A Bakersfield man who lost his wife to a teenage drunk driver, is fed up with websites exposing the locations of DUI checkpoints. Michael Benge says Thursday was a painful reminder of why he continues his fight against drunk driving.
It was a particularly tough day for Benge, searching for comfort in a place he thought he would never visit. "I stop here and talk to her fairly regularly. Today would have been her birthday," explained Benge.
Benge's wife Jada would have turned 41 on Thursday. Her life was cut tragically short by a teenage drunk driver who hit the Benge family head-on at 95 miles per hour, nearly eight years ago. "The girl who was driving, 17, had a .20 blood alcohol level so she was nearly three times the legal limit for an adult. It killed my wife almost instantly, watched her take her last breaths," explained Benge.
Police said the teen driver was already on probation for a DUI. "My little girls' screams. Just agony. It was awful," he remembered about that day.
Benge has made it his mission to stop this from happening to another family. He said websites that post DUI checkpoint locations make it more difficult.
23-year-old Sennett Devermont of San Diego owns www.mrcheckpoint.com. It is an online service that e-mails or text messages checkpoint locations. "I do not support drunk driving. I don't think anyone does. I use it as a way to deter people from drinking and driving," said Devermont.
Devermont says he started the website after he was handcuffed and detained when he refused to answer questions or take a field sobriety test at a DUI checkpoint. He said he was later released after passing a breath test.
"The courts have outlined specific parameters for the checkpoints and they have to be followed. More often than not, innocent people are lied to about their rights and end up wrongfully arrested," he continued.
Devermont says checkpoints unfairly harass innocent drivers.
"I hear people that say they are inconvenienced, I just don't want to have to go through one. Someone says I'm going to drive around it and they go hit someone else. Who's liable? The blood would be on Devermont's hands, symbolically," said Benge.
Benge wants to prevent another drunk driving death, after spending the last eight years raising three daughters on his own. He continues to tell his story so no one else will be left alone on a loved one's birthday.