A Texas judge sentenced a habitual drunk driver to life in prison after his ninth drunk driving conviction. In Kansas, the max sentence for a first time DUI is 6 months. The max sentence for any DUI after that is 1 year. Even the most lenient judges in Kansas would sentence a person convicted of his 9th DUI to the max, but that is 1 year. However, many DUI's are accompanied with other charges, such as DWS, TOC, and etc. On a 9th conviction, the judge would likely run them all at the max and as consecutive. But life in prison? Wow.
Fifty-four year old, Bobby Stovall, 54, was the man sentenced to life in prison. He had weaved through several lanes of traffic and hit another vehicle, injuring the other driver. Stovall's blood alcohol concentration of .32, was four times the legal limit.
"This is someone who very deliberately has refused to make changes and continued to get drunk and get in a car and before he kills someone we decided to put him away," said Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley. Bradley said that in addition to the multiple DWI convictions , Stovall also had a extensive rap sheet for other crimes, including burglary, credit card abuse and supplying alcohol to a minor. "He basically walked through the penal code for the past twenty years without any regard for safety or society," said Bradley. "In every single one of his cases he had an opportunity to change."
Some people believe that Stovall's sentence was too harsh and that the court should have considered his struggle with alcoholism. "This guy has a disease, he is an alcoholic and this isn't the kind of situation where he's acting with malice to hurt people," said Lawrence Taylor, a Drunk Driving lawyer and author of "Drunk Driving Defense." "He has a serious problem and I hope the days are past where we think alcoholism is something you choose," said Taylor. Taylor said that he does not agree with the judge's sentencing of Stovall and would have preferred more "rehabilitation" than "ending his life."
In contrast, Bradley said that it's better to lock up a man like Stovall, to prevent him from hurting someone else in the future. "I think that the ninth time you get caught and punished for [drunken driving] you would have found some way of not getting in that car," said Bradley. "It's a big dodge to focus on the disease and not the crime," said Bradley. "It's a huge social excuse for dangerous conduct."
Williamson County has a reputation for harsh sentences repeat offenders. "The point is to prevent crimes," said Bradley, who added that the county boasts one of the lowest crime rates compared to other Texas counties of similar size.
Stovall may be eligible for parole in five years, but depending on potential good time in prison, that could end up being as long as 10 to 15 years.