What Should Punishment Be for 3 DUI's?

By: Ann McIntire Email
By: Ann McIntire Email

Judge Leigh Ann Retelsdorf said in court that DUI sentences are the hardest the court has. She said when someone drinks and gets behind the wheel, it's just as dangerous as someone pointing a loaded gun at someone's head, but the intent is completely different.

She said no one drinks and drives to hurt anyone, but unfortunately, plenty have been hurt and lives forever changed.

Timothy Pawloski was the first to go before the judge, sentenced for his third DUI. He spoke of his sobriety to the court saying, "it was a great year without drinking."

Judge Retelsdorf gave Pawloski two years of probation, a $600 fine, and suspended his license for three years. His was the lightest sentence Tuesday.

The toughest punishment went to Travis Penke, who was sentenced to 12 to 18 months behind bars for what was actually his fourth DUI, just reduced down to a lesser charge.

Jaime Smithhisler will also do jail time. He actually has had six DUI's in his lifetime, but three have been dropped because they happened 15 years ago. He will serve a year in county jail, with work release.

"Everyone is different in terms of when they come to the realization of their alcohol problems, and it's interesting the different factors that combine, sometimes it's the motivation in the court system, sometimes it's just a true self revelation," said defense attorney, Randy Paragas.

Paragas represented two of the defendants, James Sampier and Christopher Christiansen, who both received probation. He says keeping offenders on track if they are already getting help, is key.

Those who have lost loved ones to drunk driving, argue probation, certainly after prior offenses, isn't enough punishment.

"They don't get it, and maybe doubling things, but I think the book needs to be thrown at them," said Bob Schmill, the father of Matt who was hit and killed in April 2004, by a drunk driver as he was walking.

"That empty chair is always empty, at every meal, at every family celebration, at every holiday," said Schmill.

Again, of the five people sentenced for their third offense DUI, three received probation, a fine, and had their license revoked for several years. They will serve 30 days in jail.

The other two were sentenced to jail time, one a year, the other 12 to 18 months.

Judge Retelsdorf began the afternoon saying, "I don't give probation lightly."

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