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Defendant in Landmark DUI Case Released from Prison

Thomas Jones, who was imprisoned in North Carolina 15 years ago for killing two people in a drunk driving accident, will be released from prison on Wednesday, according to state officials.

Jones, now 54, was the first person to be charged with murder for impaired-driving under a North Carolina law that was enacted in 1997 which allowed the state to bring murder charges against drunk drivers who caused fatal accidents.

The crash occurred when Jones collided with another vehicle, killing two members of a Wake Forest sorority and injuring four others. A blood test revealed the presence of alcohol and prescription medication in his system at the time of the crash.

In 2000, the North Carolina Supreme Court overturned Jones' conviction, ruling that charging him with first-degree murder was unwarranted. Prosecutors then charged him with second-degree murder, to which he pleaded guilty in 2003.

As a condition of his plea, Jones will be prohibited from driving and from frequenting bars upon his release, stated a Corrections Department official. In addition, he must abstain from drugs and alcohol, and must undergo counseling and submit to random drug testing.