Turning The Corner On DUIs?

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) has become a real problem and the courts are backlogged with cases.

Some cases don't get in front of a judge for up to a year.

Many of those cases involve repeat offenders.

And while there are some that don't seem to get the message that driving under the influence is a serious offense, it appears others do.

It's a sight we've seen far too often lately, a multiple offense DUI suspect heading to jail.

In this case, 31-year-old Brandon Kennedy will spend four to six years in prison for his fourth DUI.

"Fortunately he didn't hurt anybody else," Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine said. "Obviously somebody like this is a menace to have on the streets. He was over three times the legal limit."

Last winter, Kennedy drove a car into a house at 47th Avenue and Maple at 60 to 70 miles an hour.

Kennedy's blood alcohol content was .291.

He's made eight trips to treatment centers.

The sentence reflects a reluctance to change.

"A lot of times the associations people have in their comfort zone, in their home area can contribute to the continued abuse in use of alcohol," Defense Attorney Randy Paragas said.

"But there are people that go through treatment processes who are put on probation and comply with the conditions of their probation with their probation officer, are gainfully employed and that's what we're looking for," Kleine said.

Michael Blakely appears to fit that mold.

Although he didn't want to comment for our story, the 27-year-old works and attends college.

He's completed a treatment program and is doing after care.

Blakely now rides a bicycle everywhere he goes.

"Hopefully what you do is you make a difference and you get people to change their thought process or do what they are supposed to do," Kleine said.

Kyle Mulledy is also at a crossroads.

A second DUI brought some jail time and probation.

Paragas says the back log of cases helped his client develop positive patterns.

"We've had a year to see if Kyle's really turning the corner and he's demonstrated all the right things to show that he's attempting to turn the corner," Paragas said.

The alternative could result in years behind bars.

Kleine says there are around 180 pending DUI cases.

He says federal funding for a two-person task force to help clear out some of that back log has been approved.

Another problem facing those who do want to change is a long wait to get into a treatment facility.

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