Man convicted in fatal I-540 crash in legal trouble again

Chris Petersen (Image courtesy Wake County Sheriff's Office)
October 25, 2012 3:49:08 PM PDT
Going to The Wake County Courthouse is something Chris Petersen has done many times before. His latest DWI is the fourth charge he's faced since he was 17-years-old. Our Ed Crump caught up with him on the way out to talk about his most recent run-in with the law and his history of legal trouble.

Ed Crump: "Why don't you stop and talk to us? I mean, this has been going on for years now"

Petersen: "I don't feel like you guys accurately report anything and it makes me look worse at this point, you know, than it did originally"

In May of 2001, Petersen was racing with another car on I-540 which crashed and killed all four teens inside.  He was sobbing on the side of the road at the scene of the incident.

Petersen later stood trial for manslaughter, but when it was discovered that one witness was given a deal on other charges prosecutors offered him a plea bargain.  The deal kept him out of jail, but without driving privileges.

Two years later Eyewitness News caught Petersen driving, which was a violation of his probation.  "I kind of got railroaded when I violated probation because I was re-licensed by DMV.  I was under the impression that I was allowed to be re-licensed.  My multiple probation officers knew I was driving," Petersen said.

That incident got Petersen 90 days in jail. It also kicked off an investigation into how the DMV could relicense someone prohibited from driving.

But that wasn't the end of his driving troubles.

Two years later he was charged in a hit and run accident.  Before the case was settled he was charged with a DWI for blowing two points over the .08 legal limit. Petersen was convicted of both.

Now, Petersen has been charged with another DWI and he can't understand why.

Petersen: "What makes it a news story currently? Two or three people were charged with a DUI right in front of me. There's thousands and thousands of DUI convictions per year."

Ed Crump: "They weren't involved in a crash that killed four teenagers."

While Petersen down-played his latest DWI, he did not downplay his role in the fatal crash eleven years ago.  

Petersen: "I had a lot of responsibility with that and learned, you know, a lot of lessons you know…"

Ed Crump: "Well, some people would say you haven't learned lessons because you're still breaking driving laws."

Petersen: " .. what I've been convicted of.. blowing a .10.. I was barely over the limit.. I don't really feel like that is that extreme"

Petersen said he never intended on driving again and hasn't had a license or a vehicle for over three years.  The car he was driving when he was stopped last month belonged to a woman who was also charged for letting him get behind the wheel.

Petersen: "I don't even want to drive. It's not worth it to me anymore. "

Ed Crump:"So you can promise the public- including the parents of those four kids- that Chris Petersen will never get another DWI?"

Petersen: " WelI, can't promise anything unfortunately"

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