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St. Cloud, Minnesota

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Mike Bryant
Mike Bryant
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What Should The Penalty Be When A Person Is Killed On The Road?

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It’s a question that gets repeatedly across the state throughout the year. Usually, it comes up when the driver at fault isn’t drunk or high or even on the cell phone. Cases where the person was negligent, but didn’t seem to do anything that bad. Unfortunately, the resulting crashes are tragedies.

Some see the civil system as being the solution. That by bringing the wrongful death claim, some sense of balance can be dealt with. Still, for many loved ones that isn’t nearly enough. The issue arose again this past week in the sentencing of a truck driver who caused a collision that killed two young people in Carver County. The agreement was

  • 12 months’ probation
  • perform 80 hours of community service
  • restitution to the victims for unpaid funeral expenses
  • a $385 fine
  • a driver-improvement course
  • and write letters of apology to the victims.

The Minneapolis Tribune quoted on of the sisters of the deceased as saying:

"Unfortunately, it’s total crap, for lack of better words," Kris Smida, Babatz’s sister, said Tuesday. "It’s a slap in the face. You kill two people and this is all you get, and you can still be driving? It baffles me."

Having been involved in a number of these cases, it is clear that family members are all over the board in the retribution they call for. I also am aware that a number of motorcycle advocates have been concerned for a long time with the light or limited sentences drivers get when they kill a rider.

Hopefully, this issue will continue to be looked at. There does seem to be some category that is missing in many of these potential sentences. I have wondered if maybe a tired system like the degrees of DUI should be looked at. Clearly, there is a large number of left behind relatives who need some sense of justice.