A few weeks ago, a 20 year old Hopkins student was killed in a hit-and-run car accident by a drunk driver. The alleged driver of the vehicle was Thomas Meighan Jr, a Maryland resident who, as the Baltimore sun reported, had been convicted at least nine times of drunken driving.
Unfortunately for Miriam Frankl, the student, the Maryland judicial system allowed Meighan to continue driving, off and on, over the course of 15 years when he was repeatedly caught driving drunk. It’s actually a wonder that Meighan didn’t kill someone earlier (as far as we know). Though Meighan did serve 18 months jail time at one point, according to the Sun, he “regained his driver’s license repeatedly.”
A quick review of Maryland’s drunk driving laws reveals that a three time DUI offender is subject to a minimum license suspension of 18 months. Really? A year and a half? I’m all for second chances in the judicial system, but anyone who has three DUI convictions has already received multiple chances. Does our judicial system really believe that after a year and a half without driving, a three time DUI offender won’t going to go for round four? Thomas Meighan Jr. certainly did–and then some–and it wound up costing the life of an innocent person with huge amounts of potential (she was a neuroscience major).
At what point were Maryland authorities going to decide that Meighan simply was not fit for driving and take away his license permanently? Yes, Baltimore’s public transportation sucks (as we have noted on this site) but having to ride the MTA after nine drunk driving convictions still seems like a pretty mild punishment. The judicial system has little problem sending down life sentences to (mostly poor black) minors and first time offenders, yet the same system was unable or unwilling to permanently take someone like Thomas Meighan Jr. out of the drivers seat before it was too late.
We can all safely assume that Meighan will never drive a car again, but Maryland needs to amend its drunk driving laws so that repeat offenders are taken off the road before they kill someone, not after.