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Think Ere You Drink

January 01, 1988

I hope the article, "Tragedy on Broadlawn Drive" (by Beverly Beyette, Dec. 18), will make people think before they drink and drive.

It is clear from the article that there are two sets of victims in this senseless death: the Shaner family, whose 4-year-old child was killed, and James Masoner who drove the car that crashed through the Shaners' house. James Masoner may spend the rest of his life regretting his decision to drink and drive and regardless of his sentencing will presumably have to live with his conscience. His life forever changed that night. The Shaner family will never forget its loss.

But the difference is choice. James Masoner made the choice to drive after it had been made clear to him by his friends that he could not control his car. The Shaners had no choice. Little Jessica sat within the safety of her home, ironically watching the "Care Bears."

Four-year-old Jessica will never grow up to learn that we must face the consequences of our actions. There is no second chance for the victims of the drunk driver, and there should be no second chance for the drunk driver. There should be a standard of sentencing from the courts that sends the message that driving under the influence is the same thing as any other second degree murder. To excuse the actions of the drunk driver because he was too intoxicated to make a rational decision is to say that no one can be held accountable for his actions.

But even if Masoner spends the next 15 years in prison neither party in the tragedy will ever be able to change what happened. As part of his sentence, he should be required to talk to DUI offenders before their next offense becomes murder by automobile. Maybe in this way he can save others from becoming victims.

NANCY FELLMETH

San Diego

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