Sometimes statistics are interesting…how many hours the average person sleeps in their lifetime, how much peanut butter the average American eats, or how many people drink and drive. Some statistics are horrifying, like the number of times some people have been arrested for driving while intoxicated before they kill someone. That statistic for Richard Strock is 18. Richard Strock has been arrested 18 times for driving drunk before he killed his ex-wife in a drunken driving crash in 2006. In 27 years, Strock has collected an astounding 18 drunken driving arrests and five hit-and-run charges.
The Denver Post recently examined 195 DUI crashes that involved a death since 2005 and found that at least 30 percent of the drunk drivers involved had multiple DUI arrests before they finally killed someone. That’s 58 deaths cased by a repeat offender.
Of these 195 drunk driving defendants, 44 were driving with suspended licenses including one who had been arrested 7 times for driving illegally before he killed someone.
Of these 195 drunk drivers, fifteen percent were under-age drinkers. There was one 16 year old, six 17 year olds and five 18 year olds.
Of these 195 drunk drivers who killed someone, more than half were sentenced to prison for four years or less.
Unbelievably, three of these repeat offenders were arrested for new drunk driving charges after they killed someone while driving drunk!
According to Adams County District Attorney Don Quick, “That’s the hardest part about these DUI offenders—especially the repeat offenders, as we describe them—they’re ticking time bombs.”
Additionally, these repeat offenders are driving without insurance which can have life long devastating effects on their victims’ lives. Dawn King is one of the prior victims of Richard Strock. She was left with thousands of dollars in medical bills and still suffers from her injuries resulting from her crash caused by Strock over fourteen years ago.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) advocates that drunk driving is preventable through increased DUI enforcement and implementation of alcohol ignition interlock technologies. In the case of these 195 drunk drivers the increased DUI enforcement did its job, it’s what came after that impacted the safety of other Colorado drivers.
If these 195 people who had prior drunk driving arrests had alcohol ignition interlock devices installed on their cars after the first offense it is possible that we might have 195 fewer drunk driving fatalities. Although the argument could be made that these drunk drivers would have found another car to drive without the ignition interlock systems.
If the court system would take harsher measures against the repeat offenders including longer prison sentences and required long term alcohol treatment, we might have 195 fewer drunk driving deaths.
The family of Richard Strock and his victim, Phyllis “Patricia” Strock sees a loving father and blames the “system” for not treating their father’s alcohol addiction problem. They claim that even after his multiple arrests, their father was never required to wear an ankle bracelet or attend any kind of long term alcohol treatment program.
The answer seems so simplistic…don’t drink and drive. We don’t care how much you drink…drink yourself silly…just don’t get behind the wheel of a car and drive! We all seem to understand this simple concept. So the complicated question is how do we get the intoxicated people out there to accept this simple solution?