Duke Student Sentenced for Dwi Crash That Killed Friend

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A little more than a year after he and his friend were in a single-car accident in Durham, a former Duke University student stood in front of a judge and pleaded guilty to felony death by vehicle. Police reports indicate he had been driving 30 miles an hour above the posted speed limit on Academy Road when he apparently lost control of his vehicle. The car left the road, struck a tree and rolled down the embankment.

His passenger, a fraternity brother, was killed. The driver was taken to the hospital where he was treated and released — not, however, before a blood alcohol test was taken that indicated he had been intoxicated at the time of the crash. His BAC was reported at 0.281, more than three times North Carolina’s legal limit.

His sentence has a few different phases. First, he will spend five months in prison. Felony death by vehicle is a Class E felony, carrying a maximum sentence of up to 31 months in prison.

He will then be on supervised probation for five years, during which time his license will be suspended and he will be required to submit to random intoxication tests. The court imposed a zero tolerance standard for the young man: Any indication of intoxication will be considered a violation of the terms of his probation. When the probation has ended, he must pay more than $32,000 in restitution.

In addition to prison and probation, the young man must complete 300 hours of community service, and some of that time will be used to educate college and high school students on the dangers of driving drunk.

Source: Duke Chronicle, “Lee Royster will spend 5 months in prison for DWI death,” Tiffany Lieu, Nov. 27, 2012

Our firm works with clients who are charged with drunk driving and related crimes, like the one discussed in this post. If you would like to learn more about our practice, please visit our Raleigh, North Carolina, DWI page.