Categories
Archive 2003 STS&G News Goodove in the News Virginian-Pilot

PROPOSALS WOULD CLOSE DRUNKEN-DRIVING LOOPHOLES

LT. GOV. KAINE SEEKS LONGER SENTENCES, TOUGHER PENALTIES FOR REFUSING TESTS

Author: MICHELLE WASHINGTON THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT

Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine said Monday that he will push for tougher penalties against repeat drunken drivers, joining legislators and others who have called for changes in the wake of recent fatal crashes.

Kaine made the announcement on the steps of the courthouse where repeat drunken driver Roy Lee Everett was sentenced Friday to 14 years in prison for killing a high-school honor student in May.

Both of Kaine’s proposals would target third-time drunken drivers.

If they have two DUI convictions, are stopped again and refuse to take a blood or breath test, they would face one year in jail. The current penalty for refusing to be tested is a one-year driver’s license suspension. The mandatory jail sentence for third-time drunken drivers would increase from 10 days to one year.

Repeat drunken drivers know the system, Kaine said, and know what penalties they are likely to face if picked up again. Neither 10 days in jail nor the loss of a driver’s license is much deterrent, he said, and drunken drivers can sometimes avoid a third DUI conviction simply by refusing to take the test.

“Usually if you’re driving drunk you don’t mind driving on a suspended license,” Kaine said. If passed by the General Assembly, the new penalties would be “a powerful disincentive,” Kaine said.

Kaine said Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney John R. Doyle III pointed out weaknesses in the criminal system that repeat offenders exploit. Neither man mentioned Roy Lee Everett by name, but his case highlighted some of the loopholes.

Everett had surrendered his driving privileges after previous DUI convictions, so he had nothing to lose by refusing to take a blood or breath test. That refusal denied prosecutors evidence of his intoxication that might have led to a murder charge. Everett pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and other charges.

While Everett’s case might be emblematic of problems, Kaine and Doyle said, he was not the sole impetus for the changes.

“There is a hard core of repeat offenders, people who aren’t afraid of a suspended license,” Kaine said.

Kaine said he will introduce the legislation to the General Assembly in January. If passed, it likely would take effect in July.

Lawyer Jeffrey Stredler represents the family of Landon Chambers, the 16-year-old boy killed by Roy Lee Everett. The family has long hoped something good could come of Landon’s death, he said.

“It sounds like they’re moving in the right direction toward making the roads safer for everybody,” Stredler said.

Leaders of area Mothers Against Drunk Driving chapters said the measures will close loopholes that let repeat offenders beat the system.

“It’s been a long time in coming,” said Michael Goodove, president of the Southside chapter of MADD, which includes Norfolk. “You’ve seen a shifting of penalties for DUI but no shifting for hard-core repeat offenders who know the system very well.”

Dick Jackson, president of the Peninsula chapter of MADD, said the new laws should have an effect on drunken driving in the long run.

“If we had had this a few years ago, maybe Mr. Everett wouldn’t be sitting there,” with a 14-year prison term, Jackson said.

Reach Michelle Washington at michelle.washington(AT)pilotonline.com or at 446-2287.

Caption:
Photo
GENEVIEVE ROSS/THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT
Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine, right, and Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney John
R. Doyle III discuss proposed changes to the DUI law Monday on the
steps of Norfolk Circuit Court.

Copyright (c) 2003 The Virginian-Pilot
Record Number: 0310140079

Categories
Archive 1996 STS&G News Goodove in the News Virginian-Pilot

DRUNKEN DRIVER TO PAY VICTIM’S SCHOOL $100 A YEAR FOR 14 YEARS \ SENTENCE IS IN ADDITION TO A $100,000 INSURANCE SETTLEMENT TO THE FAMILY.

A drunken driver who killed a teenager on New Year’s Day has agreed to an unusual settlement of the lawsuit against him: He will pay $100 to the boy’s school every year on the anniversary of the teen’s death.

And he will do it for 14 years – once a year for every year of the dead boy’s life.

The settlement was the idea of Michael L. Goodove, a Norfolk lawyer who lost his own brother to a drunken driver in Charlottesville in 1990.

