How Severely Should DUI Be Punished?

This may be a touchy topic for some of you and many may take exception to what I say, but in the light of several recent news stories, I feel it necessary to express my opinion on the subject of driving while under the influence and more specifically, driving while drunk.

My question is, how should the legal system treat drunk drivers?

I was reading the case of Carlos A. Martinelly-Montano who was driving while drunk in August of 2010 when he caused a crash that killed Catholic nun Sister Denise Mosier and severely injured sisters Connie Ruth Lupton and Charlotte Lange.  Prior to the accident, Martinelly-Montano had been convicted twice for drunk driving and was facing a deportation hearing since he was in the US illegally from Bolivia.

Had the Commonwealth of Virginia taken a stronger stance on drunk driving and jailed Martinelly-Montano after his second DUI conviction, the three nuns could have been spared the horrible crash that killed one and caused severe brain damage to another.

In the metropolitan area where I live, there have been several cases in the past few years when someone was driving drunk and caused an accident that either severely injured or killed an innocent motorist.  In these cases, the intoxicated drivers had over 20 DUI convictions (over 30 convictions in one case that resulted in a death) and they were driving on suspended licenses.

My question to authorities is why were these people not in jail after so many DUI convictions?

Growing up, I had three very close friends who I was closer to than my own brothers.  One Friday afternoon, they were on their way to pick me up when another driver hit them.  According to witnesses, my friends were making a right turn on a green light when the other driver ran the red light and struck their car right at the doors on the driver’s side.  Since the other driver was speeding, the impact was so severe that it caused JJ’s car to completely wrap around the light pole on the corner, sheer it off and carry it another 10 feet.

JJ, who was driving, was killed instantly.  Mike, who was sitting in the back seat behind JJ died in the operating room two hours later.  Roger, who was sitting in the front passenger seat died from injuries 2 days later.

The driver of the other car had a blood alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit.  He sustained fairly minor injuries because of his relaxed drunken state.  Although he had no prior DUI convictions, he had been arrested three times for DUI, but managed to buy his way out of any convictions.  He ended up paying $150 in total fines and was acquitted by a judge (no jury) on the vehicular manslaughter charges.

What I’ve seen over the years is that no one seems to take drunk driving very seriously.  People are given a slap on the hands and told not to do it again, which they usually do anyway.  Yet drunk drivers account for a significant number of deaths, injuries and property damage.

Years ago I recall reading of one small country that took drunk driving very seriously.  First offense was a substantial jail term and second offense was punishable by death.  At one time, this small nation had the lowest incidences of DUI per capita of any nation in the world.  However, liberals have taken over and their laws have been revised to match those of the rest of the world, resulting in a dramatic rise in DUI accidents and deaths.

I believe that someone knows if they will have to drive after drinking and their decision to drink beyond the point of being impaired is also a conscious decision.  Therefore, to knowingly drink to intoxication and driving after, is premeditated and the person must knowingly accept the consequences of their premeditated actions.  If it results in an injury or death, then that injury or death must be considered premeditated also and the person be charged accordingly.

However, I understand that alcoholism is a disease, and like many diseases is treatable.  Therefore, upon the first conviction of a DUI, the person should be mandatorily committed to a detox facility and not released until they have been completely cured of their alcoholism.

If the person is convicted a second time of a DUI, it should be a mandatory prison sentence of at least 10 years without any chance of probation or parole.  During this sentence they are again put through a detox program.

A third offense then needs to be treated as a three-strikes-you’re-out crime which should carry a mandatory 25 years (with detox) without probation or parole.

If all of the states implemented laws close to this and were able to keep the social do-gooders out of the system, I guarantee that people would start to think first about drinking and driving.

I know many of you will disagree, but I bet you would change your mind if you lost a loved one or dear friend to someone that was driving drunk after being convicted by the courts several times previously and still allowed to be free and drive.  But if it never happens to you, ask yourself how many others must experience the lost or injury of a loved one before you agree that we need to start taking drunk driving more seriously?