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Billings woman gets 20 years for DUI death

A Billings woman accused of causing a fatal head-on car accident while she was driving drunk has been sentenced to 20 years in prison. Reports show that the woman had been operating a vehicle while her blood alcohol level was more than three times the legal limit. The woman killed a 47-year-old man when she collided with him while driving on the wrong side of the interstate.

The woman pleaded guilty to charges of vehicular homicide and felony criminal endangerment. She will also have to pay more than $17,000 in criminal fines and restitution to the victim's family members. Although she did not have any previous felony convictions, the woman had a criminal record full of misdemeanors ranging from prostitution to domestic violence.

Prosecutors also presented evidence showing that the woman is diabetic, and she should have known that alcohol would have a heightened influence on her ability to drive. The woman had about six drinks before she got behind the wheel.

Records show that the crash happened on Aug. 21, 2011 at about 1:00 a.m., when the woman collided nearly head-on with the victim's vehicle. The man's car then struck a sedan carrying seven people, including five children, according to accident statements. One of the children suffered a severe leg injury.

The woman did not seem repentant, saying that she had lost her opportunity for a nursing career because she had to sit in jail for a year awaiting sentencing.

Statements from family members indicate that the victim was highly regarded and will be missed. Based on the charged emotional statements issued on the stand by these family members, it is likely that they will pursue civil action against the woman, which was exacerbated by the woman's apparent lack of remorse.

Family members could pursue punitive damages against the woman for wrongful death, loss of income and companionship, along with a variety of other civil charges.

Source: The Billings Gazette, "Woman receives 20-year sentence for fatal crash," Greg Tuttle, July 27, 2012

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