Drunken driving, or DUI (driving under the influence), is a chargeable offense in Alabama, not only on public roads but also on public waterways throughout the state. As a Birmingham drunk driving defense lawyer, my advice to anyone taking the wheel of a car or the helm of a boat is don't do it if you've had too much to drink. Impaired judgment can result in a lifetime of hardship. Kill someone while intoxicated from alcohol or prescription drugs and you run the risk of jail time as well.
This scenario played out for a Montgomery, AL, man who recently received his sentence for a 2008 boating accident on Lake Martin in Elmore County. According to reports, 22-year-old Patrick Leigh Cumbie had a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.19 percent on an August night in 2008 when the speedboat he was piloting ran into a pontoon boat carrying a large number of people from Prattville.
According to court records, the crash killed Donnie Tatum and severely injured the man's sister-in-law, Sue Tatum. Ms. Tatum was knocked unconscious as a result of the impact and reportedly died in the hospital several months later. Three other people aboard the pontoon boat were also injured, but not seriously.
According to court reports, Cumbie had pleaded guilty to the deaths of Sue and Donnie Tatum in exchange for a plea deal. Relatives of the two deceased individuals also asked the court for leniency.
Cumbie was sentenced to 24 months for homicide by vessel, another 24 months for second degree assault, both felonies, and 12 months each for three misdemeanor assault charges — all to run concurrently based on the plea arrangement. Court records showed that Elmore County Circuit Judge Ben Fuller sentenced Cumbie to a year in the Elmore County Jail, followed by three years' probation.
Lake Martin double-fatal boat wreck: Family asks judge for leniency in BUI case, AL.com, January 12, 2010
Cumbie sentenced after boating DUI deaths, WSFA.com, January 11, 2010