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Past DUI convictions did not stop fatal car accident

A woman from another state was sentenced last April to 12 to 18 years in prison for a drunk driving accident that led to the death of a 79-year-old women in Charlotte, North Carolina, last summer. The drivers had past DUI convictions, but this did not prevent her from getting behind the wheel and causing this fatal accident.

On August 20 last year, this 24-year-old driver crossed a grassy median into oncoming traffic and crashed into a Toyota driven by the victim who was visiting her family in Charlotte. The victim was a mother of eight from South America who managed her own clothing design business and helped the homeless in Bogota, Columbia.

The drunk motorist had a blood alcohol content level of 0.21 which is significantly above the legal limit 0.08 in North Carolina. She pled guilty to second degree murder for this offense.

In December 2012, the motorist was first charged with driving under the influence in another state. She was allowed to plead to a lesser charge of reckless driving in May 2013. This charge was later expunged. Conviction of the original charge may have kept her from legally driving.

In October 2013, she was cited for driving while impaired with a 0.13 BAC in Mecklenburg County. She pled guilty to this charge in July 2014 and had her license suspended for one year.

Law enforcement from the woman's home state later charged her with driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration. This offense has the same penalties as a DUI. In September 2014, she pled guilty to this offense. Her license was suspended for six months and she paid a $500 fine.

In this last case, authorities from that state may have been unware of her 2014 conviction in North Carolina. Sentencing a second-time offender in that state would have resulted in an additional one-year suspension that would have been in effect at the time of the fatal car accident. An ignition interlock would have been installed in her car until 2018.

Repeated offenders pose a risk to other North Carolina motorists. When their recklessness causes a fatality, their family may want to seek legal representation to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Source: The Charlotte Observer, "She had 3 DUI arrests before killing a woman. Here's why she still had a license," Lavendrick Smith, June 17, 2017

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