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I was shocked and very upset to read about Troy Hovey’s sentencing. Judge Robert Glusman handed down the weak sentence of 180 days in jail and three years probation for taking the life of Amit Tandon.

Mr. Tandon’s widow is pregnant and was unable to face the man who killed her husband in court, but she sent the judge a letter asking for the maximum of 10 years in prison. But friends and relatives of Hovey sent letters also, telling the judge about what a wonderful man Hovey was.

This case did not go in front of a jury. Hovey pleaded no contest to a felony charge of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and driving with more than .08 percent of alcohol in his system. In actuality, Hovey had a blood alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit He knew what he did.

I have always contended that drunk drivers make choices. These are not “accidents” (any good plaintiff attorney knows to call it “the collision”), but they are mistakes. Mistakes are made when people make wrong choices. Defense counsel cited addiction and alcoholism as excuses for him. The judge expects Hovey to “embrace recovery.” Hovey has tried twice before to get sober and was even participating in an outpatient program at the time of the accident.

What really irritates me is that Judge Glusman defends his ruling by saying that probation has not been prohibited in vehicular manslaughter cases and that means the Legislature wants judges to examine each case on its merits. Well fine! Look at the merits of this case! He knew he had a drinking problem (in tort law we call that forseeability), he went drinking, he got really drunk, he got back in his car, he raced down Highway 99 at 60-80 miles per hour, he crossed the median, and slammed head-on to a husband and soon-to-be father. He killed this man. Where is the justice for Tandon’s family?

The judge is confident that “this won’t happen again,” but his parting words are “If I find you’re drinking, I’ll be the last person you want to see.”

I am incredibly saddened by this outcome and it’s message to other drivers who drink and then take stupid risks. It’s not the drinking that’s the problem, it’s the driving after drinking. Get drunk to your hearts content, but STAY HOME. As citizens of America we have every right in the world to drink alcohol, but nobody has the right to put the lives of others at risk.

Am I being too harsh? I know I am coming down hard, but I firmly believe that there is no excuse for drunk driving in today’s day-and-age. With cell phones, taxi companies, public transit, volunteer drivers, and so many other options, drinking and driving should be a thing of the past.

What do you think?

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