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Crime and Punishment?
July 18th 2003, 19:19 CEST by CheesyPoof

An elderly gentlemen got into a terrible accident on July 17th.  Apparently he hit the gas instead of the brake sent his car at full throttle into a crowded market and in an instant killed 8 people, critically injured several more and leaving dozens with minor injuries.  Overnight another person succumbed brining the death total to 9.  Preliminary toxicology tests indicate no drugs, alcohol, or psychoactive drugs were in his system.  This has all the clues of just being a horrible, horrible accident.

The issue now is what to do with the driver.  Consider the following quotes from the linked article,

Police and residents of this Southern California seaside city were questioning Thursday morning whether the 86-year-old man whose car plowed though a crowd of people the previous afternoon, killing nine and injuring dozens of others, should have been behind the wheel at all.

and

Weller has not been arrested, but authorities were considering whether the case was "manslaughter of some type" and investigating whether he was qualified to drive.

and

Police searching Weller's home for medications and evidence of his fitness to drive found that Weller recently "struck the back of his garage at least twice" with his car, Butts said Thursday in a television interview.


It looks like to me that the prosecution is looking for something, anything to charge him with.  What I want to know is, what does sending this person to prison* accomplish?  It's not going to prevent future accidents.  All it does is exact some revenge to make people feel better, because something must be done.  Instead of making a scapegoat out of the driver and trying to exact some sort of revenge, maybe it should be the grounds to overhaul the DMV with respect to senior drivers.  I imagine that the thought of killing 9 (or more) people would be punishment enough.

* I realize the odds of sending a 86 year old man to prison is nil, but is it worth the effort of a trial, and tearing up old wounds (when the trial would happen) for the families to get a conviction?

Now for your M0nty talking points, what do you think should be done to the driver?  How is society served by send him to prison?  Is it just revenge sending him to jail?  Should something be done?  Is it enough for this gentleman to know the destruction he cause to so many families?  How do you prevent this in the future, e.g. fix the DMV?
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#1 by Shadarr
2003-07-18 19:42:17
shadarr@yahoo.com http://digital-luddite.com
I just hope that if the US uses this as an excuse to finally start testing seniors and revoking licenses, Canada follows suit without waiting for someone to do the same sort of thing here.  We've had at least two old people do exactly the same thing during the 18 years I've lived in Victoria (one of them accidentally put the car in reverse, then stamped on the gas instead of the brake and backed across a street, through a hedge, and into a laundromat), the only difference being that no one was killed.
#2 by ProStyle
2003-07-18 19:54:47
http://prostyle.deviantart.com
Capital Punishment is really the only way I see this being resolved.

I'm like a quote out of context...
#3 by Bailey
2003-07-18 19:55:51
Let's not stop at taking driving privileges away from old people, let's put them on ice floes when they become useless and irritating!

Scotch makes you good at a lot of things, like yelling at your wife, but itís terrible for hand-eye coordination.
#4 by Bailey
2003-07-18 19:56:25
As an addendum, young people who are useless and irritating go on the floe as well.

Scotch makes you good at a lot of things, like yelling at your wife, but itís terrible for hand-eye coordination.
#5 by Bailey
2003-07-18 19:56:54
Also, middle-aged people.

Scotch makes you good at a lot of things, like yelling at your wife, but itís terrible for hand-eye coordination.
#6 by Bailey
2003-07-18 19:57:14
Collicky infants.

Scotch makes you good at a lot of things, like yelling at your wife, but itís terrible for hand-eye coordination.
#7 by Bailey
2003-07-18 19:57:25
And two of every beast known to man!

Scotch makes you good at a lot of things, like yelling at your wife, but itís terrible for hand-eye coordination.
#8 by TheTrunkDr.
2003-07-18 20:02:21
There should obviously be mandatory testing every few years beyond a certain age. I've never understood why that sort of system wasn't introduced ages ago.

