« Good moms, bad moms, misunderstood? | Main | One More Thing I Couldn't Make Up: Prostitutes Get Olympics Training. »

Drunk Driving, Fault, & Compassion

So here's a scenario: Former wealthy jock is out on the town, has several alcoholic beverages, gets in his car, starts driving home, comes to an intersection, and hits another car carrying a young mother.

How do you react? My immediate reaction was that the former jock was/is an irresponsible ass who deserves to go to prison for killing the poor woman.

Pretty cut and dry, right?

OK, here's another scenario: Former wealthy jock, who is now broke as a joke, has been abandoned by all his jock friends, and is living in virtual exile while awaiting trial for DUI and vehicular manslaughter. He says he was over the legal limit, but was not drunk that night (mincing words, maybe?), and his culpability in the accident comes down to him having an obstructed view at that intersection. He also now claims to have evidence (presumably from police reports related to the fatal accident) that the dead woman was drunk driving too, that she was more impaired than he was, and that at the time of the accident she wasn't just driving drunk but was also texting on her cell phone.

You see where this is going? The former wealthy jock is arguing that while his Blood Alcohol Content was above the legal limit, he was not impaired while driving that night. He says that he struck the other car, because his view was obstructed at an awkward intersection. And he's suggesting that considering how far over the legal limit the dead woman allegedly was, along with the fact that she was allegedly texting while drunk driving, maybe she's responsible for the accident...or more responsible than him.

Given the alleged "facts" revealed in the second scenario, does your opinion of the former jock change - for better or worse?

BTW, if you live outside South Florida or aren't a sports fan, none of this is hypothetical. Former New York Yankees star Jim Leyritz is the former jock in question. The woman killed in the traffic accident was Fredia Ann Veitch.

Miami Herald sports columnist Dan Le Batard interviewed Leyritz a few days ago to get his side of the story.

Le Batard caught heat for the column by some readers who thought he showed too much compassion toward Leyritz, but he defended the story, arguing that Leyritz's side of the story hadn't been told before.

Le Batard, in a radio interview this week also raised an interesting question: He didn't cut Leyritz any slack, but he feels for the guy. And what's wrong with that? Naturally he feels for Veitch's family even more, 'cause she doesn't get a shot at a comeback. But where is it written that you can't feel for someone, even if they did wrong? You can feel bad that their life crashed (no pun intended) and burned, even while acknowledging that they played a HUGE role in that crash.

On that note, after reading Le Batard's column, I feel bad for Leyritz. I too feel worse for Veitch's family, but I still feel bad at how far Leyritz has sunk.

Full disclosure: I've had a pint or two after work or during dinner out w/Mrs. B and friends, and then I've driven home without incident. Never again. If nothing else, this is a textbook cautionary tale.

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451b26169e201156fb65c04970c

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Drunk Driving, Fault, & Compassion:

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

insomniac

if you have to give way or stop at an intersection you shouldn't proceed until you know it's clear. if there's an obstruction get into a position to make the right decision; don't go if you can't see. i'm assuming she had right of way. him being over the limit is illegal no matter how drunk or not he feels. how he feels is irrelevant. i say he was in the wrong and gets whatever punishment is given. if she was drunk then it will have impaired her abilities too, say in maybe avoiding his car, but that doesn't mean he gets away with it. he shouldn't have been there. i'm also assuming that one or both of them is a regular drunk driver, and both their lucks ran out that night

og

Accidents happen. Sometimes fatal, most often tragic. A moment's inattention can lead to a lifetime of regret. Instead of treating the situation like this, we get "Hang the bastard" or weeks of media coverage and people in leg irons and orange jumpsuits.

Drinking and driving is a big deal because a bunch of self righteous ninnies made it a big deal. Having a beer or three and driving home is nothing. Millions of people do it every day. Is it always a good idea? Certainly not. Does it always mean someone gets killed? Absolutely not. Are there some people that should never do this? Clearly. But the litigious nature of our scociety has taken the place of common sense.

Kaylia

Good for Le Batard for getting the other side of the story.

One thing... why bother to bring up his profession in your example/real situation?

As a CA resident I had not heard this story but I couldn't help but wonder why it matters

a)what he did or did not do for a living now or inthe past
b) that it was a woman/mother in the other car.

Would the story be any less sad if a father had been killed or a mother had been the only one left alive?

heartinsanfrancisco

I feel strongly about drunk driving. A month after I bought my then-teenage daughter her first car, she was slammed into by a drunk driver with a revoked license for DUI who hit and ran. She and her passenger, sober and heading for the library, could have been killed. Her car was totaled. The guy was actually let off when his abandoned car was found in a car wash a few blocks away because his father was an official in our small NC town.

I think that politics often plays a role in such cases, but for me the bottom line is that drinking and driving do not mix. Ever.

Classof65

I think that many of us sympathize with the drunk drivers because we know that we have driven drunk too. Not "falling down" drunk, but having taken a couple of drinks and then driving home. Most of us have no idea as to how many drinks we can take and still be "safe."

Classof65

og

"drunk" driving is rare. "I had three beers on my way home" is common. MADD and the like have equated the two and now it is criminal activity to have a beer on your way home. Which is utter bullshit. I know a lot of the "MADD' and "SADD" types, and trust me, they drive while insanely stupid, which is WAY worse than driving with a beer in you. the whole "drunk driving" thing disgusts me, and is a classic case of serious legal overreach.

And I don't drink.

Jeni Hill Ertmer

I have mixed feelings about issues like this right now mainly because my son, who is a trucker, (and also doesn't always think to well either) got picked up two months ago for a DUI. His BAC, he was told -a .09 and the limit is .08. No, he was not driving his rig -thankfully, he does have enough sense NOT to do THAT. But still, considering what the consequences could possibly be for him -losing his CDL is a very real probability -for him, the stupidity of his actions may very well cost him his livelihood. I'm not making excuses for his actions. He was wrong, he should never have been behind the wheel at all, regardless and he's also lucky, in that he was merely pulled over for a bad tail light, not for his driving per se, and there was no accident, no injury, no death, etc. And my response to his predicament -No, I don't want to see him lose a job he loves. No I don't want to see him quite possibly lose his home too because finding another job that pays decently, especially in this area, would be extremely difficult since he really doesn't have any other marketable skills. I don't approve at all of his choices in this issue -don't like it one little bit -but still ya know, I love him, want to see him still be able to go to work every day, make a decent living and all that. So it leaves one with a whole lot of ambivalent feelings, for sure. Now, had he been in an accident, had someone been badly injured, even died, I would still love my son, but I sure wouldn't like him very much. That's what I always told my kids when they were growing up that if ever they did something illegal, really bad, etc., I wouldn't like them -i.e. their actions -but that I would still always love him -or them -when addressing all three of my kids during their time living at home, growing up. Hard topic here, for sure.

The CEO

The moral of the story is don't drink and drive, isn't it.

Pamela

There is no excuse for driving inebriated. Period.

Kurt P

The fact that she was texting while driving turned my whole opinion against her.
I drive big trucks in part of my job- even did OTR in Miami.

People who text and drive deserve to be treated worse than drunks, because drunks at keast LOOK at the road they're driving on- and don't force other drivers out of their lane to avoid acidents.

Ajlouny

It doesn't matter who you are, or how famous you are, driving drunk is dangerous. Not even for the you but the people that are around you. We all know this, it's common knowledge, but why people decide to take that chance is beyond me.

The comments to this entry are closed.

-
 
Terms of Service | Privacy Policy | Copyright | About The Miami Herald | Advertise