The general classification of a driving while intoxicated charge is a misdemeanor offense. In Virginia, however, a DWI offense which causes serious injury to another individual may result in a felony charge. In order to avoid a felony conviction, a 40-year-old Salem resident entered into a no contest plea over a DWI charge which caused severe bodily harm.

As reported by The Roanoke Times, the intoxicated driver cut off a tractor-trailer with his SUV, resulting in a felony DWI maiming charge over the harm his actions caused to his passenger. The 45-year-old man riding in the SUV was seriously injured, required hospitalization and remained in a coma for about one month. Because the driver’s toxicology report showed a 0.082% blood-alcohol content, the accident led to a DWI charge.

Punishment for a DWI conviction

By pleading no contest to the charge, the Roanoke County motorist received the typical sentence for most DWI misdemeanor convictions in Virginia: a license suspension and a fine. The judge also ordered him to complete the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program and serve a suspended jail sentence. In Virginia, a judge may also request the installation of an ignition interlocking device after the reinstatement of a suspended driver’s license.

The driver who pleaded no contest will need to shoulder the burden of getting to work without a driver’s license for 12 months, but the prosecutor accepted his plea and dropped the felony DWI maiming charge. A conviction for maiming may have resulted in a much more serious punishment. The Salem man may also serve the balance of his suspended sentence of two months’ jail time on weekends upon approval of his request to do so.

Virginia’s DWI maiming code

According to the Virginia Law Library, DWI maiming may include accusations of driving recklessly or in a gross, wanton manner while under the influence. Whether a motorist has consumed alcohol, drugs or other intoxicating substances, the maiming charge results when another individual suffers serious bodily injuries. Although hurting another person while physically impaired is generally unintentional, Virginia classifies the action as a felony.