I find being fairly ambivalent about the suffering of others makes me the greatest humanitarian of all.
  --Bailey
#9 by jjohnsen
2003-07-18 20:06:14
http://www.johnsenclan.com
How about mandatory testing yearly for anyone over the age of 65?  Of course, those old bags are a bunch of liars, so that might not even work.  My grandfather told us he had his wife whisper the little eye chart to him so he could pass, and the guy at the counter didn't even notice.
#10 by jjohnsen
2003-07-18 20:07:54
http://www.johnsenclan.com
I'm also in favor of Bailey's solution.  For seniors only though, and I would hope my children love me enough to do the same.  Once I need a diaper, don't know where I am, and can't function normally, please just feed me to the wolves.
#11 by CheesyPoof
2003-07-18 20:15:07
The death toll is up to 10 now.  I can't help put think this guy is going to be charged with something, but I see that as a mistake.  When I think of the criminal justice system I have three goals in mind that they are trying to accomplish.  One is to be a deterrent so people won't commit crimes, two is to provide appropriate punishment for those that do commit the crimes, and the third is, *snicker*, to reform them so they don't do it again.  In this case there's no deterrent or reform because it's an accident.  All that is left is punishment and it seems more like revenge.  Take away his license, but that's it.
#12 by Hugin
2003-07-18 20:20:21
lmccain@nber.org
What you say isn't unreasonable, but I find it difficult to wrap my brain around just taking away a license as adequate response to killing ten people, even accidentally.
#13 by Shadarr
2003-07-18 20:22:07
shadarr@yahoo.com http://digital-luddite.com
I heard about somebody's grandpa who was blind in one eye, but passed the test by covering the same eye with a different hand.  Them oldsters is wiley.
#14 by Dumdeedum
2003-07-18 20:29:13
http://www.dumdeedum.com
Mandatory dippage into the FEV vats at 65 and it'd never happen again.  Over here in Blighty you've got to retake your test at about that age and every 5(?) years thereafter, I'm surprised the same sorta thing isn't already implemented in the States.

But then I've always thought that everyone should be re-tested about every 10 years or so regardless of age since cars and traffic systems are constantly changing, plus it might keep the crappier drivers off the road.

Hunting the wild black hare.
#15 by Bailey
2003-07-18 20:29:33
Hugin

What you say isn't unreasonable, but I find it difficult to wrap my brain around just taking away a license as adequate response to killing ten people, even accidentally.

What if it was your loveable-but-a-little-bit-lost old grampa? If he wasn't drunk, if he wasn't doped up beyond what his doctor proscribed, and he's a little bit dim, forget it. Take his license and stick him somewhere he won't have access to heavy machinery. There's no point in punishing someone for growing old in a sloppy society.

Scotch makes you good at a lot of things, like yelling at your wife, but itís terrible for hand-eye coordination.
#16 by Matt Perkins
2003-07-18 20:30:57
wizardque@yahoo.com http://whatwouldmattdo.com/
I agree with Bailey.  Again.  Damn me.

Vampire roleplayers are almost always weirder than D&D players...and that's saying something.
#17 by Hugin
2003-07-18 20:33:13
lmccain@nber.org
I'd be appalled that my loveable grandpa had killed 10 people, and I'd be trying to find out how the hell he still had his license, or looking to be held responsible myself if I had some control over that and didn't do something to get him off the roads.  Look, it's a regrettable situation, but lack of malice doesn't excuse everything.  10 people are dead.  What does the system do for them?  Maybe we nail his relatives.  Maybe we nail his doctor.  Maybe we nail the people at the DMV who renewed his license.  I dunno.  Someone is responsible for a dangerous, unfit driver being in a position to kill people.
#18 by Fugazi(werking)
2003-07-18 20:33:14
I think gladiatorial combat between elderly offenders would be both punishing and amusing.

!
#19 by Caryn
2003-07-18 20:35:27
carynlaw@pacbell.net http://www.hellchick.net
I was trying to formulate my thoughts on this and Hugin nailed it, so I agree with everything he wrote.

SNIKT!
#20 by Lurker
2003-07-18 20:35:45
#9 jjohnsen said:
My grandfather told us he had his wife whisper the little eye chart to him so he could pass, and the guy at the counter didn't even notice.


Funny, I took my grandfather to the DMV with his wife and after it was finished he told me the very samething. That didn't sit well with me, so I turned him into the DMV. With his wife out of the room he failed the test. I had to chauffeur him around often after that, but I thought it was worth it. I don't think I could have lived peacefully if he had injured himself or someone else. Something like this instills in me I did the correct thing. Even if it hurt my relationship alittle with my grandparents.
#21 by Desiato
2003-07-18 20:39:09
desiato_hotblack@hotmail.com http://www.spew2.com/
I'd sponsor a old-man-demolition-derby, with all participants invited to exit the arena via a common exit. But here's the catch - they have to do it in reverse, before the heavy iron portcullis gate crashes down on their Cadillac.

More reasonably, take the license away, feed his car to the biggest hydraulic press available, and chain the resulting cube to his new electric scooter. The droning scraping and clanking will let everyone know to get the hell out of the way.
#22 by Matt Perkins
2003-07-18 20:40:05
wizardque@yahoo.com http://whatwouldmattdo.com/
So because people died someone has to pay.  Even if no malice ever entered the picture, someone deserves to be punished.

