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Drunk driver denied parole after board hears family's pleas

It's not just the DUI cases here in Michigan that people learn from; often times, it's stories from other states that remind us that although laws differ from state to state, sometimes the outcomes can be the same.

Such was the case for a man out of Rhode Island who, in April 2009, was sentenced to seven years in prison after accidentally killing a woman in a drunk-driving accident. Like with Michigan's legal system, the courts on the East Coast felt that a prison sentence was necessary in this situation despite the man's obvious remorse for his actions in the court room.

According to police reports, allegedly while driving without a drivers' license, his vehicle crossed the center line, colliding head-on with another car being driven by a mother of six. Both vehicles were mangled, one even flipping onto its roof. Emergency crews believe that the force of the impact killed her instantly.

Police claim that not only was the man's blood alcohol level more than two-and-a-half times the legal limit, but Vicodin and cocaine were also allegedly found in his system as well.

But after nearly four years in prison, the parole board was persuaded by the victim's family to not allow him to be released from his seven year sentence. It was a decision that brought the man to tears; but it was emotion the surviving family members did not get a chance to see before they urged the board to deny the man parole for causing the death of the woman.

There are people here in Michigan who may have found themselves in similar situations; and although parole hearing guidelines may be different here, many can understand the heartbreak this Rhode Island man must have felt when he was told that his intoxication would prevent him from leaving prison until 2017.

Source:, "Parole denied for drunken driver who killed woman," Parker Gavigan, Jan. 16, 2013

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