Appalling Prison Sentence for Drunk Driver that Killed a Tow Truck Driver
As an Issaquah wrongful death attorney, I have seen many accidents that resulted in life changing injuries for the victim and the driver who caused the accident. Drunk drivers cause too many fatal accidents and serious injuries and it is time to increase the penalties for drunk driving and for vehicular homicide. This may seem drastic, but we need to seriously consider raising penalties to that of second degree murder: life in prison.
Shavelle Lewis, 21, pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and hit and run on Thursday after an accident where she swerved across all five lanes of traffic and hit a tow truck driver. The tow truck driver, William Padilla, 51, was kneeling next to a disabled vehicle on the Spokane Street onramp when Lewis’ car struck and killed him. After the accident, Lewis did a U-turn and drove off. Police found her and her car nearby. When she was questioned, she smelled like alcohol and had bloodshot eyes. She claims she had a glass of wine that night. Since 2008, Lewis has had 14 warrants out for her arrest. In fact, she was arrested on these outstanding warrants just two days before the accident and she was released 24 hours before the accident. She faces up to 54 months in prison.
The sentence in this case is appalling. For driving under the influence and killing a man, she is receiving a MAXIMUM sentence of only about four and a half years. In my opinion, she should be facing life in prison. At the very least, she should be serving as many years in jail as her irresponsible behavior took away from Padilla and his family.
Recently, several new laws have been created in Washington to curb the problem of drunk driving. However, these are proving to not be enough of a deterrent. Over the last few weeks I have seen an incredible amount of drunk driving cases, many of them involving repeat offenders. With her previous record, Lewis’ sentence is not nearly severe enough. Our laws concerning vehicular homicide need to be looked at more closely and amended so that the penalty fits the crime.
Losing a loved family member or friend is an incredibly painful experience. Whether it be in a car accident or not, the last thing that you and your family want to have to deal with or worry about is legal issues and complications. You deserve to know that the legal situation will be taken care of with professionalism and respect. Because I believe so strongly in this, I co-authored a book with attorney Patrick J. Kang entitled “In Case of Death: Straight Talk on Washington Wrongful Death.” We have made this book available free of charge to Washington residents and it can be found by clicking the preceding link.