Drunk driving is a problem which plagues the entirety of the United States. In 2015, over 10,o00 people were killed in drunk driving accidents, making up one-third of all deaths on the road. Despite these shocking numbers, many people find that the punishment for driving drunk is too lenient. Although most drivers involved in fatal drunk driving accidents face jail time, many do not serve their entire sentence. The Des Moines Register assessed this problem in an April 2017 article about the inappropriate punishment for Iowa’s drunk drivers.
Many families across Iowa are frustrated with the legal system, as they believe that they do not treat drunk driving as a serious issue. They indicate that this is made clear through situations as Miranda Lalla’s who, after killing a woman in a drunk driving accident was sentenced to 25 years in prison, only served two years of this sentence. According to the Iowa Department of Corrections, this is a common occurrence, as, over the past six years, 47 inmates convicted of vehicular homicide served only one-fourth of their maximum sentence. Vehicular homicide is considered a class B felony and, for any other felony of this type, inmates are not released until up to 15 years into their sentence. However, on average, inmates convicted of vehicular homicide serve only six years of their full sentence. Iowa citizens fear that this indicates a serious lack of concern about drunk driving, as the legal system is demonstrating to the community as a whole that the consequences for drunk driving are not nearly as severe as many other crimes. The Iowa Peace Officers Association has spent the last several years attempting to make drunk driving laws stricter and keep those accused of driving drunk, off the roads. Unfortunately, these changes have not been put into effect.
The struggle that Iowa is facing regarding drunk driving laws is unfortunately not uncommon. Across the United States, first-time and repeat drunk driving offenders rarely serve more than a quarter of their full sentence. This lax treatment of drunk driving gives many people an excuse to continue participating in this extremely dangerous behaviors. Although as a nation we are becoming more aware of the dangers of drunk driving, this knowledge it not enough to prevent some individuals from continuing to put themselves and others at serious risk. Stricter punishments, such as increased jail time, extensive fines, and license revocation, must be used to discourage those engaging in this reckless behavior.
Although the punishments for drunk driving may be too lenient, victims can still take action to protect their rights after an accident. Many individuals who have suffered from a drunk driving accident choose to pursue a lawsuit against the driver, in order to receive compensation for their losses. With the help of an Iowa personal injury attorney, these individuals can get the money they need to pay medical bills, rehabilitation costs, and lost wages. This compensation can help diminish one of the many burdens caused by a devastating drunk driving accident.