A young woman who Tweeted “2 drunk 2 care” before killing two best friends in a wrong-way crash in South Florida in November 2013 has been sentenced to 24 years in prison. This was just six years shy of the 30-year maximum she faced on the DUI manslaughter charges to which she pleaded guilty in a Broward County court.
Defendant was just 20 years-old when she purchased $65 worth of alcohol with co-workers at a local bar before getting behind the wheel of a vehicle. This was despite the fact she was not legally old enough to purchase or consume alcohol. She was arguing with her boyfriend at the time, and, shortly before the crash, Tweeted, “2 drunk 2 care,” reportedly in response to their bickering.
The collision occurred when that same woman drove the wrong direction on the Sawgrass Expressway. At the time, she did not have a valid driver’s license. She was traveling more than 80 mph when she crashed into another vehicle carrying two 21-year-old best friends. They were pronounced dead at the scene around 2 a.m.
The drunk driver, meanwhile, suffered fractures to her tibia, fibula and femur, as well as head injuries. She is now largely confined to a wheelchair. This was the same woman who referred to herself on social media accounts as the “pothead princess.”
When the Florida Highway Patrol tested her blood-alcohol level after the crash, it was 0.15 percent, which is nearly twice the legal limit of 0.08 percent. She also had traces of marijuana in her system as well.
At her sentencing hearing, she told the families she thinks about the two people she killed every day, regretting deeply her decisions that night and wishing she could trade places with them. She told them she would not give them excuses, but did ask them to one day forgive her.
Family members for the women killed also gave wrenching testimony. They wore t-shirts with the victims’ faces. One woman’s father revealed how they waited for hours for answers, and no one would tell them exactly what was going on or whether the women had survived. It wasn’t until 5:30 a.m. that troopers finally informed the family their girls were gone. He broke down in sobs as he relived that moment on the stand.
He then stated simply, “I want her back.”
Both families showed video of the victims. A mother of one of the girl’s described how her “soul is forever broken.” She told defendant from the moment her daughter was born, she fought to keep her safe and protect her. In an instant and with one careless decision by defendant, all of that was destroyed.
In addition to the criminal case, a civil drunk driving lawsuit is pending. It names not only defendant driver, but the bar that sold and served to an underage patron. This is called a dram shop lawsuit.
We recognize no amount of money will bring loved one’s back following a horrific incident like this. The hope is that establishments will take note of how costly this type of litigation is, and do everything possible to avoid liability. The stronger the enforcement policies are against underage drinking-and-driving at Florida bars and restaurants, the less likely we are to see this kind of tragedy on replay.
This is one of the reasons we fight so hard for our clients every day.
If you have been a victim of a traffic accident, call Chalik & Chalik at (954) 476-1000 or 1 (800) 873-9040.
More Blog Entries:
1 Million Vehicles Recalled in a Single Week for Safety Issues, May 4, 2015, Cape Coral Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer