In the Internet Age, few events of any interest go unnoticed, and an unfortunate tweet can make you famous -- or infamous. Such was the case for a young woman who was arrested on suspicion of DUI in the aftermath of a head-on collision that killed two people. Earlier that evening she had tweeted "2 drunk 2 care."
The woman, now 22, recently pled guilty to two counts of DUI manslaughter. Prosecutors had sought the maximum penalty of 30 years in prison, but the woman's youth, lack of any criminal history, and remorse convinced a judge to be lenient -- if you care to call it that. She got 24 years in prison, six years of probation and a lifetime driving ban.
"So it's crystal clear, you will never drive again," the judge told her. "Do you understand that?"
She does. Her defense attorney says she'll be at least 42 years old when she's released, considering credit for time already served and possible early release based on good behavior. To the woman, who was only 20 on the night she went drinking with her colleagues and supervisors from T-Mobile, "that feels like a lifetime," he said.
Grieving families sue T-Mobil, local bar for their role in the DUI
While DUI is a criminal charge, it can also result in civil lawsuits when driving under the influence causes an accident with injuries or death. As you may know, the majority of states have "dram shop liability" laws, which allow injured people to hold bars and restaurants financially responsible when people their negligence contributes to a drunk-driving event. In other words, if a bar was negligent by serving a minor or over-serving an obviously intoxicated person, they run the risk of a lawsuit if that person goes on to get into a drunk-driving accident. Virginia doesn't have such a law, but the state where this young woman's accident occurred does have one, and the families of those injured and killed are using it. They're also suing the woman's bosses at T-Mobile, who knew the woman was only 20 but allowed her to drink excessively anyway.
People won't remember the tweet '2 drunk 2 care' forever but, for this young woman and the people she harmed, the consequences of one night's bad choices will last for a lifetime. If you're ever arrested for DUI, you need a lawyer right away.