Man arrested for five-year-old DWI charge

By DeeAnna Haney | Sep 20, 2013
Daniel Dotson

A man who has avoided arrest since failing to appear in court in April for a five-year-old  DWI charge is now in custody at the Haywood County Detention Center.

Daniel Eugene Dotson, 30,  has yet to see his day in court for wrecking into a Waynesville residence while driving drunk in October 2008.

The then 25-year-old Dotson was driving around 3 a.m. when his small SUV spun out of control, hit a tree in the yard of Barbara and Chuck Zimmerman and then collided with the front of their home. After stumbling from the smoking car, he was arrested for driving while impaired.

It’s now been five years since Dotson collided with their home, and he has yet to see his day in court for the charge. After their homeowner's insurance failed to cover the damage to the house, Chuck Zimmerman was left to make repairs himself, a long-term project that he's still working on.

There have been a number of court dates, several failures to appear and continuances and he’s also served time for charges outside Haywood County since then.

Dotson’s rap sheet goes back to 2005 when he was first convicted of driving while impaired in Henderson County. He also has served time for a DWI in Buncombe County in 2010 and then for being a habitual impaired driver, which is a felony, in Madison County in 2011.

The Zimmermans have been to all of Dotson’s court dates, at least six, in search of some sort of justice.

They thought that day had come in January, but Dotson’s case was continued when the lab analyst who performed his blood alcohol test was not available to appear in court.

When his court date finally came up again in April, he failed to appear again, and District Court Judge Donna Forga gave an order for his arrest and issued a $100,000 secured bond. However, Dotson was nowhere to be found.

Police have been on the lookout for Dotson since April, even placing him on the list of most wanted fugitives. On Sept. 6, Buncombe County deputies arrested Dotson and he was escorted to the county line and placed in custody of Haywood County deputies.

“We’re glad that he’s finally been caught again,” said Chuck Zimmerman, adding that he plans to be in the courtroom again Sept. 24, when Dotson is supposed to appear.

Ellen Pitt, MADD representative for western North Carolina, said this case is a prime example of how victims rights are sometimes overshadowed in the court system. To her, seeing a DWI case continue for five years is outrageous.

"It's as if the victims have no rights at all," she said.