Commonwealth v. Paul James Williams; Defendant Playing Pokemon Go and Driving with BAC of .31 Sentenced to Over 6 Years

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Colin D. Stolle, Commonwealth's Attorney for the city of Virginia Beach, announced that Paul James Williams, age 48, formerly of the 700 block of Linden Court in Virginia Beach, Virginia, was sentenced today by Circuit Court Judge Glenn C. Croshaw for DUI – Reckless – Victim Permanently Impaired, Hit and Run – Personal Injury, Hit and Run – Property Damage, and DUI. Judge Croshaw sentenced Williams to 25 years and 365 days in prison, with 19 years and 335 days suspended, leaving a total sentence of 6 years and 30 days to serve. 

This sentence was well above the high-end of the recommendation of the Virginia State Sentencing Guidelines, which called for a sentence range of 1 day to 6 months in jail.  When pronouncing his sentence, Judge Croshaw remarked that this was the "most egregious DUI that I have heard" and that the defendant's actions were "reckless beyond anything I can contemplate."  Judge Croshaw also stated that there could have been four to five dead victims as a result of the defendant's behavior.

Williams pled guilty on December 21, 2016.  Had this matter gone to trial, the Commonwealth's evidence would have proven that at approximately 7:40 p.m. on August 5, 2016, Paul Williams rear-ended another vehicle on Holland Road in Virginia Beach.  He failed to stop at this scene and continued driving, heading westbound in the eastbound lane.  He then came back into the westbound lane by crossing the median and began to drive on the sidewalk.  While traveling on the sidewalk, Williams struck a 16-year-old girl who was walking with her friend.  Williams again fled the scene.  He moved back onto the roadway and struck another vehicle.  He did not stop and struck a third vehicle which was stopped in a left turn lane. Again, he continued driving.  Two witnesses in separate vehicles followed Williams as he fled the scene.  Another citizen attempted to stop Williams' car with his own vehicle.  Williams again went onto the sidewalk to avoid the citizen and ran a red light.  His vehicle became disabled at Holland Road and South Plaza Trail, likely as a result of the damage from the various crashes.

The juvenile victim was transported to the hospital where medical personnel determined that she had a two-inch in diameter hole in her back which went to her spinal cord.  She suffered several broken vertebrae in her lower back.  Blood and hair fragments were found on the defendant's vehicle indicated that the crumpled hood pierced the victim's back, and her head struck the windshield.  Although the victim retains complete motor function today, she suffers from back pain and has a significant scar on her middle back. 

Officers from the Virginia Beach Police Department's Fatal Crash Team responded to the scene and began a DUI investigation.  Williams had slurred speech, bloodshot, watery eyes, a strong odor of alcohol, and he swayed while standing and walking.  He showed signs of impairment during the field sobriety tests.  Williams admitted drinking three vodka drinks and two beers prior to the crash.  Hospital records show that the serum blood/alcohol level was .36g/DL, which yields a whole blood/alcohol level of .31.  Williams also told police that during the initial crash, he was on his phone playing the Pokemon Go game. 

Williams has prior convictions for DUI in 2002 and Hit and Run in 2004.  At the time of these offenses, he was awaiting trial on charges of Public Intoxication and Possession of Marijuana, for which he has since been convicted.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney S. Mario Lorello prosecuted this case. Please contact Macie Allen if additional information is desired.