail time, fines and license suspension.

For a first offense, those convicted of drunk driving can face:

– Up to 6 months in jail reports that the Tyler County Sheriff’s office participated in a state-funded drunk driving crackdown from February 1 to June 30 of this year. Results from the federally funded grant program of the State of West Virginia turned up hundreds of traffic stops and several arrests of drunk drivers in the Tyler County jurisdiction.

During the period of the program, Sheriff Bob Kendle of the Tyler County Sheriff’s office said the purpose of the project was to add patrol to combat drunk driving. Sheriffs made a total of 522 traffic stops, three DUI arrests, 10 misdemeanor arrests, two felony arrests and two drug-related arrests. Deputies reported handing out 53 traffic violations and 344 warnings as well.

Tyler County, West Virginia has been experiencing a spike in drunk driving incidents and the Sheriff’s office hopes this program will be a deterrent to people who drink and drive. All of the above listed statistics were in addition to traditional on-duty arrests and citations, so there was a very evident increase in the police presence in the area.