Back during the legislative session proponents of tougher DUI laws went to lengthy theatrics to get their point across.
The twisted wreckage of a high-profile DUI crash was installed on the capitol steps. Tombstones were put outside the legislative chambers. The family of DUI victims were put on display as absolute moral authorities on the subject. All this was intended to manipulate the emotions of legislators and produce tougher DUI laws.
But now comes news that one of the parents of the DUI victims has been caught for alcohol-related driving offenses herself, calling into question whether she was really committed to the cause of tougher DUI policy or was just a stage prop for the neo-prohibitionists who aren’t so much in favor of halting DUI’s as they are in attacking the use of alcohol itself.
A woman who lost two sons to a DUI crash is arrested for what authorities suspect is an alcohol related accident over the weekend.
Sandy Hernandez was pulled over around 2pm Saturday afternoon in Bottineau County.
Captain Gary Orlock with the highway patrol says a trooper suspected Hernandez had been drinking.
She faces three charges including actual physical control of a motor vehicle. That’s a class B misdemeanor
She is also charged with leaving the scene of an accident with a fixed object and failure to give immediate notice of a reportable accident.
“Something needs to be done to avoid tragedies like these,” Hernandez said during testimony in favor of DUI legislation in Bismarck.
She’s right. Something does need to be done. People like Hernandez need to choose to stop driving drunk.
This isn’t an issue that can be solved with public policy. It requires social change, and recognition that it’s a problem we’ll never solve entirely. But the political interests who use people like Hernandez as props – the people who paid to bring the tombstones and the car wreckage to the capitol – will never cease pushing for more enforcement, and more draconian punishments, even well beyond the point at which its clears such things aren’t helping.
Update: Some are wondering if there was some political pressure involved with Hernandez avoiding an actual DUI charge. That seems unlikely for a couple of reasons.
First, she was also charged with leaving the scene of the accident, so it seems likely the cops found her after the fact instead of the traditional traffic-stop-and-breathalyzer.
Second, what purpose what political pressure serve at this point? Whether she gets a DUI, or some lesser charge, the cat is out of the bag about the alcohol-related charge.
Third, what purpose would it serve? Support for stiffer drunk driving laws is pretty strong, and this unfortunate incident (as illustrative as it may be for drunk driving politics) isn’t likely to change much.