Health

13th DUI and Only 6 Months in Jail

Another case of poor judgment on the road and in the courts

Kyle Peter Cain just notched his 13th drunk driving arrest since 1987. In and out of jail for DUI since 1987, Cain is now facing just six months more behind bars and a $500,000 fine if he is found guilty in his latest offense.

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Cain was driving a motorcycle last weekend along Interstate 70 when a Colorado State Patrol officer pulled him over. He was incoherent, according to the state trooper. He was driving without a license, which was revoked three years ago because of numerous traffic offenses.

While this is far from the first time Cain has been stopped, he will be one of the first Coloradans facing charges under the new felony drunk-driving law. Cain’s fate is in the hands of prosecutors, who have until Friday to decide whether to proceed with felony charges.

The news has sparked debate over mandatory sentencing for DUI. Driver-education manuals remind us that driving isn’t a right; it’s a privilege. Cain lost his driving privileges, but that didn’t stop him from driving his motorcycle while impaired by alcohol.

“I think DUIs are serious. People die,” Cain told a reporter for Denver’s NBC-TV outlet. “I don’t think making it a felony is going to change anything. When you’re drunk, you know, your judgment is gone.”

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Related: The Trouble with Coed Drinking

Yet poor judgment by alcoholics on the road spells death and destruction on a tragic scale.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10,076 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes in 2013. The average drunk driver has driven drunk 80 times before his or her first arrest, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

More sobering statistics:

  • The most frequently committed crime in the U.S. is drunk driving.
  • Nearly 1 in 3 Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash in their lifetime.
  • The greatest single cause of death for young people ages 6 to 27 is car crashes, half of which involve alcohol.
  • Your chance of being involved in a drunk-driving crash increases dramatically with every two beers you drink. Have a six-pack — and your chances of being in a drunk-driving crash are 44 percent.

Cain claims nothing can keep alcoholics from driving drunk. Yet an alcoholic who realizes, in the dim recesses of his or her thinking, that one more episode of drunk driving can result in life imprisonment is, perhaps, less likely to drive drunk.

If a person crosses a line with his drinking — and ends up crossing a line on the highway — does that individual really have the right to remain free?

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