Tougher Drunk Driving Penalties

Too often we act without thinking which leads to unfortunate consequences for ourselves and for those around us.

Several months ago, two of the most influential, kind hearted teachers (Mr T & Mrs T) at my High School Alma Mater were hit head-on in a devastating Drunk Driving Car accident.  Fortunately, they both survived, although Mr T suffered severe injuries.  He is currently undergoing rehabilitation and will likely be in that process for a long time.  It has had a devastating impact on his family and my hometown community where both taught for many many years.  They are some of the lucky ones though, many other families out there won’t ever get a second chance.

Ken Stoker, another of Marion’s wonderful High School’s teachers wrote an essay about the accident and Leandra’s Law recently, which was published in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.  I’d like to share that with you here to spread the word.

Enact tougher drunken driving laws

It was good to read headline news about “Leandra’s Law,” which went into effect in New York this past Friday. I applaud the new Child Passenger Protection Act but I feel it needs to be broadened to cover all victims of involved alcohol-related accidents.

While attorneys might go to court and argue that the driver of this and similar crimes deserves another chance because this had “only been a first, second or third offense” (what is the difference?), we all know that victims in such horrendous accidents do not even have the luxury of one day in court, let alone a “second chance.”

Their lives are either ended, or at best changed forever because of another’s irresponsibility.

Until several weeks ago, I guess I had been lucky to have only read or heard about such tragedies. This type of pain and suffering always had happened to “someone else.”

All that changed on Friday, Oct. 16, when two of my closest friends, professional colleagues and community leaders faced their own “near-death” experiences when their car was hit by another car driven by a man who had allegedly been drinking alcohol earlier that day.

He was charged with driving while intoxicated. Eight weeks after the accident, one of the innocent victims is slowly regaining limited movement.

It is a sad but familiar story.

These two accident scenarios are grotesquely similar, if perhaps only because they both have involved helpless victims whose lives have been taken or drastically changed in an instant.

And while there can never be any total guarantee that such events will never happen again to any one of us, a law with the same bite to it as the new “Leandra’s Law” needs to be enacted as quickly as this one has been to cover all victims of crimes involving drunken drivers, not just children.

We’ve all heard that “everyone makes a mistake and should be given a second chance.” That may work for some things, but not for the drunken driver.

I counter that neither Leandra Rosado nor the countless others who have been killed or maimed by drunken drivers’ reckless actions are really given a second chance to resume their lives normally.

Familiarity with the law should already count as that “first chance.”
Breaking the law should then be met with the same immediate and harsh punishment as outlined in “Leandra’s Law.”

~Ken Stoker – retired teacher of German and English, currently working around the world as an instructor for Academic Services International.

I’m appalled by these sorts of occurrences and disgusted by the lawyers who defend them.  If it were up to me, there’d be no second chances.  Stiffer penalties for those caught drunk driving, and permanent license revocation for those involved in an accident while under the influence.  No reductions, lawyer or no lawyer.

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2 thoughts on “Tougher Drunk Driving Penalties

  1. Randy,Thanks for the kind comments. I hope some of the emotion now turns to action. I have contacted area NY senators and I am serious abolur following through to see if the law can be toughened. I am sure it will take time, but I am sure that if Leandra's dad could do it in a month…those who are conceened can push and push til something is done. I will be approaching participatory government classes in MArion and where I now live in Gates to get involved to contact legislators. If ytou want to know why I am obsessed with this right now, visit Bruce in the Jewish Home. First, I am sure he would like to see you. Each time I visit I come away angry at the criminal who did this and returned to the classroom the following week to teach. Pardon me, but BARF! The onky thing that makes me more sick are the lawyers you referenced who defend such scum. Coming home one night from the nursing home I heard an ad for such a law firm which specializes in fighting to restore lisences of those with DWI convictions! Double BARF.I have hope that if Leandra's Law came into effect so quickly, a stronger law can also be forged. Write everyone you know to spread the word…this type of senseless crime has to end.Wishing you and your family a joyous Christmas…hope we can talk "live" some time.Ken

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