After a drunk driver causes a fatal accident, Tennessee's criminal justice system has an important role to play in restoring the public's sense of justice and accountability. The person responsible may face serious criminal charges and, if convicted, harsh penalties including jail time and fines. Nonetheless, the families of these victims often feel that the criminal justice system has not met their needs.
A man who had been sentenced to 22 years in prison in connection with a fatal drunk driving accident in Tennessee was recently scheduled for his first parole hearing after serving only about three years and nine months behind bars. Tennessee law provides that he must serve at least 30 percent of his sentence in prison, but that may include time he served during his trial. The man's participation in prison programs and good behavior have reportedly helped him to become eligible for parole.
The fiancée of the man he killed in a 2009 accident is not happy about the possibility of the man's release. She told reporters that she fears that the man, who had two prior convictions before the 2009 accident, will hurt someone again in a drunk driving accident. She has written the Tennessee Department of Correction in an effort to make sure that he is not released.
The fatal accident occurred as the victim was pulling into the driveway at the couple's home, when the drunk driver plowed into his vehicle at 88 miles-per-hour. It was just three months before the couple was to wed.
Criminal penalties are not the only ways to ensure justice is served after a drunk driving accident. Those who are hit by a drunk driver, or the families of those killed by a drunk driver, may seek compensation for damages through a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.
These lawsuits can be emotionally difficult and often technically complicated, but they can be crucial to helping victims and their families cope with the aftermath of a terrible accident. They can also be very important in holding drunk drivers accountable for their actions and in discouraging other Tennessee drivers from being so careless in the future.
Source: The Tennessean, "Woman fears parole for driver in DUI crash that killed her fiancé," Adam Tamburin, Oct. 7, 2013