When people make the mistake of driving while intoxicated, they typically don't put much thought into the potential consequences. Usually at the forefront of the driver's mind is the desire to get home in their own vehicle. It's only after the driver is pulled over by police or involved in an accident that regret begins to set in.
This usually isn't because the driver is an evil person. Unfortunately, alcohol and drugs lead people to make careless decisions, rather than cold, calculating ones to kill or injure someone else. If you've ever read stories about drunk drivers having to face their victims or their families in court, you know that oftentimes the drivers become very emotional and remorseful, having realized how much pain their actions caused.
The case of an Everett, Massachusetts, woman sentenced this month for a fatal drunk driving crash in Connecticut is a good example. The 28-year-old woman was convicted and sentenced to six years in prison for the accident, which killed a 45-year-old woman and seriously injured another driver. At her sentencing last week, the defendant apologized to the woman's daughters and others in the courtroom for the pain and suffering she'd caused. Her mother also addressed the victim's family, explaining that her daughter had gone down a "path of destruction" that ended with the fatal accident.
The judge presiding over the sentencing hearing noted that the defendant was not unlike others who had been convicted and sentenced after a fatal accident they didn't mean to cause. Often it becomes difficult to come to terms with the loss, to the point that a defendant may not be able to express their feelings of regret.
Defendants who do show remorse and a willingness to change their behavior, either through statements or emotions, are sometimes given a sentence that can help heal the pain of victims and their survivors. In this case, the woman was ordered to participate in a victim impact panel for Mothers Against Drunk Driving following her release from prison. She may also be forced to reimburse the injured victim and the fatal victim's family for any expenses incurred in the accident. These measures could go a long way toward helping everyone involved – including the defendant – move forward in a positive way.
Source: The Day, "Drunken driver apologizes at manslaughter sentencing," Karen Florin, Aug. 22, 2013