Driver in Deadly Virginia I-81 Crash Pleads Guilty to Manslaughter and DUI

The driver who was involved in a fatal crash with a tractor trailer on I-81 in Montgomery County, Virginia will spend at least several years in state prison. 

The driver pleaded guilty this week to involuntary manslaughter, possession of a Schedule II controlled substance and a third DUI. The July 4, 2017 crash with a tractor trailer happened on I-81 south at mile marker 122, which is near the Christianburg exit. He was sentenced to 25 years which will be suspended after serving nine years.

The man’s Ford Expedition hit a big rig that was parked on the side of the road because of mechanical problems. The tractor trailer driver had both cones and flares out as he is legally required to do. The passenger in the SUV was killed at the scene.

Our View

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 37,400 people died in car accidents in 2016 and 10,400 were killed in drunk driving crashes. Among people who were killed in these crashes, 67% of them were in crashes with at least one driver in the accident having a BAC of .15% or higher, which is more than double the legal limit.

National statistics show that drunk driving fatalities have fallen 51% since the early 1980s and for those under 21, drunk driving deaths have dropped by 80%. Even though there has been progress, there is still a lot of work to do. Our Virginia and North Carolina personal injury attorneys have seen first hand the terrible injuries and fatalities that drunk driving can cause. It is our hope that someday there will be no more drunk driving crashes in the United States.

The financial cost of drunk driving deaths is also very high. Every time a person is killed by a drunk driver, the total cost of the loss of life is $3.5 million, according to NHTSA data. For victims who survive, the national average cost is $99,000 and the quality of life loss is $50,000.

Our personal injury attorneys have worked on many personal injury lawsuits involving drunk drivers, such as this $3.5 million jury verdict against a Virginia drunk driver who seriously injured our middle school teacher client in Newport News. These types of jury verdicts are a good thing – not only does the drunk driving victim get the compensation they deserve, it also serves as a warning that drunk driving will not be tolerated in our state.