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WV Senate passes bill to increase penalties in DUI crashes

By TAYLOR STUCK

The Herald-Dispatch

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A bill legislators began working on immediately following a summertime car crash just feet from where children were playing in Huntington’s Ritter Park passed the Senate unanimously Wednesday, the West Virginia Legislature’s crossover day.

Senate Bill 105 creates the misdemeanor crime of placing a non-passenger at risk of physical injury while driving impaired. The penalty is a fine of no less than $100 and no more than $1,000, a jail sentence of no more than a year, or both.

The bill is in response to prosecutors’ lack of options in charging a Huntington couple that overdosed in their vehicle and subsequently crashed into a light pole just feet from the playground in Ritter Park in July. Wanton endangerment laws criminalize weapons-related threats and impaired driving laws only accounted for an actual injury occurring.

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