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PTSD veteran gets 18 months for fatal DWI crash

A Virginia veteran who killed his best friend during a car accident in June 2013 will serve 18 months in prison in connection with the wreck. The early morning DWI crash left one victim dead after the allegedly intoxicated driver lost control of his vehicle while driving in Richmond. Official reports show that the man's blood alcohol content at the time of the collision was about 0.16 percent, or twice the legal limit for driving in the state of Virginia.

In this case, prosecutors chose to pursue a shorter sentence than is traditionally handed down; the man's formal sentence is for a five-year term, but three years and six months have been suspended. This decision stems from the fact that the man has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress syndrome, which may have played a role in his excessive drinking that caused the wreck. Court officials say the man has already been paired with a case manager from the Virginia Wounded Warrior Program, and he will be enrolled in a rehabilitation program after his release from prison.

The man pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in connection with the DUI crash during an October hearing. He also admitted to drinking beer and consuming shots of hard liquor before getting behind the wheel. This is not the first time that the man has been in trouble with the law for alcohol-related traffic offenses; he was convicted two years ago of DUI, serving a four-day prison term and paying a modest fine.

Veterans who suffer from PTSD may be able to use that condition as a critical component of their criminal defense strategy. In this case, the man will be getting the help he needs and deserves after his release from serving a relatively short jail term. Veterans who are facing similar cases may benefit from consulting with a qualified criminal defense attorney, who can help them learn more about potential DUI penalties in their individual cases.

Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch, "Iraq war veteran sentenced to 18 months for killing friend in drunk driving crash" Mark Bowes, Jan. 07, 2014

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