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

Judge gives man 10 years in drunken-driving death

Virginian-Pilot, The (Norfolk, VA)

Author: JON FRANK THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT

A 50-year-old man who was driving drunk in November when he killed the father of two children was sentenced Tuesday to 10 years in prison.

Steven V. Arcese has been in custody since the Nov. 3 accident that killed 26-year-old David C. Fisher.

The accident occurred near London Bridge and Dam Neck roads, where Arcese’s Audi station wagon crashed head-on with Fisher’s Chevrolet Cavalier. Fisher’s two children were passengers in the car but were not seriously injured.

In April, Arcese pleaded guilty to second-offense driving under the influence and aggravated involuntary manslaughter. He faced up to 21 years in prison.

In court Tuesday, Arcese told Fisher’s family: “In no way, on that horrible night in November, did I intend to cause that accident. I am sorry, I am sorry, I am sorry.”

Circuit Judge Thomas S. Shadrick began to cry as he expressed sympathy to Fisher’s family shortly before issuing the sentence.

Shadrick gave Arcese the maximum 21 years but suspended all but 10.

Arcese will be on supervised probation after his release, with another 11 years in prison possible if he misbehaves during that time, Shadrick said.

Shadrick said harsher sentences likely are ahead for repeat offenders who drink and drive and hurt others. But, Shadrick said, until the law changes, he is obligated to stay close to state-mandated guidelines.

The maximum sentence recommended for Arcese by state guidelines was about 9.5 years in prison, Shadrick said.

The judge said he exceeded the guidelines a little to “make a statement, because the guidelines are a little low.”

Jim Fisher, the victim’s father, who has become an advocate for stiffer drunken-driving sentences, said he was satisfied with the time Arcese will serve in prison.

“This is a start,” Fisher said. “It is higher than the guidelines and that is all we were hoping for.”

Fisher said he hopes the decision to keep Arcese locked up without bond until sentencing will set the standard for others charged with second-offense DUI and higher.

The public outcry against drunken drivers has intensified in recent months after a rash of fatal DUI accidents.

In Norfolk recently, police say a repeat DUI offender killed a Lake Taylor High School student after a magistrate allowed him out of jail on a $1,000 bond on a previous DUI charge.

After the sentencing, Moody E. “Sonny” Stallings, one of two attorneys who represented Arcese, said he was “prepared for a little worse” because attitudes against drunken drivers are changing rapidly.

Much of the change stems from public reaction to the Arcese case and other recent fatal DUI crashes.

“The community is talking about this case,” Stallings said, especially at the Oceanfront, where Arcese is a well-known resident.

People are starting to realize when they are out drinking, they should “get a cab, call a friend or walk, because this kind of tragedy will be repeated again,” Stallings said.

Michael L. Goodove, a Norfolk lawyer and president of the local chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said he would have preferred a longer sentence for Arcese.

“I think more time would have sent a stronger message to the community,” Goodove said. “and kept an habitual offender off the roads.”

Reach Jon Frank at 222-5122 or jon.frank(AT)pilotonline.com

Caption:
Color Photo
Steven V. Arcese, 50, faced 21 years, but the judge suspended all
but 10.
Photo
David C. Fisher, 26, was killed in a drunken-driving accident Nov.
3. in Virginia Beach.

Copyright (c) 2003 The Virginian-Pilot
Record Number: 0307020146