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ONLY ON 3: Driver involved in deadly accident may keep license even after DWI charge

READ MORE: ONLY ON 3: Driver involved in deadly accident may keep license even after DWI charge

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) -- We've learned there's a loophole in the law that let's some drivers charged with DWI keep their license and keep on driving even if they've killed someone.

Richard Constantineau's still pretty beat up after hitting a woman head-on last week. The wreck killed her, and investigators say he had some sort of drugs in his system.

Constantineau is out of the hospital and out of jail now, but he still has his driver license.

The NC Highway Patrol says he crossed the center line on NC 211 last week, hit 23-year-old Stephanie Heath head-on and killed her instantly. He's charged with felony death by vehicle and DWI. And now, if he wants, he can get right back behind the wheel.

You probably are asking the same thing we are: how does that happen?

First we called District Attorney Rex Gore, who said this isn't his case, so he wouldn't comment on it and recommended we call ADA Sarah Garner, who's prosecuting the case.

Garner said the case is pending, so she absolutely would not comment on it either.

We explained to her that we didn't want to talk specifics, but rather about the loophole and how the law allows some people charged with DWI to get right back in the drivers seat. She still refused to answer questions, so we called Gore back.

Even on the second call he couldn't answer our questions.

So here's what we've been able to find out so far. According to Highway Patrol, if a driver is in an accident and law enforcement does not give a breathalyzer or take a blood sample at the scene, his or her license cannot be instantly revoked.

A judge could decide to take away his driving privileges if the DA's office makes a recommendation, but that hasn't happened in Constantineau's case. And no matter what the judge decides, the DMV can override it at any time.

Police say Constantineau has several broken ribs and he's in a lot of pain, so he probably will not physically be able to drive, but as we mentioned, legally, he could be sharing the road with us at any time.

For full disclosure we want to remind you that Heath's father Ray works here at WWAY.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.



I had a friend that was an Alcoholic. He said when he drank, at some point around 5 beers, he wouldn't remember anything that happened after that. He would wake up the next day having no clue what he did the night before.

How is charging $$$ or taking license going to stop someone when they don't even know what they are doing?

loophole in the law

I live in Florida. And I can tell you, this guy would not be on the street. He would have been tested at the hospital, and brought to jail immediatly after being released from the hospital. Our DA would have been there min's after he was admitted, and seen to it that he was tested. This was NOT and accident! He was deliberate in his action and knew what he was doing, as well as made a concious move by getting behind the wheel. I say a protest to prosicute is called for.

The felon's broken ribs are

The felon's broken ribs are painful. So he doesn't feel like driving probably. That's too bad. I hope his painful remorse will keep him out of the driver's seat forever. And if not, I hope the law will. Certainly, the Heath's pain will be far more enduring than his.

Who is to blame?

Hey R.C. Soles besides working on "BS" laws helping your good old buddies out. How about working on these so called loop holes and take these drunks off our streets and highways. This man has no more business behind the wheel of a car than you or your buddy Rex Gore behind the desk of the NC house or the DA's office.

You can not blame the law

You can not blame the law enforcement officer for this....he is not authorized to pick up the drivers license in this case. When the paperwork goes to Raleigh from the magistrate they can take action. The results of the blood test will be pending from the NCSBI lab for several weeks.

Our legal system..

What a joke...

i agree

if you have money you can buy your way out of anything. aka legal system is nothing but a joke wait until someone drunk kills someones loved one when they let a drunk driver repeat go unpunished. Greed leading this world to hott place where its all on fire, and saffo is on the right side of the devil plus the conscil of the city.

The Parents

of the departed have shown more grace and understanding than I believe most people could.

Heck of a way for the Law to show the fatality was not in vain.

What was the bail amount?

What is he driving as it appeared the vehicle in the accident was not driveable?

Anyone loaning this man a vehicle to drive should be held as accountable as he should he repeat any traffic offense.

One of the lessons learned in Vietnam was to beware the fury of a patient man.

Hopefully Sheriff Ingram will post a 24 hour deputy on this bozo so anytime he drives he's followed. Anytime he stops to buy alcohol, its recorded.

If he repeats the offense, double tap him.

It looks like the money was

It looks like the money was put in the right pocket

and we wonder why

Well lets see how long it takes for him to kill somebody else. Then I want the news to cover it over and over and the DA get on there and say this was a shame. Don't let the jerk back out on the road,,, We all should march down to the court house and demand answers

I thought the driving while

I thought the driving while impaired (DWI) covered alcohol and drugs. Did it not replace the driving under influence (DUI) for the specific reason to include drugs? The fact is, a young woman who shared the road with this guy, depending on law enforcement and the court system to keep her safe, was killed because of this person's actions and failure to stay in his lane. He, based on his record, should never have been licensed to drive. Now, he is probably driving right now. As for Rex Gore, I wouldn't expect much more from him. Guess he's having to check with R.C. Soles to see if Constantineau is a buddy of his.


How typical

WTH???? this is why people

WTH???? this is why people keep driving drunk, because nothing happens to them! what will it take to get these people off the streets (besides them killing themselves in an accident). the whole judicial system needs an overhaul!!!

No...this isn't why people continue to drive drunk...

...they do it because they can. We have rapists, murderers, robbers, thieves and child molesters to keep in prison!!! What do you want? A life sentence without parole for a DUI? It just isn't going to happen!!!

BUT...the judge could order that DUI convictions require that both hands and both feet get amputated prior to their release back into the public sector.


No, a life sentence is too good for them, once they are found guilty of driving while impaired and for killing an innocent driver they should be sentenced to death. Plain and simple. The whole process should only take 1 month from sentencing to lethal injection, which in my opinion is too good for them. They should be hung from a short rope at the front of the court house steps for anyone wishing to witness justice. If our limp wristed milk toast spined politicians and law makers would grow a real back bone and put this into law these idiots and murderers would stop driving while impaired.


I don't think a life sentence for a DWI is what anyone is looking for. What I do believe is that he did murder an innocent person. I understand that he did not premeditate this murder however he is responsible for her death. In my heart and in my mind, this should put him in jail right along with those murderers, rapists and child molesters that you speak of in your post. The fact that cases like this are not handled properly is exactly why people will continue to drive under the influence and innocent people will continue to die.