The story came from Tampa, Florida, and it was one that we couldn’t help but call attention to. 10News told the story of Kevin Williams, a young man with a bad track record as one of many DUI drivers behind the wheel. The news crew started paying attention when he was arrested for his third DUI offense. But that is not the worst part of this story. Williams didn’t learn his lesson. He went on, repeating this bad habit, this potentially deadly habit, and was involved in two hit-and-run accidents that occurred within minutes of each other. In his hurry to get away from the scene of one accident, he caused another, and ran from that as well. His excuse? He was so drunk that he doesn’t even remember doing it.
This isn’t a one-of-a-kind story. Though we reside in St. Petersburg, we hear the stories of friends and loved ones from elsewhere in the country, and they have equally disturbing tales to tell. Just last weekend, we heard of a man in his 40s who had a very nasty legal record, including several DUI offenses. He climbed behind the wheel on a Friday night after having had far too much to drink. Before pulling away from the parking lot, he ensured that all four of his passengers were seated and “holding on.” Then, he took off. By the time his car crashed, he was traveling at 100 miles per hour. The impact was severe. He and three of his passengers were able to walk away from the tremendous crash. But, the youngest, the man’s young daughter, was not so fortunate. She was pronounced dead at a medical facility just a few short miles from the scene of the accident. The man is now facing a rather long prison sentence, but people are still angry. Why are these people allowed to repeat their mistakes time and time again, until someone is seriously injured or killed?
According to 10News, “Williams is just one of 113,076 three-time DUI offenders in the state of Florida.” They are still driving, on the same Saint Petersburg highways as you and your family. Because of this, they are proposing the use of a new technology that would make it possible for authorities to keep an eye on past DUI offenders. A special bracelet would detect the presence of alcohol in the body’s system, so police would know when a DUI offender had anything to drink. Currently, third time DUI offenders are required to use a breathalyzer interlock system, which prevents the car from starting if the person demonstrates a blood alcohol level over the legal limit.
There are too many ways to get around the device, say some proponents of the bracelet. A friend can blow into the device and then hand the keys to a drunk friend. The DUI offender can borrow another vehicle. They’ve seen it happen, and so have we. That’s why there are four-time offenders currently serving time.
If you are involved in an accident with a drunk driver, you do have rights. That person can be taken to court twice – once as a criminal, and again in civil court – so you can seek damages to cover the cost of your losses. We still support any efforts made to stop repeat DUI offenses. After all, monetary settlements can’t bring back loved ones.