Saturday, December 17, 2005

Publish Day - Ink Blog - yet another drunk driver

The leadup to the Christmas/New Year/[insert policitically correct holiday reference here] season seems to raise the profile of impaired driving-related stories. I sense that we see more of them, and the ones that we do see are more likely to be printed closer to the front page or run toward the top of the newscast.

This one's no different. The story of Charly Hart's latest conviction was a doozie. This guy's been drinking and driving for longer than many of us have been alive. And despite dozens of convictions and at least one death, he continues to get behind the wheel. Amazing - and frightening.

His latest sentence - six years in prison - is believed to be Canada's stiffest penalty to-date for a drinking and driving offence that did not result in injury or death. Either way, my gut tells me to watch myself in six years (or actually, less than three the way things work in this country, but I'm digressing) because people like this don't seem to ever learn.

Sadly, the law-abiding citizens among us are the ones most likely to pay the price for these idiots' inability to take responsibility for their own behavior. No one ever said life had to be fair, after all.

Your turn - a 2-parter:
  • How can society ensure repeat-offenders like this one are never allowed to threaten others again? What's the answer?
  • Do you have your own experience with impaired driving (either side of the coin)? How has this issue touched your life or the lives of those you know?
Drunk drivers threaten us all
Published Saturday, December 17, 2005
The London Free Press

Advocates against drinking and driving got some good news this week when Watford’s Charly Hart was sentenced to a six-year jail term for impaired driving.

The bad news is Hart’s been drinking and driving for 35 years, he’s already been convicted in connection with one fatal accident, and he’s been convicted nearly 60 times, including 39 verdicts for drunk driving and related offences.

Call me naive, but a justice system that allows this degree of blatant, serial lawlessness to continue doesn't make me feel remotely safe.

How many other Charly Harts are out there? How many times will they be turned loose to threaten the lives of the rest of us who have already gotten the message about drinking and driving? How obscene must the list of offences become before society hits its breaking point and decides to fundamentally change the way these people are dealt with?

It’s something I wonder about every time I buckle my kids into the car. It’s something I wish Mr. Hart would think about as he finally receives the punishment he so richly deserves.

-30-

42 comments:

kenju said...

Every time I read about a drunk who has killed or injured someone, my firwst thought is to lock them up and throw away the key. This is especially true if it is a second or third offense. I do think tht stiffer penalties should be given so as to keep them off the streets as long as possible.

No, I have never driven while drunk (hardly ever drunk, though). I would llike to think that I would be responsible enough to call a taxi or a friend if I had been drinking.

Michele sent me today, Carmi (I have a new post too).

kenju said...

Back again; Carmi, I'll bet you are a barrel of fun! I never thought about calling the show more than once - but I suspect my friends would have know it was me every time!

panthergirl said...

ARGH!!!! I hate drunk drivers! They are rampant here.. :(

Here via michele!

Zephra said...

Drunk driving is one of those issues that just piss me off. There is no excuse. I tell my kids that most people that drink and drive think they are not drunk...but drinking impairs out thinking. I don't drink and drive. Actually, I rarely ever drink. If you drink and drive, you should never have access to a Car again.

Plumkrazzee said...

One night my dad went out with some buddies. After 'having a few' the buddies were too drunk to drive, and so my dad piled them in his truck and started to head them home. 1/2 way there he got pulled over for no blinker, and when the officer approached, i'm sure the cab of that truck smelled like a brewery. He gave my dad the field test (passed)and then the breathalizer. (Failed) My dad, not believing he was drunk, took another breathalizer at the station, and passed that one...20 minutes later. Having failed the first, they dismissed the second as evidence, and he went to court. The judge residing over his case had a daughter killed in a drunk driving accident. My dad paid dearly. And he should have. I refused to bail him out of jail, he spent a couple of days looking for someone to do that before he found somebody sympathetic to his cause. I have no doubt he would still be cruising around with a can of Bud if that judge had not been so stiff on him the first time....You can't pussy foot around stuff like this, and there is definetely NOT enough being done. Statistics prove that first time offenders will more than likely become 2nd, 3rd, and 4th time offenders. A man here just killed someone in a drunk driving accident, it was his 7th offense. Now, tell me, who is really responsible for that?

ribbiticus said...

i say, take away his license already! the guy has done too much damage. and his many convictions only show that he hasn't learned his lesson one bit.

i am often the designated driver when out with friends (mainly because i can't really hold my liquor). still, i fear that some drunken idiot might cross my path even when i'm driving defensively. then all my precaution would have gone for naught...

