Those hit by a drunk driver in Missouri are not seeing the appropriate justice. Drunk drivers are being released from prison all too quickly, says Mike Boland, executive director of the Gateway Chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
The organization has been trying to raise awareness in the public about a recent issue involving an accident that took the life of an 18-year-old female who was involved in an alcohol-related motorcycle accident back in 1995, according to STL Today. The driver, a 21-year-old Arizona State University student, was tried for the accident and pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated in St. Louis County.
Our Missouri injury attorneys understand that drunk drivers pose serious threats to other motorists. Being involved in a drunk driving accident in Jolpin, the Bootheel, Colombia, Springfield or elsewhere in Missouri can result in serious or fatal injuries. You are advised to contact a lawyer immediately if you've been involved in an accident with an intoxicated driver.
The at-fault driver in this case pleaded guilty to charges of manslaughter and served five years in prison. Some members of Gateway Chapter of MADD contacted and wrote letters to the court asking that the driver serve more time behind bars. What angers the members of M.A.D.D. even more is that after serving his time, the motorcyclist racked up two more DWIs, one in 2008 and one in 2009.
The law for drunk driving offenses in Missouri is a graduated one, as charges can range within several different levels of various misdemeanors and felonies. The severity of each charge is determined by the number of previous offenses.
Prosecutors in St. Louis County recently charged him as a persistent offender, which is a felony charge that comes with a maximum sentence of four years in prison. When the driver was sentenced again in January, he received three years and six months behind bars.
Shortly after the drunk driver was sentenced, MADD discovered that he had a hearing in May that could possibly set a date for his release. That hearing doesn't guarantee he will be released early, but the board could decide to revisit that proposal in a few months. A decision has not yet been made.
The attorney for this alleged offender is seeking treatment for the driver's drinking, but ultimately the length of his sentence will be determined by the Missouri Department of Probation and Parole.
The Department of Probation and Parole reports that in 2010 drivers convicted of a DWI served an average of 40 percent of their given sentence. Even worse, some offenders convicted of a felony, depending on the circumstances, serve just 15 percent of their sentence, which in this particular case would keep him behind bars for a week shy of seven months.
"People wonder why we're called MADD, and it's simple," says Boland. "If you're looking for justice in drunk driving, it's very, very hard to find."
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 11,000 people were killed in accidents that involved an alcohol-impaired driver in the United States in 2009. Alcohol-related driving fatalities make up more than 30 percent of all the motor-vehicle traffic fatalities in the entire country. In the same year, drivers between the ages of 21 and 24 had the highest percentage of fatal accidents with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or above.
In Missouri, nearly 400 people were killed in 2009 by traffic accidents involving an intoxicated driver.