Local News

Driving Drunk? Law Is Tougher If Someone Gets Injured

Posted July 6, 2007
Updated July 7, 2007

— A new state law aims to get tough on drunk drivers who hurt others.

Suspected offenders face serious consequences and jail time as one Johnston County man is finding out.

Brian Reynolds, 44, of Kenly, was driving his car about 90 mph in the middle lane of I-40 eastbound on June 30 when he lost control, police said.

His car struck a Chevrolet head-on in the middle lane of I-40 westbound. The Chevrolet was driven by Robin Mitchell, of Cary.

Officials said a third vehicle, a Toyota driven by Don Faircloth, 52, was also slightly damaged during the collision.

Reynolds, Mitchell and a passenger in Reynolds' car had to be extricated from their vehicles. Ambulances took all three to WakeMed.

Reynolds was arrested, and a police report indicated he was driving while impaired. In the past, his actions would be considered a misdemeanor. Under a new DUI statute, he faces a more serious felony charge.

Assistant Wake County District Attorney Howard Cummings said before the new law, DUI offenders who caused serious injuries faced weekends in jail for maybe two years - but not anymore.

“If driving while impaired results in injury to a person, it’s a Class F felony,” Cummings said. “They can go to prison, depending on their prior record, for up to four to five years.”

That pleased Sharon Armstrong, who said she witnessed Reynolds’ crash.

The night of the accident, Armstrong said paramedics told her the woman who got hit was going to make it, but she was in bad shape.

“[The paramedic] said, ‘I can just tell. I’ve picked up enough patients to know this: her legs were crushed, her pelvis was broken,’” Armstrong said. “He said her arms were broken. Her wrists are broken.”

Armstrong said she hopes the new law provides some form of justice for the victim injured in the accident.

“The impact of that on that girl was just horrific,” she said.

The victim, Robin Mitchell, was still recovering at WakeMed, officials said.

As for Reynolds, he remained in the Wake County Jail on $20,000 bond Friday. He is due in court Monday.


Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • 68_polara Jul 9, 2007

    When will this finally be applied to those using cell phones, while driving, when they hurt someone?

  • NC Forester Jul 9, 2007

    Why wait till someone gets hurt to crack down on drunk drivers? I know one person who has been caught driving drunk multiple times and he is still on the road. Why do we have to wait until he hurts someone to put him behind bars?

  • kindanutsboutswim Jul 8, 2007

    the north carolina legislature amazes me personally.

  • killing_me_softly Jul 8, 2007

    I agree with another poster. The problem is not some of the laws that exist or will exist. There is a problem with the games that are played in court that don't allow those laws to be enforced. Whether it has to do with drunk driving or domestic violence or any other area of criminal activity, if the courts don't enforce the laws (not law enforcement because they are the ones that assist with getting them to court in the first place)all of the hard work that is put in to protect citizens seems to go in vain. Sad thing.

  • Dodge Jul 8, 2007

    Make the WHOLE state a dry state and u wont have these problems, right.
    looks like alot of u have never had wine @ a restaurant, or a beer at a sportsbar, but even sober, cause more accidents than drunks do. Why's that?

  • hdsoftail Jul 8, 2007

    I have no problem with people that are torn out of the frame getting arrested. I have a problem with the stupid laws such as I cannont drink a beer in the car with someone else driving and not drinking. To me that would be responsible. Is that a part of some stupid m a d d law? I am a member of DAMM too.

  • brassy Jul 8, 2007

    "You can increase the penalties if you want, that is if it will make you feel better, but it is not going to solve the problem with repeat offenders. Are you going to lock away a family's primary bread-winner thats holding down a full-time job for 5-10 years for a second DWI, even if they haven't harmed anyone?"

    Do you really think enabling a functional alcoholic to continue driving drunk will solve anything? Addicts are deluded - they don't think anything is wrong. When they do finally hurt or kill someone, that family will lose something more valuable than a paycheck.

  • ladyblue Jul 8, 2007

    Elcid--I like that organization better. Didn't know you had a sense of humor.

  • ladyblue Jul 8, 2007

    Nana-- the only problem I have with MADD is just what I said. They are one working organization and can get more bills passed than our legislators. I wish they'd help fight for other organizations. I remember when MADD was organized. They brought the reality of how serious drunk driving was. My brother was KILLED by drunk driver in 62, when the courts asked 2 questions was the driver negligent in speeding and driving drunk(yes). Was my brother negligent in not asking the driver to let him out of car.(yes). Driver found not liable. So they have come a long way. I'm sure MADD meets for lunch and probably has a glass of wine with dinner and drives home. I hope also none of their children drinks, drives and hits anyone. They will be going to jail too.

  • gopanthers Jul 8, 2007

    With you guys bringing up MADD. I wonder how many of them take a sip here and there and drive. Get DUI's and its not made public becuase of the damaging effect it would have on the organization.