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Bike Week felony DUI means 10 years in jail for 78-year-old woman

A 78-year-old woman from outside Florida, apparently unfamiliar with our area's annual Bike Week motorcycling festival, allegedly struck and killed a 64-year-old motorcyclist and injured two others in March 2012. She was just convicted of felony DUI and sentenced to 10 years in prison plus 5 years' probation. The judge also revoked her driver's license for the rest of her life.

She was also convicted of enhanced DUI, as her blood alcohol content was allegedly 0.277 at the time of the accident, and DUI causing serious bodily injury. The prison sentences for those offenses will run concurrently with the other felony DUI sentence, but the upshot is that this woman may be in prison for the rest of her life.

"Part of her history is too that she had a drinking problem," commented the judge. "When she was asked on the stand if she was an alcoholic her first response was, 'I guess,' even though she has voluntarily admitted herself three separate times to inpatient rehabilitation centers and then ultimately killed somebody driving with an alcohol level that's three times the limit."

The woman had no prior criminal history and has demonstrated her remorse. Even the two bikers she allegedly injured apparently said she didn't deserve prison time. The prosecution had argued for 15 years.

Her case, while of course illustrating the tragedy of fatal car accidents, also shows us the extremely serious consequences of addiction for people who live in a society where driving a motor vehicle is virtually required. If people try, as this woman did, multiple times to get treatment for addiction but can't kick it, continuing to drive can put the driver and others at serious risk.

Dealing with addiction to drugs or alcohol is very challenging, but it needs to be addressed both by the individual and by society if we hope to keep impaired drivers off the roads.

Source: Daytona Beach News-Journal, "Woman, 78, gets 10 years in Bike Week DUI death," Frank Fernandez, April 24, 2013

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