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November 9, 2012

Another extreme drunk driving death reinforces my eagerness for greater toughness and technology

In part because a new new drunk driving story involves roads I drive on every week, I find myself yet again annoyed and frustrated that our criminal justice system does not treat more seriously and systematically a crime that kills and hurts so many innocent people every year.  This local story, headlined "Columbus Man Involved In Fatal Delaware Crash Faces OVI Charge," provides the basic details:

A Columbus man has been arrested and charged with operating a vehicle while impaired after he was involved in a fatal crash in Delaware County Thursday night [at 8:45pm].  Troopers from the Delaware post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol say Marc Kraft’s blood-alcohol level was three times the legal limit at the time of the crash Thursday night....

Kraft has had five prior DUI convictions in Pennsylvania dating back to 1989 and he has been without an operator’s license since 1992.

This other local story has more details on the crime and the carnage:

Witnesses reported seeing Kraft drive between 80 and 100 miles per hour....

[Heidi] Hecker, 36, died at the scene of the crash.  A 10-month-old infant inside the Subaru was transported to Nationwide Children's Hospital and was listed in critical condition on Friday morning.  Brad Weaver, who was also in the Subaru, was transported for medical attention and listed as in critical condition.

To review: A loser with five prior DUI convictions and without a valid license for decades, while very drunk (with a BAC of at least .25), drives thirty MPH over the speed limit and slaughters an innocent woman and critically injures another man and an infant.  I continue to be troubled that we fail to apply some form of three-strikes (or four-strikes or five-strikes) and-you-are-out to serious drunk driving offenses like we do with many other plainly less dangerous crimes so that the tragic loss of innocent life in this case (and I suspect many others) might have been saved.  In addition, I continue to wish our society and car companies would worry less about helping us have new technologies to check twitter feeds in our cars and would instead develop new technologies to prevent anyone with a BAC above .10 from being able to get a car started.

Some related posts on my concerns about undue sentencing leniency for drunk drivers:

November 9, 2012 at 03:15 PM | Permalink

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Comments

This is equivalent to the man who goes to the top of the empire state building with a big rock, throws it over the top, and says "I pray it doesn't hit anyone"--and the rock of course kills 2 people. It's extreme indifference to human life and reckless--it's common law malice aforethougt -and is at least murder 2--and has been rightfully prosecuted as such. 20 minimum to life is fine with me for this killer.

Posted by: onlooker | Nov 9, 2012 3:51:02 PM

|| slaughters an innocent woman and critically injures another man and an infant. I continue to be troubled that we fail to apply some form of three-strikes (or four-strikes or five-strikes) and-you-are-out to serious drunk driving offenses...||

I concur. Very, very sad. A vehicle in the hands of a seriously inebriated git is as deadly as a firearm.

[Locally last month, we had a likewise inveterate man with 17 DWI prior convictions who plea bargained to 1 year his new charge--then appealed his sentence, no less].

Posted by: Adamakis | Nov 9, 2012 3:52:52 PM

This innocent woman was a dear friend. Her mother was killed by a drunk driver several years ago. I commend you for working toward tougher laws. I pray this man gets to pay for his crime.

Posted by: JoFo | Nov 9, 2012 4:54:02 PM

Risk and accountability are different issues. The responses to them have different objectives. Both are important. Nothing much will happen until the sentencing system is reengineered to accommodate this fact.

Posted by: Tom McGee | Nov 9, 2012 7:36:29 PM

I agree with Tom, I think. The laws we have today, punish people for the mere act of driving under the influence, something I am not sure is worthy of the taxpayers dollar in the criminal justice system. These same laws do not prevent someone with the pathological tendencies of the culprit in the story from doing what he did.

Posted by: Jardinero1 | Nov 9, 2012 8:45:18 PM

Prof. Berman: Sincerity test. One can end crashes by drunk drivers right now. Would you support the following?

1) Tort liability for the lawyers responsible for streeting this driver after the third conviction for DUI, including all judges? After the third conviction, this accident had the foreseeability of planetary orbits.

2) There are several systems that will drive cars to a location without a driver. There are programs that will find a shoulder to safely stop and park the car if the driving of the human driver is erratic, or unlawful. Why are they not in all cars yet? The lawyer will destroy the company for a negligently missing comma in a million lines of programming. Crush the lawyers, and immunize this technology so it can be in cars immediately.

I do not think the strength of your feelings about the people killed by drunk drivers, a nuber as great as that killed by murderers, is such, that you would be willing to restrain the lawyer profession. Right now, I consider every drunk driving death to be the fault of the lawyer profession since the Google car drove 300,000 miles driver free, and accident free.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 9, 2012 9:48:39 PM

Well no offense to tom and jardinero but based on this!

"Kraft has had five prior DUI convictions in Pennsylvania dating back to 1989 and he has been without an operator’s license since 1992."

I think he's about 3 convictions past not only locking his ass up for life but losing the cell once he's locked in it. For at least 20 years...that is how long the dumb fucktard has been driving with no lic!

Posted by: rodsmith | Nov 9, 2012 10:13:33 PM

Lock him up. He knew better and didn't care, and now someone is dead.

Posted by: federalist | Nov 11, 2012 3:05:43 PM

Hey all - if you're willing to support my friend Heidi's cause, and for all those who've gone before us due to drunk driving, personalize these documents and send them in to the Ohio Judicial committee. www.tinyurl.com/heidicause.

Thanks for your support.

Posted by: Trisha Jackson | Nov 12, 2012 9:12:12 AM

Rodsmith,

That is my point, the system does not address how to handle those who have lost their license to drive but continue to do so. The question I ask is what can we do to prevent those without a license from driving again? The perp has to get a car from someone/somewhere. Was it a family member enabling his car driving, a friend? My own experience, as an insurance agent, in dealing with claims involving unlicensed motorists, is that someone is loaning the unlicensed driver a car. The law should include stiff consequences for those driving without a license and even stiffer consequences for their enablers.

Posted by: Jardinero1 | Nov 12, 2012 11:33:57 AM

Heidi was my cousin, and a sweet, caring loving soul. To have this happen to her 12 years after it happened to her mother is just wrong. This guy should have been jailed a few conviction ago, not let out on the street to continue taking chances with the lives of innocent people. I commend you for working on tougher laws!!!

Posted by: Emms | Nov 12, 2012 12:38:45 PM

I will give you that one jardinero1. The sytem in other areas has no problem dragging in accessories even those who had no figgin clue what has happening. So why not with DUI....i'll tell you. It would force the public and the state to face the real problem. The enablers as you know as well as we all do.

If the state can show any evidence at all the owner of the vehicle should have know his license was revoked they should be punished as an acccessory to his crime.

Posted by: rodsmith | Nov 12, 2012 1:00:56 PM

As for this part!

"That is my point, the system does not address how to handle those who have lost their license to drive but continue to do so. The question I ask is what can we do to prevent those without a license from driving again?"

That's easy. You punish it as you would any other repeat felon who continues to comit crimes.

While getting drunk can be diagnosed as an alcoholic.... once you move from getting drunk to comitting a crime. You go to prison. Repeat offenses especialy the same damn one should call for increased punishment.

Especialy in a case like this where he's had at least a decade to get help for his drinking problem.

Posted by: rodsmith | Nov 12, 2012 1:03:45 PM

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