That's pretty childish.  Do we go find some scientists to hang when an earthquake happens that no one predicted?

Vampire roleplayers are almost always weirder than D&D players...and that's saying something.
#23 by Hugin
2003-07-18 20:41:33
lmccain@nber.org
Am I supposed to take that completely non-equivalent analogy seriously?
#24 by Caryn
2003-07-18 20:43:23
carynlaw@pacbell.net http://www.hellchick.net
#22 Matt Perkins
So because people died someone has to pay.  Even if no malice ever entered the picture, someone deserves to be punished.

That's pretty childish.  Do we go find some scientists to hang when an earthquake happens that no one predicted?


It's not even remotely the same thing. Someone is indirectly at fault in this situation. If you've read any of the news articles on it, there have been highly visible pointers for the last ten years that this guy hasn't been fit to drive -- according to friends, he arrived at a party 10 years ago, when he was 76 years old, and accidently rammed his car up a 3 foot wall, taking out his hosts patio furniture. They laughed it up and filmed it, and then after this turned that tape into police to show what his driving history is like.

This man clearly wasn't fit to drive. Someone issued him a license when he clearly shouldn't have had one. Something had to be done about that.

SNIKT!
#25 by Matthew Gallant
2003-07-18 20:48:40
http://www.truemeaningoflife.com
#11 CheesyPoof
Take away his license, but that's it.

I have to disagree. That's insufficient to prevent him from getting into a car. Put him in a home, or jail. When you drive through a barrier and two blocks worth of a crowd, it's an "accident" only in a very loose sense of the word; there's a lot of negligence involved, about 10 dead people's worth. There has to be some sort of real punishment involved, regardless of intent. Otherwise, you've given the OK for old people and even non-old people to not consider their own abilities before they get behind the wheel.

"All I've ever wanted to be is a monkey of moderate intelligence that wears a suit. That's why I'm transferring to business school!"
#26 by TheTrunkDr.
2003-07-18 20:50:16
I'm going to agree with Matt, it's a regretable situation for sure but what's to gained by charging an old man with manslaughter? Obviously this guy shouldn't have been on the road, the system that renewed his license is to blame more than he is. Take his license, flag his DMV record so he can't ever get it back and maybe, at worst, charge him with wreckless driving or something along those lines.

I find being fairly ambivalent about the suffering of others makes me the greatest humanitarian of all.
  --Bailey
#27 by jjz
2003-07-18 20:51:53
It's all very self-correcting.  His insurance premiums will probably go through the roof after this!
#28 by Bailey
2003-07-18 20:55:04
If the old man didn't intentionally cheat on the DMV test, I see it as a failing of the aforementioned sloppy society and the government. If he intentionally cheated, fine, chalk him up and string him up if it'll make you feel better. It's too late for those 10 people, and this old geezer probably won't even be aware that he's in jail for the few remaining years he's alive. If he didn't cheat however, the blame clearly lies with the DMV.

Scotch makes you good at a lot of things, like yelling at your wife, but itís terrible for hand-eye coordination.
#29 by jjz
2003-07-18 20:56:53
Oh, http://www.latimes.com/news/custom/showcase/la-me-pedal18jul18.story is a good link about the phenomenon.
#30 by Caryn
2003-07-18 20:57:42
carynlaw@pacbell.net http://www.hellchick.net
#26 TheTrunkDr.
Take his license, flag his DMV record so he can't ever get it back and maybe, at worst, charge him with wreckless driving or something along those lines.


No. At worst, you overhaul the DMV and the system to make sure something like this never happens again. This guy shouldn't have had a license and been on the road, and he was. Now we need to do something about that.

SNIKT!
#31 by jjz
2003-07-18 21:03:43
Politically, overhauling the "system" to remove old people's driving privileges would seem like a suicidal thing, given they're the ones who vote.
#32 by Warren Marshall
2003-07-18 21:04:39
http://www.wantonhubris.com/
Politically, overhauling the "system" to remove old people's driving privileges would seem like a suicidal thing, given they're the ones who vote.

THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE!

#33 by TheTrunkDr.
2003-07-18 21:11:02
No. At worst, you overhaul the DMV and the system to make sure something like this never happens again. This guy shouldn't have had a license and been on the road, and he was. Now we need to do something about that.

I agree with this completely, there is obviously a failing in the DMV somewhere that allowed this man to keep his license, this needs to be corrected as I'm sure he's not the only one. That wasn't what I was talking about at all though. I was talking about what the worst case should be for the old man.

