OUR VIEW: Repeat DUI offenders should face stiffer penaltiesOur patience is thin for those drivers with four, six or 10 DUI offenses in their lifetime. Who is letting them back onto the streets?
By: Editorial board, The Daily Republic
Another day, another multiple-times DUI offender listed in The Daily Republic.
This time it’s William Hegstrom, a 34-year-old from Yankton whose tribulations are outlined in a short story in today’s edition. Hegstrom pleaded guilty to his sixth drunken-driving offense after he was stopped May 9 in Mitchell. He was driving with a blood-alcohol content level of 0.164, more than twice the legal limit.
Yes, it was his sixth DUI offense. But, we once again wonder, how many times has a repeat DUI offender driven drunk in his life to actually be arrested six times for the crime?
A year ago, we told you about Dennis Harris, who was stopped on Interstate 90 for driving erratically. When all was said and done, he was busted for his 12th DUI charge.
We also have published the story of William Henry Leber, who faced a local judge for his 10th DUI charge.
And over the past few years we have published many, many names of other multiple DUI offenders.
By no means do we condone or brush off even one single DUI conviction, but we do understand that mistakes may happen. A driver who sincerely thinks he is OK may get behind the wheel, even though a breathalyzer may later prove the driver’s self-analysis was off.
This doesn’t indicate a trend so much as poor judgment. These people should be punished, but not stoned in the city square.
Multiple DUI offenders are a different story, and our patience is thin for those drivers with four, six or 10 DUI offenses in their lifetime.
Who is letting them back onto the streets?
Why are they not incarcerated?
We have noted some cases in which local judges have been appropriately tough on repeat DUI offenders, including in some of the cases mentioned above.
We also remember that the state Legislature earlier this year worked to stiffen the penalties for drunken drivers with multiple offenses on their records.
Although South Dakota’s jails and prisons are filling up with DUI offenders — we have reported that 29 percent of male inmates are in for drug or DUI-related offenses — stiffer penalties must be pursued.
Books need to be thrown at these offenders.