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Do Drunk Drivers Get Second Chances? | News

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Do Drunk Drivers Get Second Chances?

ROCKVILLE, Md. (WUSA) -- As many as 13,000 people are killed every year-the result of drunk drivers getting behind the wheel. That's according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

But how many of these drivers have been given second, third and fourth chances, some without ever having their licenses suspended or revoked?

In April of 2008, a 9News photographer called police when he witnessed an erratic driver headed north on I-270. Police said he had already hit two guard rails and was still driving.

We showed the videotape to Caroline Cash, Executive Director of MADD in Maryland.

"On a busy highway, it's just a miracle that no one was hurt or killed in that. He clearly had no ability to drive safely,' she said.

Joseph Kevin McLaughlin of Potomac was pulled over near Falls Road. He later pleaded guilty to driving or attempting to drive while impaired by alcohol. The disposition of that case: probation before judgment.

Said Cash, "Let someone sober up in jail. They can attend meetings while in jail. At some point, there has to be a sanction that makes it clear this is not acceptable behavior. Period."

Three years later, we wondered what had happened to McLaughlin. He is, after all, a PhD, a world-renowned scientist and the founder of the International Epidemiology Foundation in Rockville. According to his online bio, he is also a professor at Vanderbilt University's School of Medicine.

This is what our records search turned up. In October of 2009, McLaughlin was charged again, this time with seven counts of negligent and reckless driving, as well as driving while under the influence. In February of 2010, records show, it was determined his case would not be prosecuted.

Just four months later, in June of 2010, McLaughlin was pulled over in Montgomery County again. He was charged with four offenses, including driving while impaired by alcohol. That case is scheduled to go to trial in August.

In Maryland alone, the number of residents with three or more DUI convictions is 25, 120. The number of Maryland residents with five or more DUI convictions is 3,980.

Wondered Cash, "How many times does somebody get a bite of the apple? How many times do we risk them killing or seriously injuring another person?"

Maryland MVA records show McLaughlin has never had his license suspended or revoked.

We asked McLaughlin and his lawyer for on-camera interviews, which they declined. Attorney Reginald Bours said, "No one charged with a crime should be intimidated into comment before trial."

Written by Andrea McCarren





















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