I’ve said before that as long as we view drunk driving as a the scourge that is is, do we really impose as harsh a sentence on those who kill the innocent while driving drunk.

The answer to that question lies in the sentence handed down this past Thursday in the courtroom of Judge Robert Reed when he sentenced former “Melrose Place” actress Amy Locane – Bovenizer to just 3 years in prison for driving 3 times the legal limit when she killed 60 year old Helen Seeman of Montgomery Township in a car driven by her husband, Fred.

Just moments before the fatal accident, Locane-Bovenizer rear ended another car and fled the scene.
According to this,

Judge Robert Reed cited the actress’ two small children — including a 4-year-old with Crohn’s disease — for imposing a sentence that was about a fifth of what Locane-Bovenizer could have faced under the maximum penalty.

"The death and injury suffered on that side of the room is lain at your feet," Reed told Locane-Bovenizer, pointing to the family of Helen Seeman, the woman killed in the crash. "The harm caused to your daughters is caused by you."

But, the judge said, he cannot treat innocent children as "collateral damage" and said it is "not in the interest of justice to visit the consequences of her crime" on Locane-Bovenizer’s daughters.

The sentence provoked rage from Seeman’s husband and son.
"This isn’t justice!" Ford Seeman, her son, yelled.

"Having a sick child doesn’t give you a pass to kill my wife!" shouted Fred Seeman, the victim’s husband, who was critically injured in the crash.

Reed sentenced Locane-Bovenizer, 41, to three years each for charges of vehicular homicide and assault by auto, but those sentences will run concurrently. If the maximum penalty had been imposed — 5 to 10 years for vehicular homicide and 3-5 years for assault by auto — Locane-Bovenizer could have faced up to 15 years in prison.

She will be eligible for parole in about 2 1/2 years and will receive credit for the 81 days she spent in jail after her trial ended Nov. 27.

On June 27, 2010, Locane-Bovenizer’s blood-alcohol content was more than three times the legal limit when her SUV crashed into a Mercury Milan turning into a driveway in Montgomery Township, prosecutors said. She was driving 53 mph in a 35 mph zone, they said.

Helene Seeman, the passenger in the Milan, was killed in the crash, while her husband, who was driving, was critically injured.

Before imposing the sentence Thursday, Reed said this case illustrates the scourge of drunk driving in society, and went on to list various statistics. Based on one estimate, the judge said, three people would have died from drunk driving in the time that Thursday’s hearing had been in session.

Jan Withers, president of the national advocacy group Mothers Against Drunk Driving said”

“(Locane-Bovenizer) got behind the wheel of a car while very, very, very impaired and the result was that a wonderful woman, Helene Seeman, lost her life and all her family was sentenced to the rest of their lives in pain. Certainly, justice is called for.”

If Reed had followed state sentencing guidelines for second-degree crimes — a Somerset County jury in November convicted the Hopewell resident of vehicular manslaughter — Locane-Bovenizer would have faced up to five years but no more than 10 years in state prison. Reed, however, chose to take mitigating factors into consideration and instead handed down a third-degree sentence.

“The case illustrates the scourge of drunk driving”.

Those words from the judge ring hollow in the face of the sentence handed down.
And while he feels for Locane-Bovenizer’s child afflicted with Crohn’s disease, apparently the child’s mother didn’t take that into account when she decided to drink and drive!

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