A North Carolina man pled guilty Tuesday to serious felony drunk driving charges involving allegations of an accident involving serious injury. The man says that he does not remember the accident and is not sure he was driving at the time of the crash, but still feels responsible in some way. A friend of the Mebane man was paralyzed in the November 2010 rollover car accident.
The accused entered the guilty plea under a plea agreement with prosecutors under a mechanism known as an Alford plea, named after a 1970 U.S. Supreme Court decision, North Carolina v. Alford. Generally, Alford pleas are not based upon a defendant’s admission of guilt, but upon the defendant’s recognition of the state’s evidence and the likelihood that a jury would convict beyond a reasonable doubt based upon the evidence.
The defendant was reportedly knocked unconscious in the rollover accident and could not remember the facts leading up to the crash, or the crash itself. The man was accused of felony serious injury by vehicle, with evidence of a 0.18 breath alcohol level. The man was accused of drinking with friends the night of the crash and the three stopped to buy beer in the early morning, a short time before a 4:00 a.m. rollover accident.
Under his plea agreement with prosecutors, the defendant entered an Alford plea in exchange for a probationary sentence. The judge reportedly gave the man a suspended 21-to-26-month sentence with credit for 13 days time served in jail. The prosecutors and the accused had agreed to 36-months probation and other terms in the plea agreement.
Source: The Burlington Times-News, “Man pleads in wreck that paralyzed friend,” Michael D. Abernathy, April 5, 2012