Local News

New Law Cracks Down on Drunken Drivers Who Injure Others

Posted August 10, 2007

— In the past, drunk drivers who caused accidents that injured people could avoid jail time in North Carolina. But not anymore, thanks to a new law.

An accused drunk driver who caused an accident in Wake County on June 30 will face the tougher law. It's some consolation for the woman he allegedly hit and victims like her.

Robin Mitchell's life is not what it was two months ago. She's restricted to a wheelchair and can't leave her room without help.

“I just want to get well. I just want to get back to the way I was,” she said.

Mitchell was hit head on while driving on Interstate 40 in June. She had 15 broken bones and spent a month in the hospital.

“A broken sternum right here, more or less fractured, and a broken jaw. And I had two broken arms,” she said, describing her injuries.

Police say the driver who hit Mitchell, 44-year-old Brian Reynolds, was drunk.

In the past, district attorneys could charge defendants in these types of cases only with a misdemeanor. A new law changed that, and now they face much more jail time.

That new law is a felony called serious injury by vehicle. It went into effect in December. Depending on a defendant's prior record, he or she could spend four years in prison.

“We believe this is going to help us in our ability to get dangerous drunks off the road,” said Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby. “We needed to do something to tighten up the laws, particularly with those people that were repeat offenders that have caused so many injuries and deaths.”

Mitchell said she's thrilled to hear about the new serious-injury law.

“I think people need to be accountable for their actions behind the wheel drinking and driving. It’s not a mistake,” she said.

Mitchell was released from the hospital two weeks ago. Doctors don't know how long she will need to be in the wheelchair, she said.

Reynolds’ next court date is Aug. 14.


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

Oldest First
View all
  • Derrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr Aug 12, 2007

    You're still trying to post your sob story here? It's been months, give it up. Go ahead and post the Trooper's name along with his supervisor like you usually do.

  • I Hate Hippies Aug 12, 2007

    here's a new concept genius boy - have the cops pull people who are drunk! It doesn't take a rocket scientist to tell someone who is drunk from someone who isn't drunk.

    "There are things like minimum speed limits for a reason." - not in raleigh or anywhere in wake county that I'm aware.

    keep fishin' kid

  • ltbarkley Aug 12, 2007

    "if you go below the speed limit trying to avoid speeding you can be pulled for DUI"

    You can be pulled on the SUSPICION of DUI - but show me ONE officer/trooper that would be willing to try to get that to stand up in court when you pass all the roadside tests and the breathalyser. There are things like minimum speed limits for a reason.

    To those talking about warnings - I have received both verbal and written warnings before. The police still do both. If you are respectful and no argumentative, you stand a much better chance of getting one. And never admit to what you did or did not do. When they ask, do you know why I pulled you, say no.

  • I Hate Hippies Aug 12, 2007

    just so you know - if you go below the speed limit trying to avoid speeding you can be pulled for DUI regardless of the fact that you're not doing anything wrong and the crooked state trooper will supposedly "be in the right" even though he's stupid as a brick to begin with

    LEO in wake county is a joke compared to other counties across the state

  • WhatYaGonnaDoNow Aug 12, 2007

    Panther - what about all those people with their little dogs in their lap as they are driving? I've had just as many people swerving in front of me that weren't on the phone as were.

  • Panther Aug 11, 2007

    I think the law needs to apply to cell phone users also. They present the greatest dangers on the road more so than drunks. However we do not have a national organization looking to eliminate cell phones like MAD is on alcohol. Think about it. I no way condone Drunk Drivers but there is a difference between a person having a beer or glass of wine with dinner and a drunk. Not in the eyes of MAD, they both belong in jail.

  • littleredwolfie Aug 11, 2007

    It's about time!!! My prayers are with Ms. Mitchell. Not only does he need to do some serious prison time, he needs to pay some major restitution...all her hospital bills, her rehabilitation bills, etc...the only problem with that is that under the Structured Sentencing Law, the period of supervision to follow is not long enough for most large amounts of restitution to be paid...so, the victim would have to sue the offender civilly to even have a prayer at recouping any money.

  • Derrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr Aug 11, 2007

    What the?

  • WHAT THA Aug 11, 2007

    How many Warnings VS. Tickets are given in Wake County? Bad proof read before submit.

  • WHAT THA Aug 11, 2007

    Wake County. What is the statistics of DUI Drivers causing multi-car wrecks/victim injuries by speeding/erratic behavior vs sober drivers causing multi-car wrecks/victim injuries from speeding/erractic behavior? How many citations vs tickets are given in Wake County.? The circumstances/particulars of the citations/tickets.
    I am not definitly making a judgemental stance against sober drivers, just want to know about ALL the causes of Fatalities on OUR Highways.
    I agree with the Law, just be ready to build more Jails.
    Maybe the Police have experience in knowing that its the Minor things that tends to lead to a Major One. If it turns out to be minor, what is the factual statistics concerning warnings given, oral/written vs. citations over a minor offense. I wont delve into the defining meaning of 'minor' offense, for everyone has an opinon/circumstance that covers varying degrees of that.
    Victims are left to foot the Bill for the cost of DUI'er's. VICTIM's Right's are?