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It's a bit of a stretch to say she returned to the crash site on her own. My understanding is that she returned after she realized she had been identified and followed. Returning was an act of resignation, not remorse.

She actually went back twice, according to reports. The first time she drove by, which is when cyclists in the area took to following her.

This is clearly a marker for futures sentences. If a cyclist in a bike lane in broad daylight can be hit by a drunk, texting driver who flees the scene, and the punishment is 7 years, then that is the absolute maximum in Maryland. Most cases won't have facts so clear-cut, so we can expect most punishments to be far lighter.

Yeah, the only way a sentence gets much larger is if someone can prove intent, like in the move "The Judge." And that would be difficult indeed.

OTOH: Quinzy had two prior DUIs, including (IIRC) a collision, while Cook had one DUI. You could also see this as glass-half-full: at least we got a conviction and sentencing.

It's just reassuring that there were consequences at all. New York advocates are going through hell just trying to get any penalties attached to the most blatant and egregious traffic crimes against cyclists and pedestrians, and it's like society has turned upside down to blame the victims and exonerate the perpetrators. It makes me fear for the basics of our social contract, but we are at least a bit more progressive in this region.

I'm not the biggest fan of long prison sentences for otherwise productive members of society. I highly doubt the length of the sentence has any impact on preventing future crimes like this, so I'd be happy with a year or two, but only if you also revoked her driver's license for a LONG time (10+ years). Also, maybe make her pay for improvements to the road to better protect cyclists (curbs, in this instance). Also, maybe make her give talks about the carnage that results from drinking + driving and texting + driving.

Let's not forget that drunk and otherwise impaired drivers kill thousands of other occupants of motor vehicles every year. Few of them receive much in the way of serious consequences. Until all such killings are taken seriously, cyclists and pedestrians have little hope of seeing meaningful punishments.

I agree with @Uptowner that long sentences likely do little to deter others from drinking and driving. However, serious consequences for the first offense, regardless of whether injuries or deaths are involved, might have an effect on preventing future events.

More terrible news:
I knew John and Lynne from the Potomac Pedalers Club and also from bike advocacy. They were very nice people and very experienced cyclists.

Kolo: Australia is a country notorious for alcohol consumption. But with more vigorous DUI laws, and lower limits, they changed the culture of DUI.

The suspended part is bs, but I think the total sentence may be close to the sentencing guidelines the judges follow:

By the way, bigamy carries a max term sentence guideline higher than manslaughter by motor vehicle while under the influence.

Maryland's sentencing guidelines all sorts of wack. Good luck ever changing them though.

I should add that with eligible dimunition credits, she will likely only serve 2-3 years or so.


Good behavior is up to 10 days per month, work is up to 5 days per month, and education is up to 5 days per month.

No opinion on the length of the sentence, but I'm glad she got something fairly substantial.

Regarding deterrence, this sort of thing isn't check fraud or armed robbery. It's the action of an intoxicated drug addict whose judgment is, ipso facto, chronically and acutely impaired. Not the optimal calculator of utility, in my view.

Indeed, a suit against the diocese that ignored her drinking problem might be a better deterrent.

I would agree that sending people to prison for a long time in these kinds of cases is probably non-productive. But the larger problem is that there have been numerous cases recently of cyclists killed by repeat offenders. So, clearly not enough is being done to keep known drunk drivers off the road - and as a result people are dying.

I think the diocese is getting more anger directed at it then deserved and Maryland is getting far less than they've earned.

If we don't want to see impaired drivers killing people we can choose to no longer accept any drinking and driving.

The restaurant and entertainment industries would have an issue with that.

And then we still face the growing menace of distracted driving.

Maybe time to hang the bike up :(

Mandatory ignition interlock devices for a year for "first-time" offenders (who in all likelihood have already driven while drunk over 100 times before being caught) would be a step in the right direction.

I'm not really sure why ignition interlock isn't just mandatory in all cars to begin with similar to the new backup camera requirements, but I do think the sentence was too lenient unless they have some way of guaranteeing she does not get behind the wheel again.

The news stories indicated the first time she drove plastered, her car was pretty banged up. Yet she got behind the wheel while drunk again, during the middle of the day, in a congested area? I mean, she may have an addiction and I hope she receives treatment, but if the opportunity to be behind a wheel exists, then she is a danger to everyone out there.

The absence of deterrence is not an argument for leniency. I think the causes of public safety and justice would be best served in such cases by a lifetime loss of the privilege of driving.

Smedley, I think something along those lines makes sense. An alternative might be a long suspension of driving privilege followed by a period when a service the perp hires has to certify that they are safe to drive. The service would be criminally & civilly liable for any failures.

With so many other options for transportation, it would be a fine option. And it might create an available niche market for robot cars.

I like your last point. I used to scoff at the idea of American individualists riding around in autonomous vehicles, but so many trends seem to be converging on it that I have changed my mind.

I'm skeptical that they will work the way the boosters say they will - at least in my lifetime - but I'm rooting for them because if they do, they'll save a lot of lives.

Instead of ignition interlock, just ban them from driving for a chunk of time, or forever.

SJE: I prefer something that's somewhat self-enforcing (I assume there are ways to defeat ignition interlock systems). How many people do you think are driving around with suspended/revoked licenses? How often have you had to produce your license while driving?

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