Prego said...

I clench my teeth everytime I go through an intersection late at night around here. Party neighborhood.

Driving under 'questionable' conditions was de rigueur back in "the day," I'm embarrassed to admit. Fortunately, most people outgrow that tendency after college. This a***ole's a chronic! Nobody needs that much booze.

Courtney said...

You would think the laws have become restrictive enough in our respective countries so that this kind of thing would never happen, but sadly, people continue to endanger others and drive drunk.

margalit said...

One of my best friends was killed by a drunk driver. She was riding her bike right before twilight on a main street, and he swerved into her, ran over her, and drove off. There were tons of witnesses and it turns out that this driver was a 3 time loser.

My opinion is that the first offense should be harshly punished with jail time as a deterrant. Any more offenses, and they should be set off to some island in the pacific with crocodiles and poisonous snakes and no liquor at all. Period.

I don't drink other than Shabbat wine, and I am praying my kids don't either. We sure have discussed the consequences enough times and they know what my friend's loss means to me.

Right now, we're going through a very weird spate of people driving into buildings. Now what's that about?

Michele...

The Mistress of the Dark said...

The problem with drunk drivers is you can put them in jail you can force them into AA you can take away their license and chances are, they'll still manage to do something like that again.

Here via Michele's today

CanEragon said...

As a recovering alcoholic myself, this issue is very touchy, because this guy has drank and driven for so many years, it is just a matter of When he may kill someone. Hence the question, what to do? (Take away his driving privelege?) or get him into detox? only a person who needs to get sober will. ( Needs versus wants ).

It is difficult to pin down and properly guide/punish drunk drivers. It is difficult to impress upon someone who is deep in the throws of alcohol addiction that they are a danger not only to themselves but to others. The men in my family were all like this guy, I at least, broke the cycle.

If he goes to prison, he can access meetings and maybe get sober inside the walls, I am on prison teams here in Montreal, AA is available to the inmate who needs it.

This is an area that I disagree with Canada's sentancing guidelines across the board. I would start by taking away his driving ability, then get him help even if he doesn't want it, mandatory detox, and community service along with meetings.

Sometimes in such cases one has to be the conscience of the offender, because really, does he care about or think about his affect on his community, NO, it's all about the drink and getting the next buzz... Hence the need to dry him out and clean him up for his own good and the good of his family and the safety of his community.

Alcoholism is a patient and sly disease, been here, done this.

Removing him from society for prison might serve him well, IF and only IF he takes to a program of recovery, and that may take some time, a hard core drinker like this is hard pressed to get sober on his own, if he's been drinking and driving for so long. He allowed himself to get this deep in the hole, now it will be his desire to get out of it that may save him.

We need harder sentances on drunk driving related crimes, in my opinion. That goes for Quebec as well, because I know the stats here and i've visited prisons here as well.

There in lies the job of people (in the rooms) to find this guy and reach out to him - but as in all recovery programs, he has to come forward and admit he has a problem with alcohol and that his life has become unmanageable.

Most die hard drinkers die by the bottle, most never see the light of recovery before it is too late, they either kill someone or die themselves.

Prison won't cure alcoholism, recovery will !!

Plain Jane said...

I'm not really sure what the answer is. Making them go to AA doesn't seem like the answer - the whole religious theme of giving yourself over to a higher power doesn't quite work for everyone [especially non-believers]. Taking away their license doesn't work because I know I've driven on a suspended one - you just do it and hope not to get caught. Is jail the answer? More of our tax dollars at work for a person's idiocy. There doesn't seem to be just one answer that fits every scenario.

