Tuesday, March 8, 2011

How Does a Convicted DUI Killer Keep Getting Back Behind the Wheel?

Posted By on Tue, Mar 8, 2011 at 9:14 AM

In the CP, James Nix has an infuriating article about Danny Lee Ross Jr., who notched up what is technically his fifth DUI arrest last October — even though he killed three people in a drunken wreck in 1993. Yet thanks to sentencing guidelines, which don't consider offenses separated by 10 years as consecutive, the judge hearing his latest case couldn't factor in that crime. Lucky for Ross, his roughly 12 years in prison put enough distance between his latest arrests that they couldn't be connected.

This echoes an issue raised earlier this year by Brantley Hargrove in his article on Metro's 287(g) program. Hargrove traced the program's roots in Davidson County back to 2006, when "an undocumented Nashville man, Gustavo Garcia Reyes, killed a couple from Mt. Juliet, Donna and Sean Wilson, while driving drunk. He'd been popped repeatedly for drunken driving." It was public outrage over Reyes' crime, Hargrove wrote, that gave Sheriff Daron Hall his mandate to enlist in 287(g).

Yet Hargrove asked whether it was really the state's DUI laws that needed strengthening, not its immigration laws. "Even before the program, Davidson County's sheriff's deputies would have known Reyes had a lengthy string of priors upon booking," he writes. "If the bond had been set high enough, or if the criminal penalties for repeat offenders were strict enough, it's unlikely an alcoholic of limited means would have been careening through the streets again."

Obviously, after reading Nix's article, it's a point that can't be made often enough.

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