It's when it comes to the old man where things get sticky for me. The more I think about it the more conflicted I get. I don't believe this man intended to do what he did, he was licensed to drive (which was obviously wrong) but at the same time the man should have realized that he's not capable of driving, and shouldn't have gotten behind the wheel to begin with. Still I'm not sure what would be gained by tossing this guy in jail.

I find being fairly ambivalent about the suffering of others makes me the greatest humanitarian of all.
  --Bailey
#34 by Matthew Gallant
2003-07-18 21:12:01
http://www.truemeaningoflife.com
#28 Bailey
If the old man didn't intentionally cheat on the DMV test, I see it as a failing of the aforementioned sloppy society and the government.

How are you going to prove this one way or the other?

Look, if the guy was having problems distinguishing the thin long pedal from the fat wide one, the DMV ain't the most at fault. He should have had the self-awareness to know he shouldn't drive. If he really was just blissfully unaware of how dangerous he was, then he still is and he still needs to be put away somewhere.

"All I've ever wanted to be is a monkey of moderate intelligence that wears a suit. That's why I'm transferring to business school!"
#35 by TheTrunkDr.
2003-07-18 21:14:03
MattG, do you really think this 80 something old man who can hardly walk is really much of threat outside of his car?

I find being fairly ambivalent about the suffering of others makes me the greatest humanitarian of all.
  --Bailey
#36 by Matthew Gallant
2003-07-18 21:15:48
http://www.truemeaningoflife.com
#35 TheTrunkDr.
MattG, do you really think this 80 something old man who can hardly walk is really much of threat outside of his car?

Hell yes. Haven't you ever seen Mr. Magoo?

"All I've ever wanted to be is a monkey of moderate intelligence that wears a suit. That's why I'm transferring to business school!"
#37 by Your Friend
2003-07-18 21:20:11
I think the old man should absolutely be charged, but not simply because "someone has to pay".

He was negligent.  He had to have SOME idea that he wasn't fit to drive.  If you aren't fit to drive, you shouldn't get behind the wheel.  This holds for when you're drunk, when you're impaired via prescribed medication and yes, when you're just hella old.


It isn't like there was a mechanical car failure that was out of this guy's control.  He wasn't fit to drive, period.  I feel it is just as much his responsibility to be aware of this and stop driving as it is for a drunk person to be aware of the same.  The actual cause of the impairment is just a technicality.

"Take Two needs to STFU imo." - G30rg3 Br0uzz4rd
#38 by Your Friend
2003-07-18 21:21:46

I don't believe this man intended to do what he did, he was licensed to drive (which was obviously wrong) but at the same time the man should have realized that he's not capable of driving,


Drunk drivers also don't intend to kill people, but they do.


and shouldn't have gotten behind the wheel to begin with.


This is the key issue and why I think he should be charged just like drunk drivers should be.

"Take Two needs to STFU imo." - G30rg3 Br0uzz4rd
#39 by CheesyPoof
2003-07-18 21:22:03
Look, it's a regrettable situation, but lack of malice doesn't excuse everything.  10 people are dead.  What does the system do for them?  Maybe we nail his relatives.  Maybe we nail his doctor.  Maybe we nail the people at the DMV who renewed his license.  I dunno.  Someone is responsible for a dangerous, unfit driver being in a position to kill people.

Would it be fair to say that there is more than one single person at fault here?  Does anyone really need to be "nailed"?

I have to disagree. That's insufficient to prevent him from getting into a car. Put him in a home, or jail.

Pulling peoples license doesn't stop anyone from really driving since some people do it anway.  If they continue to drive I would see no problem with a criminal trial because they were clearly doing something they shouldn't.  There are already laws against that and those would kick in if it was the case, but it's not.

When you drive through a barrier and two blocks worth of a crowd, it's an "accident" only in a very loose sense of the word; there's a lot of negligence involved, about 10 dead people's worth.

Looking at the LA Times link put it in a new perspetive for me since I didn't figure blocks were that long.  I was thinking more of "Streets" as opposed to "Avenues."

There has to be some sort of real punishment involved, regardless of intent. Otherwise, you've given the OK for old people and even non-old people to not consider their own abilities before they get behind the wheel.

Allow me to be a jerk here for a second.  The state says, "You're OK to drive a car", and it turns out you aren't, the driver is to be blamed for not saying, "I'm sorry Mr. DMV, but I don't think I should be driving."?  I think the blame should at least be shared between the state and driver.
#40 by Caryn
2003-07-18 21:22:55
carynlaw@pacbell.net http://www.hellchick.net
#37 Your Friend
He was negligent.  He had to have SOME idea that he wasn't fit to drive.  If you aren't fit to drive, you shouldn't get behind the wheel.  This holds for when you're drunk, when you're impaired via prescribed medication and yes, when you're just hella old.


