California DUI Driver Accused of the Ultimate Crime

California DUI murder sentencingWhen a drunk person gets behind the wheel of a car, what is his or her intention? Probably, it’s just to get home, or get to another bar. It’s almost never to harm anyone.

It probably wasn’t Rien Ban’s intention back in June of 2014 either, when he slammed his Mercedes into a Kia sedan, killing four people.

Yet according to news reports the judge who sentenced Ban called him a murderer.  Ban was found guilty of second-degree murder and given a term of 60 years to life. Many people have had shorter sentences for premeditated murder in this country.

The case raises questions of what kind of a crime drunk driving is. By the time a drunk driver is on the road, he or she is unable to control the vehicle, use judgment, or react properly to circumstances. But we don’t regard that as an excuse.

The crime was to get into the car in the first place. The decision to drink and drive was the crucial one that led directly to the four deaths.

It’s hard to imagine how such a crime could be aggravated further, but news reports also mentioned the defendant’s refusal to obtain alcohol counseling and repeated violation of court-ordered rehab programs.

One of the reasons California has passed a new ignition interlock law is so that stubborn repeat DUI offenders can be ordered to install the device, which prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking. It’s hard to say whether the law would have made a difference here, but if an ignition interlock had been present, drunk driving would have been an impossibility for Ban.

The law takes effect in 2019. With luck, it will reduce the number of tragedies that occur on California’s roads due to drunk driving. We can’t always keep people from making that criminal decision, but perhaps we can take away the weapon.