Last Updated on August 20, 2015 by Morris Green
Why are DWIs issued? In short, because they are a strong warning to the driver never to get behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol. But are DWIs enough? Are the time and resources expended worth it? Do they work?
Drunk Driver Involved in Fatal Accident in North Carolina
Drunk driving deaths and accidents are a problem across the nation, but nothing speaks to us more than an incident from our local community. The Charlotte Observer and Gaston Gazette reported a story involving Daniel Herring, a 41-year-old North Carolina resident. Driving home after playing the role of Jesus at a local church in Monroe, he never made it.
According to a summary provided by Attorney.com, Herring was struck head-on by a pickup truck. The collision pushed the engine of his vehicle into the passenger compartment, and he died at the scene.
The pickup truck was driven by Kevin Ohagan, a 29-year-old. Immediately following the crash, bystanders found Ohagan and a female passenger unconscious. When he regained consciousness, witnesses said his first words were, “I didn’t do it. I have to get out of here,” before he fled the scene, striking another vehicle as a police chase ensued.
At the time of Ohagan’s arrest, this 29-year-old held six prior DWI convictions. According to reports, he served jail time for two of the six convictions. And he was again driving while under the influence when he struck and killed Daniel Herring.
North Carolina’s Drunk Driving Laws
The case brought North Carolina’s drunk driving laws under scrutiny. Critics believe the laws are too lenient. In the state of NC, it takes four offenses within ten years before drunk driving becomes a felony charge. The state mandates no minimum sentence for driving drunk, and although an offender’s driving license is revoked until re-earned through DWI services, nothing prevents them from owning or registering a vehicle.
Alcohol Education and Treatment
Are DWIs enough? The answer depends on whom you ask, but one thing is certain: a lack of alcohol education and addiction treatment are contributors to individuals like Ohagan becoming repeat offenders.
The answer to alcohol addiction is not jail time, just as the answer to substance abuse is not a prison sentence. The addiction itself must be addressed and treated if the offender is to have any hope of recovery.
A DWI charge can open the way for individuals in need of education and treatment to seek help. While all offenders will not see the importance of changing their lifestyle, attending a DWI class at the right facility can encourage a more positive outcome. Service providers need to see these classes as more than a state mandate. They must go beyond the call of duty to attempt to educate attendees and give them a judgment-free zone in which to seek help beyond the program.
While DWIs may not be enough to stop a person from becoming a multiple offender, they are a start. The question is whether our community’s focus will be on education and treatment over strict punishment. Which would you choose?
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