The problem is that he may not have been aware that he wasn't fit to drive. How many drunks think they're just fine and decide they can handle driving home? In this case, he didn't choose to become drunk and then make a poor decision; he was simply old and may not have been totally in control of his faculties. But that's a lot of speculation.

SNIKT!
#41 by jjz
2003-07-18 21:23:48
How do you test for people making mistakes?
#42 by Your Friend
2003-07-18 21:24:56
Also, I should note that if this guy had a SUDDEN, unexpected medical condition, I would feel differently.

If he all the sudden had a seizure and it was the first time and he took some people out because the seizure (obviously) fucked up his ability to drive I absolutely would not support brining charges against him in that case.

However, that isn't the situation here.

"Take Two needs to STFU imo." - G30rg3 Br0uzz4rd
#43 by CheesyPoof
2003-07-18 21:27:12
He was negligent.  He had to have SOME idea that he wasn't fit to drive.  If you aren't fit to drive, you shouldn't get behind the wheel.  This holds for when you're drunk, when you're impaired via prescribed medication and yes, when you're just hella old.

Everybody makes mistakes when driving, it's human nature.  Every so often a mistake results in an accident, wheather great or small.  Does someone need to be blamed?  Can't "shit happen" (not saying that this case is an example of that)?
#44 by CheesyPoof
2003-07-18 21:28:59
How do you test for people making mistakes?

I don't think you test for mistakes per say, but give people a rigorous driving test and see how many they do make.  I would also suggest that you do this in a real world environment and avoid the whole cones through a parking lot type deal too.
#45 by Your Friend
2003-07-18 21:29:00

The problem is that he may not have been aware that he wasn't fit to drive. How many drunks think they're just fine and decide they can handle driving home? In this case, he didn't choose to become drunk and then make a poor decision; he was simply old and may not have been totally in control of his faculties. But that's a lot of speculation.


I don't really care what the reason is for someone to not be in control of their faculties -- I don't care if it is from alcohol, being over-tired, or from off-the-shelf sinus medication.  I still absolutely believe they should be held responsible for making the decision to drive in the first place if they are in a state where they shouldn't be driving.

"Take Two needs to STFU imo." - G30rg3 Br0uzz4rd
#46 by Your Friend
2003-07-18 21:30:46

Everybody makes mistakes when driving, it's human nature.  Every so often a mistake results in an accident, wheather great or small.  Does someone need to be blamed?


I can't answer that unless you give a specific example of an accident.  In this particular case, yeah this old geezer needs to be blamed.

"Take Two needs to STFU imo." - G30rg3 Br0uzz4rd
#47 by Phayyde
2003-07-18 21:30:51
No I think it's an interface issue.  Those pedals are tucked away down there where you can even see them - not even color coded.  And they're RIGHT NEXT to each other.  No braille for your toes to feel the difference.  

Basically it's two identical buttons right next to each other, unlabeled, tucked away in a dark cubbyhole and you press them with your shoes.

Admittedly, it's an old interface wart that people have sort of learned to compensate for.  

But this was also a small preview of what could go wrong if you start dickering too much with standard PRNDL driving interfaces.  The pedal thing - I think it's like DOS in 1990, we'll be stuck with it for awhile.

Beat to fit, paint to match.
#48 by TheTrunkDr.
2003-07-18 21:32:49
I think Caryn's point was how do they know they're in a state where they shouldn't be driving. Especially when they have no reason (alcohol, medication, etc.) to think they're in an impaired state.

I find being fairly ambivalent about the suffering of others makes me the greatest humanitarian of all.
  --Bailey
#49 by Caryn
2003-07-18 21:34:05
carynlaw@pacbell.net http://www.hellchick.net
#45 Your Friend
I don't really care what the reason is for someone to not be in control of their faculties -- I don't care if it is from alcohol, being over-tired, or from off-the-shelf sinus medication.


And in all of those cases, the person has some sort of objective reference point to judge their own ability to drive against. But growing old isn't something he can control, and certainly over time he loses the ability to objectively determine his own ability to drive safely. I agree that there should have been someone to say, "you're not fit to drive", I just don't think the man himself might have been able to make that decision or can be faulted for not making it.

SNIKT!
#50 by Bailey
2003-07-18 21:34:22
MattG

How are you going to prove this one way or the other?

MIND RAPE.

No, wait, better answer: How are you going to disprove my findings?! Yeah, that's right. Not so sassy now, are you?

Scotch makes you good at a lot of things, like yelling at your wife, but itís terrible for hand-eye coordination.
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