Monday’s sentencing of a 67-year-old woman to life in prison in the death of Dayton resident Laura Staugaard was a sad reminder that as our population ages, so are the offenders we’re dealing with.
We can name two other people being held in Douglas County Jail who are facing mandatory prison sentences after they failed to get the hint that Nevada takes drinking and driving very seriously.
None of the folks facing that trip up the river are particularly young.
Joan Kathryn Wenger’s claim she spent her time on the lam securing a future home shows a care that she failed to exercise when she was bombing up Highway 395 from Mammoth Lakes taking swigs from a bottle of Wild Turkey in February 2020 while driving someone else’s vehicle.
She’ll likely have the rest of her life to reflect on her decision-making as she serves at least 10 years before she’s eligible for parole. Unfortunately, if she’s paroled at age 77, she may well still be able to get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle after imbibing. There’s nothing stopping her but a system that doesn’t take the danger posed by a grandmotherly woman with a severe alcohol problem.
Wenger got the maximum because she killed someone, but that’s the possible outcome for anyone who gets behind the wheel under the influence of any substance.
Offenders like 60-year-old Richard Duane Dow actually served a prison term for driving under the influence, and he’s almost certain to receive another after a jury convicted him of the same crime.
Leslie Diane Meier is only 50, but she’s been in custody since June 23 awaiting sentencing for her subsequent DUI.
There’s no age limit to the possibility that someone who’s under the influence of some substance can get behind the wheel and do irreparable damage.
The folks we’ve listed here are facing years in prison, but we doubt that will fix them.
That’s one of the reasons that third DUI offenders can opt for a treatment program instead of prison. Thankfully most people still are able to get a clue before they end up getting on the road and killing someone.
Let’s promise ourselves something this holiday season. Whatever the intoxicant of choice, let’s give a thought to the other people on the highways and their love ones, and call for a ride, designate a driver or just stay home.
No family should have to go through the trauma of losing someone to something as preventable as drunken driving.