Jan, if change is needed, what should citizens do?
I agree with you expecting our judges to hold offenders accountable to the full extent of the law. As you are saying, they frequently do not do that. We do know that ignition interlocks work in saving lives. So citizens should contact their legislator to expect them to pass laws requiring interlocks for all offenders.
MADD Indiana will be introducing this legislation in the next session. If you would like to help, please contact their office. They would appreciate yor help.
No no - neither is MADD. I agree - only those convicted of drunk driving.
Thanks to those of you who have expressed your thoughts.
Another question I've received from readers relates to how prosecutors determine who will plead to what charge.
Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter told me that his office will agree to reduce the charge from operating while intoxicated to public intoxication if the person's blood alcohol level was 0.08 or 0.09 and it was a first offense and no one was injured or killed.
Indiana's legal limit is 0.08.
Prosecutors will plead down to reckless driving if it is the person's first offense and his or her blood alcohol level was 0.13 or lower, and no one was injured or killed.
Just as it is the responsibility of the judges to appropriately sentence offenders to crime, it is the job of the prosecutors to charge and seek a conviction of drunk driving if it is at .08 BAC and above!
What happens then, is that an offender does not have a drunk driving conviction, and so if they repeat, they are still just first offenders!
Agreed. It is frustrating to us as citizens who expect our officials to protect us by arresting, prosecuting and sentencing offenders appropriately.
Bob and watchingout -- Prosecutor Bernard Carter told me "We had to come up with a policy that the people of Lake County can live with and that the judges can live with, that we can move these cases but yet get justice."
tjr -- You're absolutely right. There are people who only get one drunken driving charge.
Are there any other questions or comments on the investigation?
I am very impressed with your investigation. I hope it proves to make changes in the system where needed.
Watchingout -- Lake County prosecutors say the added conditions they impose make defendants' punishments far from a slap on the wrist.
I hope you all will watch for legislation to require ignition interlocks and provide your words of support to your legislators. A reduced sentence that does not reveal their drunk driving guilt is a slap on the wrist.
They told me there is "no way humanly possible" that prosecutors can try all of the drunken driving cases that come through Lake County's court system.
Carter said Lake County prosecutors manage a huge court docket that includes more than 2,500 serious, violent offenders. Prosecutors in smaller counties may handle 200 felonies a year, half of which are drunken driving offenses, he added.
"They can take a stronger position on OWIs because they don't have anything to fill those court calls," Carter said. "Defense attorneys know that, hey, prosecutors will go to trial on that because what else are they doing?"
...does NOT reveal....whoops
The people are already going through the system. So because we do know the detention centers cannot handle all the cases, then make sure they don't have the option to drive drunk again - with ignition interlocks.
Thanks to all of you for taking the time to participate and ask questions. If you have other comments or questions, you can reach me at (219) 662-5333 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
The very same arguments you hear in Lake County, Marisa, are echoed throughout the country. So then,
let's do what is proven to reduce drunk driving.
Thank you for your great work.