When you make the decision to drive a car after having too many drinks, you are immediately endangering the lives of everyone who shares the road with you. Accidents caused as a result of drunk driving can often be fatal. Because of this, many states are electing to strictly punish drunk driving offenses that result in serious injury or death.
A California man was recently convicted of second-degree murder after killing five people in a drunk driving traffic accident. The state of California has the “Watson murder” rule, which dictates that if you kill someone as a result of drunk driving, you risk being charged with second-degree murder.
The “Watson murder” comes from the precedent set by the 1981 case, the People v. Watson. In this benchmark case, the defendant, who was driving under the influence of alcohol, was convicted of murder after he killed a mother and her six-year-old daughter. Ever since this case, all California residents convicted of a DUI in California must acknowledge the “Watson murder” precedent at their sentencing.
Following the trend of enhanced sentencing and expanded responsibility for drunk drivers, New York motorist James Ryan has been convicted of causing the death of police officer, Joseph Olivieri, who responded to an accident involving James Ryan. What makes this case especially unique is the fact that Ryan was not driving at the time the police officer was killed, but was standing outside his vehicle. Ryan, who was driving drunk, got into a traffic accident on the Long Island Expressway. Police officer Joseph Olivieri, who was dispatched to investigate the accident was struck and killed by a different driver. The Nassau County district attorney is arguing that James Ryan’s actions are what killed Olivieri. Apparently the jury agreed and now James Ryan awaits sentencing.
Then there is Texas resident, Ethan Couch. Also known as “affluenza teen”, Couch was arrested for killing four people and seriously injuring two others while driving under the influence. He was 16 at the time. Couch, who was recently apprehended for violating his 10-year probation sentence, has become infamous in the United States. There are a number of people who believe that his family’s money afforded him a lighter sentence.
According to the Department of Motor Vehicle Safety, approximately 31% of traffic-related deaths in 2013 are a result of drinking and driving. Drunk driving is a problem that all lawmakers want to remedy, but people feel differently about how to go about it. Some recommend lowering the BAC to 0.05, which is approximately one unit of alcohol per hour. Other ideas include more sobriety checkpoints, increasing alcohol taxes, and mandatory blood tests for drivers involved in serious accidents.
The message is clear If you have had too much to drink and need to go somewhere, make use of taxis or assign a designated driver. Drunk driving can kill and lawmakers are acting according.