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7-time DUI offender leads to more enhanced penalty talks

Just up the road in Massachusetts, a man was recently arrested for drunk driving for the seventh time in his life. The startling number of violations certainly piqued the interests of many people, and it was even more startling to discover that the man has not had a valid driver's license for 30 years. This whole time he has been driving illegally in numerous ways.

First and foremost, don't follow this man's example. Driving without a license is a terrible decision. In the context of a DUI charge and a history of alcohol and driving, it looks even worse. This person should have observed safe driving protocols like millions of people do everyday. If you have had alcohol, or if you know you will be drinking alcohol, make sure you have a safe ride home.

Having said that, some people are using this man's case to push for increased DUI penalties for those who choose to drink and drive. While that reaction is understandable from an "outrage" standpoint, logically it may not be as helpful as it seems. Enhanced penalties can lead to a DUI offender entering a downward spiral of legal punishment, jail time, drinking, and then repeating his or her offense.

Enhanced drunk driving penalties don't guarantee an end to DUI recidivism, just as reduced drunk driving penalties don't guarantee safer roads. Sometimes, it is the nuanced approach that works best. Finding an effective means to help a person with drinking problems and a history of drunk driving may be better than just throwing the book at him.

Source: Boston Globe, "Repeat drunk driver has not had valid license for 30 years," John R. Ellement, April 28, 2015

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