Drunken driving victims share ordeals to protect others

first_imgA cane in his hand, the man approached the front of the conference room. Behind him, a picture of a demolished truck appeared on an overhead screen.A dark-haired woman handed him a microphone as he faced the audience of 100 people.“My name is Doug Miner,” he said. “And I’m an alcoholic.”Miner explained how the photo of his truck was taken after he drove drunk in 1997 and crashed into a wall in Portland. He wasn’t supposed to live. Today, the victim of a traumatic brain injury has short-term memory problems and has had to teach himself basic motor skills.“Everything I do, the doctors said I couldn’t do,” the 43-year-old Vancouver man said. “I had to grow up all over again.”Miner shared his story to show the terrible potential effects of drinking and driving. His audience mostly consisted of DUI defendants who had been court-ordered to attend Clark County’s victim impact panel class.The DUI victim impact panel program, which reaches approximately 2,400 people a year, isn’t new; it’s been offered in Clark County for 20 years. Still, it comes with added importance now, proponents say, because of stiffer penalties for DUI drivers who kill.Last month, Gov. Chris Gregoire signed into law a bill that raises the stakes for those convicted of DUI vehicular homicide to the same punishment as first-degree manslaughter. The sentence for a first-time offender used to be 31 to 41 months in prison. Now, offenders face 6- to 8-year terms.last_img

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