Recently, a Tarrant County, Texas, jury sentenced a 31 year-old woman to 16 years in prison for being drunk when she caused a collision January 11, 2009, that killed a 20 year-old young man, riding in a small car that was broadsided as she ran a red light, driving at a speed of 70 m.p.h.  In addition, she was sentenced to 10 years in prison for intoxication assault because the driver of the car was permanently maimed.  The driver, who was 21 at the time of the accident, spent 85 days in a Fort Worth hospital and now uses a wheelchair.  He has difficulty speaking; his life has been altered because of the recklessness of someone who had spent the evening drinking at two nightclubs and had a blood alcohol content that was more than twice the legal limit.

The driver of the SUV had no criminal history, but the jury handed down the stiff sentence.  After passing sentence, the District Judge ruled she could serve her two prison terms concurrently.  She must serve at least eight years before she will be eligible for parole.  The prosecutor noted that “if it makes someone think twice about drinking and driving”, that’s fabulous.  (Just seeing the video of this horrible wreck, filmed by the red-light camera, was enough to make you get into the habit of slowing down when you come to an intersection.  It was like watching a race car speed down the street, hitting the victims’ car so hard it just disappeared.)

After the verdict, several family members addressed the woman in the courtroom.  The young man who drove the small car had prepared a montage of pictures shown on a video screen.  It showed him as a young boy, then a strapping young man who joked with friends and family, swam, and played sports.  “Then I met you,” the text on the video said.  Next, were photographs of his mangled car, and breathing tubes he used as he fought for life in an intensive care unit.  The final text said “Don’t forget me,” “because I sure won’t forget you.”

If you go out with friends and have a few drinks, use your head and give the keys to someone else.  We have to be responsible for each other.  Take the keys away when you see someone taking a chance getting behind the wheel!  It may make them angry, but you may keep them from endangering their life, and hurting or killing others.  Lives can be forever changed for the victims of a driver under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The woman who was speeding through a busy intersection will have to live with the guilt associated with her careless act.  Sometimes even nice people make mistakes, and that one will stay with her forever.

Fort Worth Star-Telegram


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