Maybe they could design a leg cuff that allowed one to travel by car, but prevented them from engaging in the act of driving - wouldn't that be nifty?

Admittedly I've driven while utterely intoxicated and I was fortunate that none, including myself, were harmed. I decided after recovering from that 'bout of stupidity to never do it again. Ever.

Here on my own volition. :D

Dave said...

Not much to add on DD's, lock em up I say.
Here from Michele's, but often pop by of my own accord.

Karen said...

This issue is just so sad! We know a family that lost a 5 year old to a drunk driver. Like your story, that guy had multiple prior offenses. Really sad.

Michele sent me...

Kross-Eyed Kitty said...

I don't think that there is really an answer to preventing repeat offenders from D&Ding again. Take away their liscense and they will just D&D without one.
As a Critical Care nurse, I have seen more than my fair share of people injured either by being hit by drunk drivers or being drunk drivers.
I think Ride Programmes cut down of D&D and should perhaps be visible throughout the year, not just during the holidays.
Here via Michele's today

colleen said...

They should have taken his drivers license away years ago.

Lish said...

Hi, Michele sent me. I will admit that I have driven at times when I shouldn't have and been lucky to have not hurt anyone. Thanks for your thoughtful post. I will remeber this when I go to a holiday party tonight and pass the keys to someone sober.

Valerie said...

i don't think there is a fool proof way to stop drunk drivers from doing it again unless you lock them away forever. We know that isn't possible though so
I have no answers. Michele sent me.

rashbre said...

Frightening. ~ It has to be governed by law and social pressure too; Drink or Drive. Never both.

Here today via Michele.

margalit said...

Still think the guy ought to be in jail for life or extradited to botswana.

Michele sent me.

Michael Manning said...

Carmi: As always, another excellent post. May I share this? It was a Monday morning in Homeroom at my Junior High School. An ominous announcement came over the intercom from the school principal. "Would you please stand at this time". After a moment, he read the names of 5 beautiful girls in our High School. They were returning home from a party and had just stopped at a Stop sign. An intoxicated teenager had floored his accellerator and went airborne 60 feet and landed on their convertible decapitating 5 of the 6 girls. The judge granted probation and stated that no sentence could e worse than the guilt this man will carry the rest of his days having killed 5 girls and seriously injured the driver. Thanks for indulging me, my friend. Peace.

honestyrain said...

i have no idea what can be done to thwart repeat offenders. you can take away their right to drive but as if that will stop them. i honestly don't know. take away something they really value, if such a thing exists to them. have them in a list of people not allowed to buy alcohol and we all have to show id but as if that would stop them. i just don't know.

i've never driven drunk and never would.

starbender said...

AMEN!
:)

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Tsae away their license forever! Too many deaths caused by irresposaible people....JUST DON'T ALLOW THEM TO DRIVE, and if they do...SLAP THEM IN JAIL FOR 25 years!

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Forgot to say Michele sent me, today Carmi...

Juggling Mother said...

I had a cousin, Aggie an uncle, both killed by drunk drivers on Xmas eve/day (many years ago). I don't think I know anyone that hasn't been affected by this issue.

I never touch a drop if driving (although UK law says I can have a couple & still be legal), and I would make it an automatic life ban if I had my way. There is no excuse, if you HAVE to drive, don't drink. If you are going to drink, don't take the car!

Although apparently the latest figures out show that more people drink & drive Jan-Nov, than over Xmas when the big campaigns & police operations are in place.

Michele sent me today, but I would have come anyway:-)

Joe said...

I never understood why people feel the need to drive when they are drunk. Sad.

Michele sent me today.

kenju said...

Here I am again, Carmi, coutesy of Michele. You skipped me (accidentally, of course) and I had to right that wrong!

craziequeen said...

Take away their licence and make sure they are blacklisted at the DMV.....then chop their hands off.

Personal experience? My dad has always drunk and as a child I was often in the car when he wasn't 100% capable. Makes my blood run cold now. Luckily the only serious drink/driving accident he had involved just a tree, and he was the only one hurt.

cq
Here from Michele's this time....

margalit said...

