Virginia is known for having some of the toughest DUI/DWI laws in the country, and that hard-nosed stance extends to those who are involved in injury-causing accidents while they are driving under the influence. The law refers to the offense colloquially as "DUI maiming," and while it doesn't get much public attention, it is still one of the most serious alcohol-related offenses, and a conviction will come with harsh, long-term consequences.
The Womick case
A recent high-profile case involving a DUI maiming has thrust the issue back into the spotlight. The case centered around a 2011 car accident that resulted in critical injuries for a then 15-year-old girl and a number of charges - DUI maiming among them - against her then 19-year-old boyfriend. The young girl was left with lasting physical scars and personality changes after the accident. The driver, Carter Womick, recently received a sentence of two years and three months combined for three charges, including maiming while driving under the influence, underage possession of alcohol and an unrelated marijuana possession charge.
The prohibition of DUI maiming is codified into law in Title 18.2, § Section 51.4 of the Code of Virginia. That provision states that anyone driving under the influence of alcohol in such a dangerous way as to be showing a "reckless disregard for human life" that results in the serious, permanent and significantly disabling "bodily injury of another person" will face a Class 6 felony charge. This means a permanent criminal record and serious penalties, including:
- Possible jail time from one to five years
- Fines up to $2500
Furthermore, DUI maiming brings along with it a mandatory license revocation that can last up to three years. It is possible that a provisional license could be granted, but a special application must be made to have a judge consider the issues. In addition, a provisional license might be contingent upon the installation and maintenance of an ignition interlock device that will require a driver to take - and pass - a breath-based alcohol content test before the vehicle will start.
Anyone facing charges of "maiming, etc., of another resulting from driving while intoxicated" is facing an uphill battle. This serious charge brings with it penalties far more serious than the average, first-time DUI or underage possession offense carries. If you or a loved one has been charged with DUI maiming, consult an experienced DUI defense attorney in your area to learn more about your legal rights and to get started on mounting an aggressive defense.