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Friday, Aug. 26, 2016

Your view: Enforce laws

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Are the officers of our courts as guilty as the criminals?

We hear on the news regularly of persons being killed by drunk drivers, only to find that they are in fact repeat offenders, who have been given "another chance" by a sympathetic judge.

I would like to call your attention to the driving history of a 23-year-old, who is clearly a "persistent offender" who appeared for a fourth DWI arrest in less than five years in Scott County last week. Three of these arrests were made by Troop E Highway Patrol and one by Sikeston DPS.

According to our state law, in a "normal" progression, the first offense is a Class B misdemeanor, second offense is a Class A misdemeanor, third offense can be charged as a felony. And then, of course, there is the administrative action by DOR.

These cases have been heard locally: New Madrid County reduced the first DWI to a minor in possession. Mississippi County found them guilty of the second DWI and issued a 90-day jail sentence. Then, granted an imposition of sentence, so no jail time was served. Sikeston City Court reduced the third DWI to an Excessive BAC. Last week, a Scott County Prosecuting Attorney agreed if the offender plead guilty to a DWI, pay fines and court costs, the charge would be a prior offender, not a persistent offender.

The charge definition may have changed, but the facts remain the same. This person is a persistent offender and out court system has returned them to our highways, with a valid license to kill.

Our officers of the court should work to aid the law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line each day to protect innocent citizens by taking these persistent offenders off the roadways. But that was not the result of this case. This person is a persistent offender and should have made accountable for their blatant disregard of the law.

It is short of a miracle they don't have blood of innocent people on their hands due to their continued abuse of the law. Are the judges and prosecuting attorneys involved with ignoring their blatant disregard for the law, willing to accept responsibility should they do harm to innocent people the next time they decide to drink and drive?

It is obvious that until the courts hold these offenders accountable for their actions, they will continue to put us all at risk. The repeated offenses prove that this person is not taking these violations seriously, nor have they appreciated the leniency shown by prior judges. These offenders should not be rewarded for hiring lawyers that manipulate the system and allow persistent offenders to continue to make our highways unsafe.

I encourage you to contact your local judges and prosecutors and ask them why they will not enforce our state laws and stop rewarding the criminals. They should be made accountable and "Do time for the crime." Hopefully the next time, these persistent offenders will take drinking and driving seriously.

If our elected officials refuse to uphold the laws and do the the job they were elected to do, "Protect and serve our community," it will be our job to vote them out of office.

Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD)