3-time DUI offender could get out of prison in 7 months

Shelby Smith sits injured in the car after being hit by a drunk driver. (Source: Shelby Smith)
Shelby Smith sits injured in the car after being hit by a drunk driver. (Source: Shelby Smith)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The woman nearly killed by a drunk driver two years ago said she's angry that his sentence is so short.

Around 7 p.m. September 13, 2016, Shelby Smith was talking on the phone to the man who would later become her husband.

The couple were about to meet for dinner when their whole world changed.

Steven Walls, with a blood alcohol content nearly twice the legal limit, slammed his pickup truck into Smith's Honda Accord.

Walls was driving the wrong direction on Highway 385. He was traveling south in the northbound lanes of the highway when the crash happened.

"I was on the phone with him when it happened, and he heard the whole thing," Smith said. "The first time my husband ever met my parents was in the emergency room of The Med."

Smith had a crushed lung and fractured ribs. Doctors had to place five metal plates in her face and her leg.

"My face was crushed by his tire," Smith said.

That crash was not a one time mistake for Walls. It was at least his third time getting behind the wheel drunk.

Walls pleaded guilty to DUI and vehicular assault. On Thursday, he was sentenced to three years in prison. Plus, he'll be eligible for parole in January 2019.

"That's not fair," Smith said. "I have to spend every day looking at these scars."

District Attorney Amy Weirich said her specialized DUI prosecution unit has an 85-90 percent conviction rate.

She said it's proof that if you break the law and drive drunk, Shelby County will prosecute you and send you to jail.

Weirich also said Tennessee's DUI laws are "fairly tough."

It's a description that is tough to hear for someone like Smith.

"Angry. Very angry because there are things that I can't do now, and there are things that make me want to curl up in bed, most of the day because I hurt."

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