Local News

Driving Drunk? Law Is Tougher If Someone Gets Injured

Posted July 6, 2007 11:54 p.m. EDT
Updated July 7, 2007 10:48 a.m. EDT

— 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.