Editorials

Tallying the high costs of driving drunk

Drunken drivers Crystal Steinheimer, Katherine A. Brinkley and Jeffrey Rynders. The trio is responsible for four people’s deaths and three others’ serious injuries.
Drunken drivers Crystal Steinheimer, Katherine A. Brinkley and Jeffrey Rynders. The trio is responsible for four people’s deaths and three others’ serious injuries. Provided

Drunken driving fatalities are down in whole numbers as well as in percentage of fatal crashes in Illinois, moving from 968 DUI crash deaths representing about 60 percent of all fatal crashes in 1982 to 389 representing about 40 percent of all fatal crashes in 2013.

But you sure wouldn’t think things were getting better based on recent local news.

Crystal Steinheimer, 21, of Red Bud pleaded guilty to driving drunk when she hit and killed Abigail Liefer and Hannah Marie Porter on Jan. 10, 2015. She was underage and twice the legal limit for blood alcohol during the crash, which also seriously injured another young woman. Her license was taken after the fatal crash, but that summer she was again caught driving drunk.

Katherine A. Brinkley, 27, of Waterloo, was sentenced to seven years in prison for a drunken driving crash a year ago that seriously injured two Columbia teens. Brinkley already was in state prison for two unrelated felonies in St. Clair County.

Jeffrey Rynders, 28, of Alton pleaded guilty to drunken driving after hitting a motorcycle and killing a Wood River couple on Sept. 15, 2013. He faces up to 20 years in prison.

Those ads claiming the cost of dealing with a DUI is at least $10,000 are misleading. When Brinkley gets out of prison, she will still owe her victims $545,000 for their injuries.

She, Rynders and Steinheimer will live with costs greater than money or even the portions of their lives wasted in prison. They will live with the damage they have done to others through their reckless foolishness.

Weigh those costs against the cost of a taxi or Uber.

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