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Virginia man faces prison in accident case

A Virginia teenage driver has pleaded guilty to charges related to DUI following an accident that left his friend seriously injured.

The young man, now 19, was a recent high school graduate at the time of the crash. He now faces up to 16 years in prison, when he is sentenced in December.

The accident occurred June 16, 2011, when the two friends left the man's house in Salem Woods and headed to the home of his passenger, a young woman now 17 years old. The driver allegedly ran into a tree, and the girl sustained a brain injury and a fractured skull.

The driver wound up pleading guilty to underage possession of alcohol as well as permanently impairing a victim while under the include of alcohol. He is jailed at the Virginia Beach Correctional Center without bond, awaiting sentencing.

He also has had to face court appearances on two other cases. He recently pleaded guilty to possessing marijuana with the intent to distribute it, and he is scheduled to appear in court in September on another charge of possessing alcohol as a minor.

The girl's father said he was relieved that his daughter did not need to relive the accident in a trial. He added he was glad the young man has taken responsibility for the accident. Because of his plea and his age, one could argue against the man being held in prison while he is awaiting prison. But sometimes plea agreements are preferable for everyone than a trial, and the man should be commended for taking responsibility. He said his family wants to move ahead and allow his daughter to continue making progress in her recovery.

Given the teenager's spate of arrests on charges pertaining to drugs and alcohol, as well as his young age, he likely could be well served by a rehabilitation program. At sentencing, the judge might consider converting part of the prison sentence to rehab.

Source: The Virginian-Pilot, "Va. Beach teen guilty in DUI crash that injured friend," Kathy Adams, Aug. 23, 2012

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Ronald E. Smith, P.C.

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