Police say that a 20-year-old attended an alleged underage drinking party in Columbus County, North Carolina last May. Authorities claim that the man chose to drive after leaving the party-his friend, a 21-year-old man, was riding as a passenger in the car. The younger man who is accused of underage drinking and driving crashed with his friend asleep in the car, according to authorities.
The young man was charged with felony death by motor vehicle. He has now entered a plea deal to resolve the felony DWI charges.
Police say that the young man left the party during the early morning. Witnesses say that other partygoers protested, but the young man drove off anyway. Authorities say that the young man lost control and struck a tree. Police estimate that the car was moving 100 miles per hour as it struck the tree, splitting the car in half. The driver survived injuries he sustained in the crash. His friend did not.
The man entered a plea agreement. He pled guilty to felony death by motor vehicle and underage DUI charges. On the felony count, he was sentenced to a six-month active split sentence, which involves a three year term of supervised probation. The man was given a straight active sentence on the misdemeanor underage drinking and driving conviction, which he was ordered to serve at the conclusion of the six-month active sentence on the felony.
Sentencing issues in North Carolina can be very complex. Generally, an active sentence is one involving time to be served "actively" behind bars. A split sentence can involve active time, followed by supervised probation and is considered an intermediate form of sentencing.
Judges may weigh aggravated and mitigating factors in sentencing for many offenses that do not involve mandatory sentencing provisions. Cases may, at times, be resolved under a plea agreement. Each case, and any potential plea negotiations, generally involves the facts and circumstances surrounding the law and the specific case.
Source: WECT, "Man pleads guilty to charges in connection to friend's death," Feb. 10, 2013