It was nearly 40 years ago that Doris Aiken sat in her kitchen and read with a broken heart the story of two teenagers, siblings, a 17-year-old girl and 19-year-old young man, who were killed by a 22-year-old drunk driver. She knew the teens distantly, but as a mother herself, she couldn’t help but feel a profound ache. As a journalist who hosted a local television program, she also sensed this was a story worth telling.
But as she began delving further into this pressing social issue, she discovered the attitudes of police and local prosecutors were shockingly laissez-faire. When she sat down with the local district attorney to ask whether he would press for a severe sentence for the driver, his response astounded her.
He laughed. Then he answered that his office didn’t take away licenses or jail those who were arrested for drunk driving. He underscored that this was, after all, an accident. “He didn’t mean to do it,” the D.A. explained of the man with a blood-alcohol level of twice the legal limit and an open beer can between his knees. “He probably feels very bad about it.” The D.A. wouldn’t even return the calls of the mother of the two victims. Continue reading