I think we should probably start a forum to list judges that are lenient towards drunk and otherwise dangerous drivers. We can review this list when it comes time to vote to retain the judge. I searched the forum, but have not found a similar thread.
I wrote this on the Bobby Cann thread:
We also need to reexamine why DUIs happen as much as they do and how we can actively work on addressing the problem. By giving a 10-day sentence and a $25k fine, our justice system is not balanced and fair and is not doing enough to deter future DUIs. It just isn't a meaningful answer to the problem. Why is he not required to attend counseling? Lifetime loss of license? Meaningful community service? Having a driver's license is a privilege that shouldn't be taken lightly by driving while intoxicated or distracted (smart phones, drugs, etc.). The United States is the third worst country for DUI-related deaths (that does not include distracted driving). 31% of road-related deaths in the U.S. involve alcohol.
It does look like stiffer sentences may not ultimately deter a tragedy like this from happening but neither does a (very small) slap on the wrist. Or letting him off free twice - before someone was killed.
As Bobby's mother pointed out, no amount of infrastructure will protect the vulnerable users of the road - in a car, on a bike, or on foot from a person that is driving recklessly. If Ryne faced stricter consequences e.g. loss of a license, required counseling with education on the dangers of driving while impaired, a life could have been saved.
It's definitely a worthwhile discussion - what is the appropriate punishment to suit the crime and loss of life?
Unfortunately, doing nothing (just live with the guilt) or a civil suit isn't an effective way to deter future DUIs from occurring. By the time we get around to the sentence of a repeat offender like Ryne, it's already too late - the system has truly failed.
Vais does seem to have had a more meaningful sentence for a few reasons:
- Requirement to perform manual labor once a month for two years
- Undergo drug and alcohol treatment
I don't agree with the sentence Ryne San Hamel received because there's no drug and alcohol treatment, no community service, and when Ryne tried for years to get the charges dropped, does this illustrate the "remorse" that impacted the judge's choice for a very light sentence? Ryne seemed ok with going to court, seeing Bobby's aunt and mom in court for years and in all that time, didn't it strike him (or his family) this has taken a huge toll on Bobby's family? I believe there should be a mandatory loss of license in the case of DUI-related death.
In changing our culture, organizing a night out should involve making arrangements NOT to drive if you plan to have a few cocktails. We have many options open to us e.g. CTA, cabs, hotels, Lyft/Uber. So many of us have adapted this approach, it isn't a stretch to make a large-scale shift in our culture. Why drive when you don't have to?
In addition to the above, there's a need to change the fundamental way we think about driving while impaired. Other countries have changed their culture and improved their statistics. There's a lot we can learn from them and adopt similar policies, campaigns promoting this shift, and implement meaningful consequences e.g. loss of license, mandatory counseling starting with the first time offenders, testing that doesn't wait hours for a blood test - streamlined testing procedures so we get an accurate blood alcohol reading that translates to mandatory consequences - no amount of celebrity lawyering should be able to get someone out of a DUI. Also, mandatory training for all law enforcement on these policies.
Also, if a motorist is in a crash that results in death, mandatory testing even if they don't think it's a factor because that's a subjective assessment and alcoholics can seem sober when they are not. Somehow we also need to address this for distracted drivers as well e.g. smartphones because that is just as much of an issue (see the case I mentioned in Mount Prospect - a $150 fine for killing a cyclist).
...organizing a night out should involve making arrangements NOT to drive if you plan to have a few cocktails. We have many options....
Ha ha! You and Filka Bean are soooo idealistic! Of course people are going to drive after drinking, while on a smart phone, or generally distracted. And as many others have posted, drivers who kill get very light sentences....nationwide!
Case in point: My wife and I were invited to a suburban party last Saturday at a restaurant on Golf Road in Mt Prospect. We don't own a car. But another invitee who couldn't come, offered her car. I declined, much to my wife's consternation. And instead we took the Metra from Ogilvie depot on Madison out to Des Plaines, and the #208 pace bus which let us off right in front of the restaurant. Travel time was about 90 minutes. And cost about $12 in fares for both of us...peanuts, compared with the real cost of a car.
Despite the convenience, no one else at the party took transit. And afterward, another couple insisted that they give us a lift to the Blue Line...despite having had several drinks.
