Post Dispatch Article Exposes Lax Drunk Driving Prosecutions Leading to Serious St. Louis Car Wrecks

By March 12, 2009Auto Accidents

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran an in-depth article March 1 on problems with how our criminal justice system handles drunk drivers. As a St. Louis car accident attorney, I was pleased to see attention being paid to the problem of chronic drunk drivers, who form a large minority of drunk driving arrests every year. The article appeared after chronic DUI defendants with long past records killed innocent people around Missouri and southern Illinois in three separate accidents within a month, including one accident I blogged about, in which a man with six prior DUIs killed a young mother, her son and their friend.
According to the Post-Dispatch, drunk drivers stay on the road in part because police sometimes don’t always notify prosecutors or state driver licensing agencies about drunk driving arrests. In some cases, this is an oversight, but in others, it’s an intentional choice. Fed up with the paperwork a serious drunk-driving case requires and battles with DUI defense lawyers, officers sometimes choose to charge the defendant with a lesser traffic violation instead. In other cases, prosecutors don’t know about prior convictions in other states, so they charge repeat offenders as if they were first-timers who made an isolated mistake.
The result is that people like Donald Canterbery stay on the road. Canterbery was suspected of driving drunk Feb. 23 when he rear-ended a couple’s car, pushing them into oncoming traffic and killing both along with their unborn child. He had four prior DUI arrests, including one that resulted in a plea bargain in January. A Madison County state’s attorney told the newspaper that if he had known about Canterbery’s three previous out-of-state arrests, he would have pushed for felony charges carrying prison time.
As a traffic accident lawyer in Southern Illinois and greater St. Louis, I applaud the Post-Dispatch for investigating the apparent high rate of drunk-driving recidivists in our region. It’s well-established by research that driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is very dangerous, raising the chances that an innocent passer-by will be killed or left with a lifelong disability. Carey, Danis & Lowe has handled many cases on behalf of clients who were seriously injured or lost a loved one due to intoxicated driving. Under Missouri and Illinois law, you have the right to pursue these cases regardless of whether prosecutors have chosen to pursue criminal charges.
If you or someone you love has been hurt by a drunk driver in southern Illinois or Missouri and you’d like to learn more about filing a legal claim, please contact the Lowe Law Firm for a free consultation.