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Drunk drivers causing car accidents: Of crime and punishment

October 20, 2010 by Steven M. Gursten

Accident attorney discusses the aftermath of drunk driving accidents in response to a reader reflecting on repentance

I’m continuing my Wednesday blog posts from real clients and readers with a comment from Nancy, who wrote in response to our blog about a young man who was seriously injured in car accident caused by a drunk driver. In this case, the drunk driver faced no civil consequences for breaking the law and causing serious personal injury to this innocent young man.

This was due to Michigan’s auto accident law as embodied in Kreiner v. Fischer, which prevented car accident lawyers from recovering damages for people injured by negligent drivers – even drunk drivers – because of Michigan’s very high threshold law that car accident victims must meet. My blog was called Michigan’s auto accident law protects drunk drivers, not accident victims.

Nancy wrote to update me on the case and her personal reflections on what punishment is appropriate for drunk drivers who hurt people in auto accidents.

Here’s what she has to say:

“Actually, Craig (the drunk driver who caused the accident in Wayne Cottrill v. Craig Kenneth Senter) just got his full license to drive last month. He spent one year in jail. He was allowed to drive back and forth to work for a time before he received it full time. He laid in a coma for weeks. He is now a Christian and is very sorry for what he did and what could have happened. Drunk driving is absolutely not acceptable. I believe our laws are not harsh enough. Regardless of what you may believe, he is very much a family man. It’s not an excuse, but the people I have heard yell the loudest about drunk driving have themselves driven while under the influence. The license should be taken in the first offense. Why wait until an accident happens? I feel for the family of the boy that was hurt, though I believe that he may have had problems that existed before the accident, and the family tried to blame the accident. Once again, I believe the punishment should be harsh. I will not judge whether Craig spent enough time in jail or not. He has undergone multiple surgeries and will himself deal with a life time of pain. Does he deserve this? Possibly so.”

My own thoughts are similar. Each year, I help the families of loved ones seriously injured or killed by drunk drivers. My tolerance for drunk driving has dropped to zero, because it is such a preventable and needless crime. The destroyed lives caused by drunk drivers should not be quietly hidden.

People must be constantly reminded of the real consequences of drinking and driving.

Each year, our lawyers handle a number of pro-bono wrongful death cases caused by drunk drivers, usually where the drunk driver has no or little insurance, to help the victims and families of victims. I see first-hand, and am constantly reminded, how tragic drunk driving truly is, and I hope this knowledge is spread to prevent others from doing so.

Steven Gursten is recognized as one of the nation’s top personal injury lawyers handling serious car and truck accident injury cases and auto insurance No-Fault litigation. He is available for comment on Michigan’s new auto accident law, McCormick v. Carrier and the Michigan Supreme Court.

Related information:

Michigan’s new auto law: McCormick v. Carrier

A safety ap to reduce drunk driving and crashes in Michigan?

FAQs about recent car accidents in Michigan

Michigan Auto Law is the leading largest law firm exclusively handling car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases throughout the entire state for more than 50 years. We have offices in Farmington Hills, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Sterling Heights to better serve you. Call (800) 968-1001 for a free case evaluation with one of our attorneys.

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