Buckle up, Carmi.

Michele sent me again.

David said...

Hi Carmi,

Thanks for stopping by my blog, though how you found it is beyond me.

To your topic:

* How can society ensure repeat-offenders like this one are never allowed to threaten others again? What's the answer?

Hold on to your shorts, as this is a response from the far left of the dial.

Strip all drunk drivers of their licenses. Permanently. I will argue down to ten-to-fifteen years if push comes to shove. Make driving a privilege. Make drunk-driving a major crime. And here is where I am sure people will get mad - I say that random checks should be eliminated.

*Do you have your own experience with impaired driving (either side of the coin)?

Who doesn't?

I say that we should put drunk driving on par with other major crimes. Treat it like any other violent crime...but what is the acceptable blood acohol level? I don't know, but I think it should be around 1 beer/hour/person (person weighing approx. 80 kg).

Any thoughts?

thelastnoel said...

In order for the a difference to be made is for the victims of the drunk drivers to sue the government for not doing their part to ensure public safety.

Uh, I'm from the States. Getting people by the legal cajones seems to be proper etiquette here.

aka_monty said...

I rarely drink enough to be drunk, but unfortunately I DO remember a couple of times in my youth where I seriously pushed the limit.
Thank God nothing bad ever happened.

It amazes me every time I hear about someone who has been stopped and/or arrested for DUI several times...and they keep doing it.
My ex-husband was stopped I don't know HOW many times driving drunk and was NEVER arrested. Makes me sick to think about it.
I'd have let him rot in jail.

(Oh, and Michele sent me today! But I lurk here often) :)

Sue Richards said...

My opinion....

Once someone is drunk, they are no longer responsible. The non-drunk are. And yes, it is our business no matter who the drunk is.

Calendar Girl

margalit said...

Shavua Tov!

Bhakti said...

Hi! Michele sent me...it's good to be back!

I think it's just appalling that this man has over 60 drunk driving offenses and yet was STILL able to get a license! That's absurd. I don't know what the limit should be, however I think it's somewhere way lower than 60 offenses.

This guy should NEVER be able to drive again. Although some would say that after he serves his time that he has, well--served his tiem. Bullocks. In my mind, he lost his driving priviledges years ago!

rob said...

Frightening.

Last year, I was arrested for a DUI. Cuffed. Booked. Blah. Probably one of the most humiliating experinces of my life.

Being as that I was only 1/1000th of a percent over the legal limit and I was a first time offender, I was able to get the charges dropped. However, to this day, I will not even look at the driver's seat of a vehicle if I've been drinking at all. Even if I feel OK to drive.

Just not worth it.

Kat said...

It literally makes me ill that these people are allowed to get behind the wheel again and again, putting innocent people's lives at risk.

Tammy said...

I just don't know what the answer is on this one. When I was MUCH younger, I drove home a few times when I had no business doing so. I've grown up, tho, and couldn't even imagine doing such a thing. On the other hand, someone I was involved with years ago would frequently do so...and never gave it a moments thought. In fact, I'm sure that, unless he's managed to get locked up (unlikely), he's probably still doing so. Some people just never learn.

Visiting via Michele this time.

margalit said...

So, where's the new photo?

Michele...

Dak-Ind said...

my husband's grandfather died from complications, an infection, in the remains of a leg he lost by being hit by a drunk driver. he was in a wheel chair for a few years before finally succumbing to some infection of the blood at the stump where his leg used to be. just because some guy had too many to drink one night a GOOD man lost his life, and his fmaily was devasted.

drunk driving is BAD, and although as a young un (too young to legally drink) i did drink and drive, as an adult it is not something i have done. we always have a DD, or we drink at home, or if we go to someone;s home, we limit our alcohol consumtion, or have a DD, or stay overnight.

kontan said...

drinking and driving should carry harsh penalties the first time and get harsher with each arrest.

never been flat out drunk and wouldn't drive if i was.