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Tough Messages for Drunk Drivers

June 29, 1986

If nothing before has made drinking drivers stop and think about the deadly consequences of what they do, two recent cases in Orange County Superior Court should give them pause.

On June 19, a jury convicted Michael W. Reding, 27, of four counts of second-degree murder in connection with the drunk-driving deaths of a 36-year-old Fullerton mother and her three children, killed when Reding lost control of his car and crashed into them. Reding, who could be sentenced to life in prison, was the first person in Orange County to be convicted of murder in a drunk-driving case.

The day before, Ronald W. Colley, 29, who killed a woman and injured two other people when he crashed into their car while it was stopped at a traffic light, was sentenced to nine years and eight months in prison for vehicular manslaughter. He had five prior misdemeanor convictions for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

After his conviction, Reding expressed fear about what will happen to him in prison. Maybe that same fear--along with growing toughness of prosecutors, judges and juries and the prospect of long years in prison--will discourage others from drinking and driving.

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