10th DUI Conviction

A Texas judge has just ordered a particularly harsh sentence, even for a habitual drunk driving offender -- life in prison. The sentence was handed down to a man after his ninth DUI conviction.

Latest Arrest Came After Collision with Teen

The latest DUI arrest occurred last year when the man hit a vehicle driven by a 16-year-old boy, who wasn't injured in the crash. He was arrested after reportedly running into a convenience store and asking an employee to help him evade authorities. When he was apprehended, his blood-alcohol level was 0.184. Although he received a life sentence, the 56-year-old man will be eligible for parole in 30 years.

Prior to that incident, his last DUI conviction had been in 2008. That involved another collision, in which he rear-ended a vehicle. Several people in the car he hit reportedly had minor injuries. He served four years of a 13-year sentence for that crime.

What's the Best Solution for Habitual Drunk Drivers?

Is this the best solution for a habitual drunk driver? Certainly, as one official with Mothers Against Drunk Driving notes, license suspension may not work because people can continue to drive whether they have a valid license or not.

It wasn't reported whether this man was ever ordered to use an ignition interlock device. IIDs, which are required in 27 states for people convicted of DUIs, require that drivers breathe into them to show that they have no alcohol on their breath before they can start the vehicle. MADD has been focused on getting those devices ordered for drunk drivers. As the MADD official said, "We believe in going after DUI the first time, not waiting for the second or third or fourth offense."

Although DUI penalties vary significantly by state, and even within states, the penalties generally become harsher with each subsequent DUI after the first. Multiple DUIs may indicate that someone has a substance abuse issue that's more effectively handled by methods besides putting them in jail. Further, if taking away someone's license hasn't stopped him or her from driving while drunk, an IID can indeed be effective. While the justice system's job is to keep dangerous drivers off the road, jail time may not be the best solution for anyone. Attorneys who handle drunk driving cases can work to make that case for their clients.