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Opinion: Repeat offenders in Vermont avoid strict punishment

Last week, a drunk driver killed a beloved community member. Readers of this newspaper know that repeat violators rarely face the kind of strict punishment that would deter them from jumping behind the wheel when they are drunk and/or have no license. Your April 1, 2015, Superior Court Log included the following:
“Christopher S. Debaise, 50, of Starksboro pleaded guilty to a June 18, 2014, charge of driving under the influence, third or subsequent offense, and was sentenced to license revocation and one to three years in jail, all but seven days suspended, and was fined $207. …
“William A. Fox, 38, of Bomoseen pleaded guilty to a May 31, 2013, charge of driving with a suspended license, fourth or subsequent offense, and was sentenced to 30 days on work crew and was fined $141. …
“Michael William Lackard, 32, of Middlebury pleaded guilty to Oct. 11, 2014, charges of driving under the influence, second offense, and giving false information to an officer/implicating another, and was sentenced to six to 24 months, all but five days suspended, and was fined $1,144. The state’s attorney dismissed an Oct. 11, 2014, charge of driving with a suspended license, second offense, as part of a plea agreement. …
“Nathan Dearing, 27, of Middlebury pleaded guilty to Jan. 13 and Feb. 9 counts of driving with a suspended license, third offense, and was sentenced to 60 days on work crew and was fined $294.”
As these examples make all too clear, repeat offenders in Vermont do not face strict punishment.
Our Addison County elected officials are Claire Ayer (759-2748), Chris Bray (453-3444), Fred Baser, (453-4391), Alyson Eastman (989-1088), Willem Jewett (388-0320), Diane Lanpher (877-2230), Betty Nuovo (388-2024), Amy Sheldon (388-9278), David Sharpe (453-2754), Harvey Smith (877-2712), and Warren Van Wyck (877-2169).
We ask them: Which one of you will introduce and lead legislation that will change incentives for repeat offenders? When do you plan to do that? We hope that readers of this newspaper will call them to find out.
Jonathan Isham Jr.
Tracy Himmel Isham
Cornwall

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