Fleeing, property damage ups Berkeley County DUI to felony

Alcohol impairs our ability to patiently think through a decision, to make prudent choices. It is simply a fact that after consuming a number of drinks, we may make impulsive choices. For some, the fear of DUI consequences may even prompt them to attempt to avoid an arrest. For others, the impairment may simply impede their ability to see the flashing lights.

We can only guess as to the reason behind an Inwood man’s recent failure to stop when a West Virginia state trooper attempted to initiate a traffic stop. When the trooper observed the man allegedly driving a pickup above the posted speed limit, he turned on his lights and siren. The truck did not stop.

The West Virginia state trooper followed in pursuit of the truck as it sped over a railroad crossing, turned into a parking lot, turn around again and drove away. The trooper eventually lost sight of the vehicle.

It was Berkeley County deputies that eventually found the truck after a call came into dispatch concerning a vehicle that had crashed into the back of a home in Berkeley County.

After the entire incident was reviewed, law enforcement officials added up the possible charges that they could base the arrest upon.

Several misdemeanor charges resulted from the observations made during the pursuit. Driving through a stop sign, speeding, crossing the center line, passing other vehicles and swerving all led to these charges. Reckless driving, obstructing an officer and aggravated DUI first offense were added to these other misdemeanor counts.

When police determined that the damage to the home added up to approximately $25,000, they added a felony charge for property damage to the total. A blood alcohol concentration of .166 determined by a breath test administered at the Martinsburg state police detachment and the high-speed pursuit likely acted as the basis for the felony fleeing while driving under the influence offense.

There are circumstances that can elevate a misdemeanor charge to a felony DUI, and the laundry list of related traffic offenses is common in these situations. No matter what mistakes were made prior to an arrest, a Martinsburg defense attorney can help sort out the situation and determine how best to build a strong defense.

Source: The Journal, “Man crashes truck into house during pursuit,” Edward Marshall, April 4, 2014

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