As many as 29% of all motor vehicle accident fatalities are caused by alcohol-impaired driving according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This equates to a staggering 30 people dying every day due to drunk drivers on the highways and byways of the USA. With the world seemingly at their feet, it is still somewhat surprising that a string of celebs, including the likes of Paris Hilton, Michael Phelps, and Justin Bieber have all been charged with driving under the influence. While most of them got off with a mere slap on the wrist, former Little Women: Atlanta star Melissa Hancock was not as fortunate as she was sentenced to 16 years behind bars on October 10 following an incident that took place last November.
Clerical error nullifies DUI charge
On the 23rd of May this year, Hancock (25) pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter, failing to obey a highway sign, and driving the wrong way on Interstate 264. Due to a clerical error, Hancock did not plead guilty to the DUI charge. The fatal accident occurred at about 2am on 4 November 2017. According to Hancock she consumed approximately four mixed drinks about 60 minutes before the crash. An hour later her blood content still tested at 0.194 – more than twice the legal limit. She knew that she was unable to drive in a responsible manner but instead of getting someone else to drive her home or pulling over, she took to the road. According to Hancock’s attorney, she too was severely injured. He continued to state that she needed round-the-clock care and mentioned that he was very concerned about how her injuries would be handled in jail.
The deceased was a petty officer in the Coast Guard
On the morning of the accident, Daniel Dill (29) was on his way to pick up his wife and her friends after a night out celebrating her birthday. Earlier that night, the petty officer enjoyed what was to be his last dinner with his wife and her family, before volunteering to be the designated driver for the night, allowing his wife Natalie to enjoy a few drinks at the Oceanfront. Hancock crashed her Cadillac head-on into Dill’s Mazda sedan. He sustained critical injuries to the head and spinal cord and died from them the following day after his family decided to cease medical treatment after the severity of his injuries were explained.
The term Hancock received was more than twice what was recommended by state sentencing guidelines. Hopefully the harsh sentence will deter other individuals from making the same mistake that can cost innocent victims their lives and them their freedom.