Thursday, January 25, 2007

Man convicted of tenth DUI

What's wrong with this picture?

SALEM, MA: An Arlington man will spend up to five years in prison after he was convicted of his tenth drunk driving offense.

According to prosecutors, John McNeil, 43, drove through a stop sign in Haverhill on Christmas Day in 2005 and crashed into an ambulance responding to a call with its lights flashing.

The crash injured two emergency medical technicians.

McNeil had been convicted of drunken driving eight times in Massachusetts and once in New York before this incident, according to court documents.

McNeil's lawyer said his client is "a decent guy who has a severe alcohol problem." Source.

Why are felonies committed with automobiles considered more excusable than those committed with bare fists or ax handles? If this man had done a string of any other crimes he would have been in prison long term after the second or third offense, severe alcohol problem or not. He's not to be blamed for his alcoholism. He is responsible, though, for his decision to drive. The laws that allowed him back on the road again and again and again are broken. They need to be fixed, or they're meaningless.

3 comments:

tina said...

Wow!

Anonymous said...

One thing the article didn't mention was whether or not he had a valid driver's license when he was driving. I'd be willing to bet that at least for some of those DUI offenses he was driving on a suspended or revoked license (which means mandatory jail). So the notion that he's being 'allowed' to drive is likely not correct. Short of incarcerating someone, there's really no way to stop a person from illegaly operating a vehicle. Also, Mass. does have mandatory jail sentences starting with the second offense, and increasing in severity with each conviction. Treatment is required as well, starting with the first offense. I don't know the specifics of this particular case, but the idea that mass DUI laws are lenient is not accurate. In this case, however, they certainly seem to have failed.

Anonymous said...

Just a follow up to the above posting. I certainly don't mean to make light of this situation. 10 DUI convictions is unbelievable. Clearly this situation is terrible. My only point is that this is certainly not 'normal', nor allowed by Mass. law. The laws stipulate pretty severe punishments both for DUI, as well as for operating on a suspended license, including increasing jail sentences with each offense. It is true however, that even the most severe punishments often don't deter the offender who has no regard for consequences. I can only guess that at least for some of his convictions, the stautory punishments were reduced or not enforced for some reason, and that doesn't seem right. In Mass., a fifth conviction calls for a 2-5 year jail sentence and a liftetime driving ban. Driving drunk while on a DUI suspended license adds another 1 1/2 years to the already applicable jail sentence.