Repeat drunk driving offenders are a major problem, both in Florida and nationally.
There are literally thousands of laws passed with the intent purpose of curbing drunk driving. While there strength and enforcement varies from state-to-state, repeat offenders routinely flout them regardless. In fact, one report indicated 70 percent of repeat offenders drive without a license.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) reports that a proportionately small percentage of drivers cause the majority of death and injury on our roads. In fact, roughly one-third of the arrests, crashes, deaths and injuries attributed to drunk driving involves a repeat offender.
Take the case of the 33-year-old Jacksonville man who stands accused of an April crash that led to the death of a 19-year-old. According to police reports of the crash, the teen was operating his motorcycle around 10:40 p.m. when the allegedly intoxicated restaurant manager turned left into the parking lot of an apartment complex. The two vehicles collided.
Authorities would later say the driver failed to yield the right-of-way to the motorcyclist, who died two weeks after the crash.
Police said the driver then left the scene.
That driver later – and likely to the dismay of his criminal defense attorney – granted a series of jailhouse interviews to a newspaper reporter while he awaits trial on charges of DUI manslaughter and hit-and-run.
He told the reporter he didn’t feel drunk that night after downing two margaritas with his girlfriend at a local restaurant. Although a police report indicates the driver didn’t consume any drinks at a bar after that, the driver told the reporter that in fact he did have beers at that bar.
When he was arrested, his blood-alcohol level was 0.18. He had initially refused to provide a blood sample, but police were able to obtain one through a warrant.
The driver insisted the motorcyclist’s lights were not on and he never saw him as he went to make that turn. While he says he is deeply remorseful for the incident, he rails against the fact the state never got him help for his alcoholism.
However, records show that’s not entirely true.
When defendant was 20, he was arrested and convicted for DUI in Tennessee in 2002. He was required to serve probation and 40 hours of community service. Six years later, he was convicted for DUI in Oklahoma. He was ordered into treatment and his license was revoked for a year. He was also convicted that same year of raping his girlfriend after he reportedly punched, bit and threw her during a drunken sexual encounter. He received a short jail sentence and eight years probation.
The following year, he moved to Florida and was convicted of DUI and leaving the scene of a crash. He received one year probation and a six month license suspension. He later failed to show up for alcohol treatment counseling and was convicted for violating his probation.
Then in 2010, he got 60 days in jail and 10 months probation and a suspended license for a conviction for refusing to submit to a breath or blood test following a hit-and-run crash.
Two years later, he was convicted twice for driving on a suspended license – something he admitted he did all the time because he had no other way to get to work.
He then admitted to the reporter the fatal crash that claimed the teen’s life happened after he’d been drinking at three different bars.
There is no excuse ever for driving drunk, but repeat offenders especially must be held to account. This offender may have been attempting to gain sympathy by telling his side of the story to a reporter before trial. However, in all likelihood, our DUI injury lawyers recognize he helped bolster the criminal and civil cases against him.
If you have been a victim of a traffic accident, call Chalik & Chalik at (954) 476-1000 or 1 (800) 873-9040.
Serial DUI driver laments over death of 19-year-old Jacksonville man, June 7, 2015, By Jim Schoettler, Jacksonville.com
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Browning v. Hickman – Fault in Car Accident Lawsuit Disputed, June 23, 2015, Fort Myers Drunk Driving Wrongful Death Attorney Blog