A Virginia judge has sentenced a 43-year-old woman to two years in jail for her role in an accident that left four people injured as they headed to the school bus stop. However, the woman could still face even more serious charges.
Before the judge handed down the sentence, the woman pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor second-offense DUI charges and to failing to stop for a school bus. The judge issued the guilty verdict and sentenced her to the maximum time possible.
Still, she could wind up spending more time behind bars. A grand jury is set to review three felony charges of maiming while driving under the influence to determine whether there is enough evidence to send the case to trial. If convicted on those charges, she could spend as much as 17 years in prison.
The woman's attorney said he would appeal the conviction on the misdemeanor charges.
The accident occurred just before 8 a.m. on Jan. 19. Police said a school bus was properly stopped with its lights flashing on Chester Street in Virginia Beach when the woman drove her car in front of it. She wound up driving into the yard of a local man as he escorted his son, daughter and niece to the bus. Police said she struck all four with the car.
The woman said she took her prescription medication that morning, and the prosecutor said tests also show she had used illegal drugs, but they would not say what. The woman's prescriptions are for the anti-anxiety medicine Xanax and for the attention-deficit disorder drug Adderall.
Her attorney said she has a drug addiction and was set to enter an inpatient rehab program that day. Instead, she is being held without bond at the Virginia Beach Correctional Center. This begs the question of what would truly rehabilitate the woman: a program where she can rid herself of her addiction, or jail, where she may not get the treatment she needs?
Source: The Virginian-Pilot, "Woman receives 2-year sentence in Beach DUI crash," Kathy Adams, May 22, 2012