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Alternative sentencing for drunk drivers

July 27, 2012 - Andrea Johnson
A judge in Fargo gave three drunk drivers a choice earlier this month: serve five days in jail or go the funeral of a family killed by a drunk driver.

Allison Deutscher; her husband, Aaron Deutscher, and the couple's 18-month-old daughter, Brielle were killed July 6 when a pickup truck driven by Wyatt Klein, 28, of Jamestown, collided with the Deutschers' SUV. According to an Associated Press story, Klein, who also died in the wreck, was driving the wrong way in the westbound lanes of Interstate 94 when the vehicles slammed head-on about 30 miles west of Jamestown. Klein's blood alcohol level was 0.25 percent, three times the legal limit.

None of the three drunk drivers were involved in that particular accident, but Judge Steve Dawson wanted to impress upon them what can happen if they continue to drive drunk.

It seems like a good lesson to impart, especially in a state where there are more drunk drivers than most, but I'm not sure I would have wanted these three strangers at the funeral if I were a family member of the Deutschers.

The judge figured the accident had been so publicized that there would be a lot of other strangers there too. Hopefully these people were respectful of the family's grief, but at what point should a funeral service be used as a teachable moment by the court system? I also tend to think these people might have gotten off too easily. I would likely have made them serve a few days in jail AND attend the funeral, provided the family gave permission.

What kind of sentence do you think is appropriate for drunk drivers?


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