A young woman's life changed forever when a driver under the influence smashed head on into her car. But the shock of what happened didn't end on impact. That other driver couldn't be charged with driving under the influence or D-U-I. He had been huffing on a cleaner can.
Two months after being hit by a huffing driver Lindsey Anderson says Nebraska D-U-I laws need better balance.Lindsey says, " Penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol and driving under the influence of huffing should all be the same."
Omaha's city prosecutor says the law won't allow him to charge the huffing driver with a D-U-I. City Prosecutor David Smalheiser says, "It has the same affect on the body and ability to drive as someone driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. But it’s not a drug, it's a chemical compound. Not all chemical compounds are drugs so I can't charge him for under the influence of a drug."
A young man behind the wheel of a pickup inhaling from a cleaner can crossed into Lindsey’s lane near 168th and Fort. Lindsey's dad was on the scene minutes later. Greg Lovett says, " First thing I thought is she didn't make it."
Broken bones are healing after four surgeries while Lindsey is a patient at Lincoln’s Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital. Lindsey is determined to be doing a lot of walking and talking soon about the dangers in this can if used for huffing.
The teacher will use her painful experience as a teachable moment that goes beyond the warning label on a cleaner can. Lindsey Anderson says, " I want parents to realize when they see these cans in their children’s rooms they're probably not using them to clean their computers. They're using them to get high and if you do it while driving you're going to hurt somebody or your self."
And she's a perfect witness for change in the driving under the influence laws that the prosecutor says is needed.
David Smalheiser says, " By amending he law hopefully we can make it an enhance-able offense and make it a second or third offense.That way we can use probation like in drunk driving cases to get treatment."
Written on the grease board in Lindsey’s hospital room a declaration that makes therapy easier to endure.
It says, "One step closer to home." And nearer to Lindsey's goal of getting the law changed so that huffing and driving is a D-U-I.
The driver of the pickup 18 year old Christian Lacey will be sentenced in September for Willful Reckless Driving and being under the influence of an inhalant.
Combined the maximum sentence would be about five months in jail. If huffing had been covered by the D-U-I law he could have faced a felony for causing severe injury.
A message left with someone at Lacey's home didn't lead to a return call for comment.