BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Eighteen years ago her stepson was killed in a wreck caused by a drunken driver with three previous DUI convictions. Today Carla Pearson is her 17th year of association with Mothers Against Drunk Driving and she has a message for anyone who would behave irresponsibly this Labor Day weekend.
Adam Pierce was 23 when he was killed in a crash caused by a man who’d been taught the same harsh lesson about drinking and driving three previous times. This time it cost that driver, Michael Maurice Ingram, then 28, a prison sentence for second degree murder. It cost Adam Pierce’s family far more dearly than that.
“I’s really hard to explain the feelings that go through your mind when the two commissioners say that he’s — they feel that he’s ready to come out into society,” said Pearson, Kern County’s lead advocate for Mothers Against Drunk Driving. “You know, you hope he is. You hope he’s ready.”
Ingram served 16 years of his 15-years-to-life sentence and was freed in June, paroled to San Luis Obispo County — wine country.
But 2020 is actually a down year for DUI arrests. Just not for the reasons we might hope. There has not been a sudden surge of responsibility. It’s likely those bar closures and stay-at-home orders.
Joseph Marcano, who supervises the Office of Traffic Safety for the Kern County District Attorney’s office, says DUIs have dropped since last year — 201 felony cases in the first half of 2019 and 2044 total for that six month period. This year — 141 felony cases through June 30 and 1639 overall thus far. That’s a 20 percent decrease.
But now it’s a three-day weekend. The last gasp of a summer many might feel didn’t deliver like summers should, owing to this pandemic. A weekend likely to see — if history is our guide — instances of drunken driving on our streets. Drinking is more likely than usual to take place in parks and backyard barbecues where there’s no bartender to cut people off.
“People are definitely going to be overserved while they’re at home,” said Marcano, “because they feel like they don’t need to drive anywhere — until they get hungry or have to get more liquor.”
Pearson’s warning: “This is the most dangerous weekend that we have coming up. (I would ask) for them to be careful and think about their family members and what would their family members do without them.”
Pearson says viewers can do three things for Mothers Against Drunk Driving and for themselves.
One, be responsible and don’t drive drunk.
Two, be alert while you’re you’re behind the wheel. You don’t know what other drivers may have been up to.
And three, participate in the Walk Like Madd and Madd Dash virtual walk-and-run fundraiser coming up Oct. 10. The local goal is $55,000. For details go to walklikemadd.Org.
The takeaway, courtesy of Carla Pearson — enjoy a well deserved Labor Day weekend. But don’t break the hearts of another family.