Sorry folks. We live in a car-centric society. A few of us might know how to use the 'many transit options' we have in NE Illinois. But the vast majority do not. "Don't know; don't want to know." They drink all the time in the suburbs...and then try to drive home. Meanwhile those PACE buses run empty all evening long. And consequently judges and juries will not properly punish those who kill with those cars. Because they know....There for the Grace of God, go I.
Maybe it's generational. Many of us have figured it out. I went to a number of dressy cocktail parties over the holiday season and every one of my friends took Lyft or Uber. People were laughing about how they ended up in the same shared ride to the party.
If you look at the Metra trains packed to the gills for Cubs games, concerts, and Bears games, many people in the suburbs "get it" too.
I own a car, I just choose not to use it - especially when alcohol is involved. I know I am not alone. Optimistically, I think we can get there and that doesn't make me "soooooo idealistic".
Many European countries have already made this shift and have much lower DUI-related deaths and crashes.
In terms of car vs. transit, I think that younger folks are more likely to take transit than older folks.
As far as drunk driving - not sure. Among people I know, those over 60 are more likely to have more drinks before driving. It doesn't appear to have the level of stigma that it does with people I know who are in their 20s. Many of the people I know who are 45 or younger show a higher degree of awareness about drunk driving. 45-60: mixed bag. These are observations among people I hang out with at times when we might have drinks, so that's not necessarily representative of everyone. Your mileage may vary...
Anne's got a good point on age-vs-transit choice. I don't drink but I sure do use transit and my bicycle to get around.
Very few people in my age group know what a "Seniors-Ride-Cheap" Ventra card is, how to get one, and why to get one. Maybe it's just because I'm parsimonious but I got mine as soon as I qualified for it - way back when it was free, not just cheap.
It is an age thing. There's a lot of things we all outgrow. Maybe the new thing to outgrow is a car.
From talking to some seniors I know, I think that many (especially petite women) feel more vulnerable to being preyed upon by criminals while waiting for or riding a train or bus. Many of the exceptions are seniors who are very physically active.
Very unfortunate but completely understandable.
Thanks for sharing your insight. I have friends from late twenties to fifties who are careful not to drive when they go out. Most are cyclists and many have an active lifestyle. I do think many cyclists are very aware of how vulnerable we are when we ride and that translates to responsible behavior and better choices (for transportation) when drinking.
Well with Illinois' new mandatory driving test for seniors, look to see a lot more seniors riding transit because they cannot pass the new tests:
.....Illinois state rules focus on identifying older drivers who may have become unsafe. Specifically, Illinois:
It will be interesting to see how that plays out. From the statistics I've seen, even 85-year-old drivers have about the same accident rate as 19-to-24 year olds, and 75-year-old drivers have a far lower rate. What I'd like to see is the driving age raised to at least 18. Sixteen to eighteen-year-olds on the road kill more people than hundred-year olds driving Indy cars ever would. There's where the real problem lies.
Also, having any kind of disability that affects mobility tends to make many people (senior or not) feel more vulnerable.
The problem with judges in Cook County is that first, they are elected. It makes no sense to elect judges. They should gain their office on the basis of merit. Presently, and in Chicago in particular, people become judges based on who they know, who their parents are, how much they've pounded the pavement for the party, anything but actual merit. Cook County judges are regarded by most attorneys I know as being less intelligent and knowledgeable about the law than an average attorney. Elections and retention ballots mean nothing. Some form of merit selection is the only way to go. This is not to say that there aren't some good judges out there -- but it happens by chance, not by the best candidates being elected. By the way, people become state's attorneys and public defenders the same way. Actual knowledge of the law or academic achievement is way down on the list of necessary qualifications.
Also, I'd increase the driving age to a minimum of 18, and preferably higher. That alone would result in a whole lot less crashes and deaths on the highways. Just look at the crash rates by age.
According to the NYTimes yesterday, traffic deaths are again zooming upward...over 40 000 killed in 2016, an increase of 14% in past two years.
The increase is largely because (1) cell phones, new apps, and distracted driving, and (2) less enforcement resulting in more speeders, careless drivers, and red-light runners.
All of which imperils us as cyclists, riding along the side of those roads. And to underscore Jim's point about teen-age drivers:
...Teens, who have the highest fatal crash rates, are also back on the road after the recession when many of them couldn't afford to drive as much. The surge in fatalities comes as cars and trucks have more safety features than ever. Nearly all new cars now have electronic stability control and rearview cameras, and sophisticated safety technology like adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency-braking and blind-spot monitoring....