The settlement also gives $100,000 to the dead boy’s family, the maximum under the driver’s insurance policy, before lawyer fees are deducted. The $100-a-year payment is above and beyond the insurance.

Norfolk Judge John E. Clarkson approved the settlement Friday.

“I insisted on something from the driver personally,” said Goodove, who represents the dead boy’s family and is chairman of the local chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. “It sends a message to him, it sends a message to other offenders, and it memorializes the victim.”

The victim was 14-year-old Ernest “Smokey” Hunt of Chesapeake, an articulate, well-liked honor student at Deep Creek Middle School. He was sleeping in the back of a car driven by his brother when a drunken driver plowed into the car’s rear, pinning the teen inside.

“He did everything right,” Goodove said. “He was an honor student, he was college-bound. By all indications, he was going to make it. Then a drunk driver got him.”

The accident happened at 3 a.m. New Year’s Day on Interstate 264 near the Berkley Bridge.

The drunken driver – Steve F. Morris, 23, of Chesapeake – pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and driving under the influence. He was sentenced to two years and 11 months in prison.

Morris had an extensive driving record, including four previous convictions for speeding and one for driving on a suspended license, Goodove said.

At Morris’ sentencing in August, Hunt’s relatives described the devastation the accident caused their family.

“My father just sits around thinking of things to do to get his mind off of Smokey,” said Hunt’s brother, Chantalle, in a written statement. “Most of the time my dad keeps to himself. That hurts knowing how he feels. . . It is hard living in a house that nobody wants to be in. I had plans to move out, but now I’m scared to.”

The boy’s mother, Edna R. Floyd, wrote, “There is no more joy and laughter in my household, only the pain and lots of tears. My family is very, very afraid that I die, too, because my pain is so great. My husband watches over me at night so that I will not hurt myself.”

Teachers wrote about what an extraordinary student Ernest was. He was a member of the National Junior Honor Society and the school’s XLR-8 team.

“He was a very positive, upbeat young man who was willing to give of himself. Whenever anything needed to be done, he volunteered,” wrote one teacher, V.E. Valentine.

“Ernest was a joy to teach and was an exemplary student,” wrote five teachers in the XLR-8 program. “Academically, Ernest maintained the honor roll every year of his life. He worked diligently to reap these honors. His polite and trusting manner brought a smile to the faces of his teachers.”

The boy’s future seemed bright. Last year, he wrote an upbeat poem about himself titled “Me.” In it, he described himself as “a young, ambitious black male” who feels sadness in the world but tries to “touch the hearts of everyone around me.”

“I dream every night I go to bed. I try to make the best out of life. I hope everything I want will soon be mine,” he wrote.

Hunt’s family sued Morris for the boy’s “wrongful death” in Norfolk Circuit Court. Normally, such cases are settled for whatever insurance is available.

In this case, however, Goodove insisted that Morris write a check to Hunt’s school every year on the anniversary of Hunt’s death, as a reminder to himself and the community of the teen’s life.

It is not known what the school will do with the money.

“My son believed that education was the key to success and to a bright future,” his mother wrote in June. “Therefore, I feel that part of Mr. Morris’ sentence should be to donate his income to Deep Creek Middle School, towards education so that we can have better people and less crime.”

Morris will write the first check on Jan. 1, 2000 – the first New Year’s Day that he will be free from prison.

Caption:
[Color Photo]
Ernest “Smokey” Hunt was 14 when he was killed on Jan. 1.

BOY’S POEM
This poem was written last year by Ernest “Smokey” Hunt. He was
killed Jan. 1, 1996, by a drunken driver.
“Me”
I am a young, ambitious, black male.
I wonder if I will ever live a successful life.
I hear the roaring of the sun’s massive power.
I see myself living exactly the way I want.
I want to be well-liked by everybody.
I am a young, ambitious, black male.

I pretend to be happy.
I feel the sadness of the world.
I touch the hearts of everyone around me.
I worry about nothing.
I am a young, ambitious, black male.

I understand that nothing in this world is free.
I say go with the flow.
I dream every night I go to bed.
I try to make the best out of life.
I hope everything I want will soon be mine.
I am a young, ambitious black male.

Copyright (c) 1996 The Virginian-Pilot
Record Number: 9611120217