Penny Hill did everything right.

She put her four-year-old son Malcolm in the back seat of her Mazda and strapped him in a seat belt after she picked him up from a day care center in suburban Washington. She had a green light when she turned left onto Nutley Street. Then an airbag popped up in her face and her son was dead. Just like that. She never saw what hit them.

What hit them was Robert Grinnan, driving a pick-up truck. Grinnan was drunk. He was also driving with a suspended license. He was not injured in the crash that killed Malcolm Hill.

Grinnan, 33, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, driving while intoxicated and driving with a suspended license.

INVOLUNTARY manslaughter? He CHOSE to get drunk, he CHOSE to get behind the wheel, he CHOSE to drive with a suspended license — and it’s involuntary when the inevitable happens and he kills someone?

If Grinnan can post $22,500 in bail he’s free to leave jail. We assume he’ll soon be behind a wheel again.

Penny Hill is, of course, just one of tens of thousands who lose family members to drunk drivers every year. And the drunks usually walk away unscathed.

Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn has compiled a list of recent drunken driving incidents. It goes something like this:

  • Drunk driver Michael Flores drives into the back of a van carrying a group home from a high school volleyball game. All six passengers in the van die. The passenger in Flores’ car dies. Flores is fine.
  • Ivan Morales is drunk and driving 94 mph in a 35 mph zone. The car he hits contains two girls, one 16, one 12. Both are killed. The passenger in Morales’ car is killed. Morales breaks his leg.
  • Elizabeth Diver is drunk when she takes her son to band practice. She kills the driver of the car she crashes into, as well as her own 12-year-old son. She suffers a broken arm.
  • Randy Breshan is drunk when he plows into a car carrying four members of a family, all of whom are wearing seat belts. All four family members die. Breshan, who was not wearing a seat belt, is treated for knee injuries.
  • Etc.

But the ultimate example occurred in May of 1988, when a drunk driver in Worthville, Kentucky drove the wrong way down an interstate and hit a school bus. 27 people died. The drunk driver survived.

Not only does the court system NOT keep drunk drivers off the road, but sometimes nature itself seems to conspire against justice. Drunk drivers hit their victims head-on, and thus get the full protection of safety equipment and the “cushion” of the front part of their vehicle. The victims are hit wherever the drunk happens to hit them. In the same way, a battering ram suffers less damage than the object it batters.

Being drunk also saves drivers from tensing their bodies at the time of impact. Studies have shown that in an accident it’s safer for the body to be limp than rigid.

These explanations are probably very little comfort to Penny Hill. All she can ask is, “If I did everything right, how come my child’s dead?”

(Source: Washington Post.)

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  1. My aunt was killed by a drunk driver,and I will never be able to forgive the man who killed her.In my personal opinion,drunk drivers should have to be the ones to tell the victim’s family that they will never see that person again.The drunk driver should have to watch what kind of grief the victim’s family has to endure for the rest of their lives.Drunk drivers should be considered murderers,because that is exactly what they are.They are the ones who chose to drink and drive,therefore;they are risking not only their lives,but the lives of everyone else around them.

    Time: 12/12/97 (23:7:9)

    I am against drunk driving as much as anyone. However, I feel the driver-drinker is not the only one to blaim and to have to pay. When the driver got behind the wheel drunk a probelm had existed far in advance. Probably this problem started when any of these people were about five years old.

    The average first grader has been exposed to alcohol as a positive, macho, sex, fun thing about 50,000 times before they get to school age. The government collects over 6 billion $ every year from the sale of alcohol. It spends nothing in advertising the stuff is adictive, dangerous etc. It spends nothing on prevention. It spends nothing in intervention. It spends nothing in treatment. It spends nothing in aid to victims.

    What does it do with the 6 Billion $? It goes into social security. The highway taxes pay for the BAT program. The alcohol industry is pumping adds like crazy into the air, paper, billboards, and promotions. There isn’t even a 1% match of counter advertising…

    You know why? Most of the legislators and government officials are either heavily lobbied by the alcohol industry or actually are owners in it. It is a multi 100 billion dollar business and no one wants to rock the boat. So they put up more punishment for those who get into trouble.

    It’s no skin off their teeth in how many loose lives, jobs, licenses, etc., because there are many more young’ins coming along. If there was anything else which killed so many people and wrecked so many lives it would be either seen as an enemy or an epidimic and cured.

    But even if polio could make such billions of dollars I am sure our leaders would saction it and approve it and keep it going and through any one who finally couldn’t walk anymore into jail.

