Four years ago on Christmas Eve, a 50-year-old bank branch manager, husband and father of two, spent the evening wrapping and delivering gifts before heading to a co-worker’s holiday party. There, he drank some alcohol. And then a little more. And then he got behind the wheel of his car to head home. However, before he could make it to his destination, he slammed into another vehicle while traveling the wrong direction on Parks Boulevard in Largo. All three occupants of that vehicle – a couple married 63 years and their 58-year-old daughter – a wife and mother herself – were killed.
Last year, just before Christmas Eve, that former bank manager with no prior criminal record was sentenced to 23 years in prison for DUI manslaughter after negotiating a plea deal. He faced up to 45 years if convicted by a jury.
Although it can be difficult to feel much sympathy for those who choose to get behind the wheel of a vehicle drunk, there is no denying that situations like this are tragic all around. We highlight this case, as reported by the Tampa Bay Times, because they underscore the fact that drunk drivers aren’t necessarily “bad” people; rather, they are individuals who made a very poor choice, often misjudging their ability to safely operate a vehicle. It’s especially important to talk about drunk driving at this time of year because there are so many holiday parties, vacations and gatherings happening – and many of those will involve alcohol. Responsibly making prior arrangements for transportation is key. Continue reading →