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March 20, 2009

Another drunk driving sentencing story we can follow on the sports pages

I suppose I should be glad that during March Madness I can keep up with sentencing news in the sports pages.  But, I am not glad to learn from this SI.com article, that a recent driving fatality caused by a famous athlete is more than just a terrible accident:

Miami television station and newspaper are reporting that blood tests show that Cleveland Brown wide receiver Donte Stallworth was driving drunk when he fatally struck a pedestrian last weekend.

WSVN-TV reported Thursday that unnamed sources with knowledge of the investigation say that Stallworth's blood-alcohol level was .12. The legal limit is .08.  The Miami Herald also reported Thursday that an unnamed source says Stallworth's blood-alcohol level was above the legal limit.

Regular readers are probably tired of my posts complaining about the large number of fatalities caused by drunk driving and about my belief that we might deter some of these deaths if we were much tougher on drunk driving.  Nevertheless, I cannot help but wonder if a much tougher sentence for Charles Barkey, the last prominent athlete convicted and slapped on the wrist from drunk driving, might have led Donte Stallworth to think a little harder before getting behind the wheel while drunk last weekend.

March 20, 2009 at 12:00 PM | Permalink


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I am the mother of a drunk driving fatality Misty Dawn Hunter 12-09-2001. She was the desginated driver and was sober. The man that killed not only her but her friend Toni Maxwell the mother of 2 small boys was given 2 six year sentences for thier deaths. The judge stacked them so he is serving 12 years. He was a first time DUI. I thank you for writting this as do all the members of MADD. I live in the Dallas TX area and we led the state in these deaths and our state leds the nation. I am a native Texan and we like our bragging rights here but this is one that we should all be hanging our heads in shame over. The Cowboys are frequently in the news for drugs and intoxication with little or no punishment. I don't know what it will take to get this through peoples heads. I do Victim Impact Panels at least 4 times a month in this area Dallas alone has at least 200 to 300 first time DUI drivers in these meetings. We tell how the choice to drive and drink has forever altered our lives but each month the numbers grow. I am a nurse and have been for 32 years and I can tell you that it is a helpless feeling I have each time I do these meetimgs Ipoor out my heart and it is painful to relive that day 4 times a month it is like it happens over and over again. People please contact your local MADD office and ask about attending one of these meetings maybe then it will changes your mind about what a few drink can cost others.

Posted by: Cheryl Hunter | Mar 20, 2009 1:17:51 PM

The answer to your question, professor, is unquestionably "no."

Posted by: Anon | Mar 20, 2009 1:56:55 PM

Not to belittle Ms. Hunter's loss, but the offense she describes is not driving while intoxicated. Rather, the offenses are intoxication manslaughter. Despite what the hysteria would have us believe, they are different, and are not always related. Yes, people sometimes are killed or injured in traffic accidents where an operator has been drinking. The attempt to equate traffic accident injuries and deaths to drinking before driving dilutes the message; I can tell you now that many already suspect that back-door prohibitionists are the driving force behind such an operation as MADD. Yes, drinking to intoxication before operating a motor vehicle is stupid and illegal, but the urge to criminalize all drinking before driving--and redefining "intoxication" to even lower BAC limits--probably energizes more people to oppose such an operation as MADD. Individual cases make bad law; demonizing the legal consumption of alcohol by attempting to tie the millstone of traffic fatalities around its neck--as if one automatically leads to the other, does little more than cause most of the target audience to completely dismiss the message.

Posted by: Mark | Mar 20, 2009 3:30:43 PM

Somehow I doubt that a Charles Barkley bigger sentence would have affected this one. Doug, we never hear this, what's your view about a sentence for a first-time DUI offender who harms no one?

Stallworth and Leyritz (remember him?) deserve serious time.

Posted by: federalist | Mar 21, 2009 9:20:17 AM

If we presume the driver was not intoxicated to the point of being unable to understand the danger of choosing to drive, why is the penalty for that choice based on the outcome of the act, rather than the choice. The blameworthyness of the drunk driver who is pulled over before injurying anyone is the same as the drunk driver aprehended after the fatal crash... Both made the same blameworthy decision exposing the general public to the same danger of collision.

Posted by: Monty | Mar 23, 2009 4:24:10 PM

The issue is that these athletes think that they are powerful and invincible and take unneccessary risks and bring people down with them. There is a price and sometimes it's the victim that pays that price.

Posted by: Ajlouny | Sep 2, 2009 10:23:01 PM

I attended the Victim Impact Panel 9/22/2010 in Ft Worth, TX. where the mother of Misty Dawn Hunter spoke. I will never be the same. Nor will I ever forget Misty Dawn Hunter or her wonderful mother. Although I wasn't drinking, I was under the influence of prescription medication. I knew what I was doing was wrong and I chose to drive, because "I could handle it". I am very lucky I didn't kill anyone. I think, that if anyone has a BAC over 0.00 to 0.08, while driving, should be ticketed and lose their DL until they complete a MADD Victim Impact Panel. Also, repeat DUI's, over 0.08 need to be treated more seriously than it is now. I really don't know what the sentence should be. Anyone that takes any substance before driving is just as guilty as a person that starts shooting a gun randomly in a crowded mall.

Posted by: Marty Tarver | Oct 17, 2010 9:32:25 AM

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