Tulsa Man Sentenced To Prison on Drunk Driving Conviction
Thursday, April 27th 2006, 9:27 AM CDT
A drunk driver who ran down a Claremore woman in a Tulsa mall parking lot is sentenced to 2 years in prison.
The victim, who is still recovering since being hit last December, says she's happy the driver will spend some time behind bars. She's just surprised at the charges that got him there.
News on 6 Heather Lewin says though her body has healed, Linda McDaniel is still recovering, emotionally and financially from that December day when she simply walked across a store parking lot and was run over. "It was a miracle is all I can say, my doctor said I should've been dead or paralyzed."
A series of surgeries repaired the damage, but she says the incident will affect the rest of her life. "I'm very careful crossing streets and parking lots and don't assume people are going to stop for you when they're supposed to."
The driver was Charles Chenoweth, a man with a history of alcohol related arrests. Because her injuries were included in the police report, McDaniel thought they'd automatically be part of the criminal case filed in court, but the man who ran her down was charged simply with DUI and having an open container of alcohol. "It was very frustrating and kinda gets you upset that you're the victim and nothing's being done or you're not even mentioned in the sentencing."
"It happens quite often, basically because victims don't know they need to call the DA's office and let them know they've been a victim of this crime." MADD's Vicky Roberts says often with repeat offenders, when the first charge is lessened, it often takes several more violations before a DUI is considered a felony.
Court records show Chenoweth's first DUI arrest was reduced when he pleaded guilty to public drunk. That made a September 2000 DUI a midsemeanor. February 2004, another public drunk and now, a felony DUI conviction that got him 2 years.
Linda McDaniel: "At least he did get some time and he'll have to pay for part of what he did here."
Vicky Roberts: "I think our traffic DA's are overworked, I know the DA is trying to get more money because the whole system is overworked they're carrying too many cases, so it's up to the victims."
Vicky Roberts said 2 years is a fair sentence for a felony DUI, but had McDaniel's injuries been considered the penalty could've more severe.
The News on 6 spoke to the prosecutor who handled the case. She said it's not unusual to charge such crimes this way, because the sentencing possibilites for a felony DUI and a DUI with personal injury carry the same penalty, 1 to 5 years in prison.