A wrong way driver who caused a serious accident Monday night will not face felony charges.
Twenty-two-year-old Adrian Hagensen will be charged with four misdemeanors: second degree aggravated DUI, willful reckless driving, driving on a revoked license, and open container.
Hagensen plead not guilty to two charges of drunk driving in court on Friday. His bail was set at $50,000 on each count.
Hagensen is accused of driving into oncoming traffic on West Dodge, near 96th Street, and crashing into a car driven by 23-year-old Jamie Kennedy.
Kennedy remains hospitalized at Creighton University Medical Center. Officials say her condition is improving.
Hagensen already had a previous arrest for drunk driving but his court date is pending. Therefore, the most recent incident counts as a first offense.
According to Deputy Douglas County Attorney Matt Kuhse, Kennedy's injuries are not serious enough to warrant felony charges. Kuhse says Nebraska law requires injuries to create a risk of death, disfigurement or loss of a bodily function.
Hagensen faces up to two years jail time, the maximum allowed by law.
D.U.I. laws, in general, have gotten tougher recently, which law enforcement officers like Sergeant Dan Klimek, of the Nebraska State Patrol, says has been a big help.
"I don't care if you drink. I don't care if you get drunk. I do care if you get behind the wheel," he said.
One driver's decision, back in 1990, forever changed the then 31 year-old Doug Kruse, son of state senator Lowen Kruse.
"A teenager, over the limit, was testing out a sports car and hit him from behind, at the officer said a hundred miles an hour," said Senator Kruse.
Kruse’s son, left paralyzed, was lucky to have even survived. However, legal loop holes gave the driver just thirty days behind bars. "We don't get angry. We simply get more determined."
Kruse and his wife crusaded for tougher drunk driving penalties. "Parents need to take it more seriously,” said Ruth Kruse. “They need to talk to their children."
She joined Project Extra Mile, as a board member. Senator Kruse helped change state law. This past year, a third offense drunk driver was made eligible for felony charges, if the blood alcohol level reached .15.
"A person of my size, twelve to fifteen drinks. It's not inadvertent. It's not accidental. It's not someone stopping by the bar on the way home. This is serious, serious drinking," he said.
According to Sgt. Klimek, the change in state law has been a big help in keeping the roadways safer. "It's just helped us and given us more tools to take the repeat offender and the problem drunk that is testing extremely high off the roads."
Still, it's not an automatic felony, until a fifth offense.
"From the legislature to law enforcement to the courts, we're all looking at this as a problem," said Sgt. Klimek.
Kruse added, "The laws are tough enough. The think we would feel mostly is the public attitude is not tough enough."
Tough enough, he said, to fully realize the consequences of one drunken decision.
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