Area woman wonders why man isn't facing more serious charges in - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Area woman wonders why man isn't facing more serious charges in drunk driving crash

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An area woman says she's seeking justice after a horrifying drunk driving accident.  She is wondering why the driver is not facing tough charges.

Tonya Newman was involved in an accident in Mount Hope in August 2012, in the middle of the day, with a drunk driver.

"I (got) hit head-on.  I was coming around that curve, and he was in my lane, and there was nowhere for me to go," said Newman.

Kelly Piatt's name is mentioned in the police report.

"I'm sitting here with permanent injuries, that's gonna sit here for the rest of my life," said Newman.

Newman says she believes Piatt went to the hospital after the crash and then took off to Kentucky, where he was from.

The Fayette County Prosecutor Attorney Carl Harris says it is difficult to charge drivers after crashes, because usually medical records need to be subpoenaed to prove the driver really was impaired.

In West Virginia, people who commit a crime are not extradited for misdemeanors, because of cost.  In the state, drunk driving with an injury, is considered a misdemeanor.

If someone is sentenced in a D.U.I. case with injury, the maximum they will get is one year.  If there's death, the maximum sentence is one year.  But if it's proved the driver was reckless in a fatal case, the sentence can be anywhere from two to ten years.

Meanwhile, Newman is just trying to move forward.

"I've got kids. What if it would've been worse," said Newman.

Newman says she will still have to continue going to physical therapy and that she will need future medical treatment.

Meanwhile, there is no word on where Piatt is tonight.