    We are a government of the dollar, for the dollar, and by the dollar, plain and simple. Everything we do as a poeple is tied to the dollar, not to what is right or wrong or good or bad, only what is profitable and makes the rich richer and the opressed more subservient. Thank you.

    So the next time you see someone killed by a drunk driver look also at you government leaders and your alcohol distributors along with the driver and you’ll see the entire “team” of culpable persons.

    Time: 12/8/97 (22:52:47)

    in my opinion, a covicted drunk driver should be required to sit in a hospital emergency room and watch while doctors try their best to save the lives of people who have been injured by drunk drivers.

    maybe after sitting and watching someone die by the fault of a drunk driver, there would be fewer drunk drivers on our roads. the same should happen to hit-and-run drivers, a person who is suspected of hit-and-run (or convicted) should be made to sit with one victim of a hit-and-run driver, to go through what that family goes through while their loved one either lives or dies.

    my son was hit by a hit and run driver while he was riding his bike, my son didn’t live, the hit and run driver is hiding in mexico. the hit and run driver that hit my son had a prior conviction for drunk driving- unknown if he was drinking when he hit my son, i think he was since he didn’t stop, later burned his car in a cornfield to hide evidence and then split for mexico. drunks shouldn’t be allowed to own cars, much less drive cars.

    Time: 11/22/97 (13:46:53)

    I’m tired of drunk drivers who commit a second offense. My idea is to take away the convicted drunk driver’s car for a period of time. In addition, if he is then caught driving a borrowed, rented, leased, etc. auto— that is confiscated also.

    Make this law known to all– put the convicted’s name in the paper and computer files for car dealer’s, etc. and no one will sell or lend, etc. a drunk driver an auto. If he’s convicted a second time, he loses the auto he was driving ( whomevers it was doesn’t matter– except for stolen vehicles ) and the court sells the car using the profits for alcohol prevention programs, etc.

    A drunk can’t drive if he can’t get a car. Take away his license? PLEASE- HAVE YOU CHECKED THE NO. OF DRUNK DRIVERS DRIVING WITH SUSPENDED LICENSES? No!


    Time: 11/14/97 (16:21:19)

    The United States is not a democracy. It is owned and operated by Judges and Lawyers. If Representatives, Senators and Congressmen pass laws for the betterment of society, the Judges and Lawyers challange and change these laws for money.

    Our court judicial system is run by only those who have law degree’s. A teacher, Engineer, Doctor, Professor, Business Administrator, CPA, Registered Nurse, or anyone with a 4 year college degree, Masters Degree or Doctorate Degree cannot be a Judge unless they went to law school.

    Ever wonder why? Maybe we have some discrimination involved in the law. Try to fight it and see if you win!

    I’ll even take this case one step further. This same subject was probably arrested before for D.U.I. and only slapped on the hand. But as usual the court’s cannot control what someone does on the outside, only the person can.

    Gee society, if you slap me on the hand, I promise to be good and I’m really sorry and learned a lesson. But when I go out and do it again, it’s because of many excuses that we should all understand to be logical and reasonable.

    Time: 10/27/97 (14:14:15)

    I have a solution for the drunk driving problem: Every time a driver is arrested for being over the alcohol limit, the police department would confiscate the the automobile and auction it off. Thus the prohibitive cost of obtaining another vehicle would make it nearly impossible for the miscreant to continue driving.

    And it’s highly unlikely that anyone would be willing to lend a convicted drunk driver his or her car, knowing that it, too, would be confiscated permanently — regardless of ownership. And this draconian penalty woud commence with the first offense. No second chances would be granted, given the potentially lethal consequences.

    Needless to say, the motorists of this nation would give second, third and forth thoughts to drinking anywhere near the legal alcohol limit knowing that the financial penalties of a drunk driving conviction would virtually preclude them from ever driving

    Time: 10/25/97 (20:22:14)

    I was married to a drunk, I know only to well the problems of drunks…casualties are not only in cars..He finally bought a motorcycle with child support money I sent him, as my children lived with him I was uneducated and could not support them,. I finally got them back with he hit a tree with his motorcycle and the tree won. Ironically he was not drinking at the time!


    Time: 10/24/97 (9:28:0)

    Regarding Aerial’s comment below: Ahhh… another satisfied customer.

    Time: 10/23/97 (23:12:22)

    I think you write these columns, not for informative or educational value, but to draw freaks out of the woodwork, from under bushes, and where ever else they might hide during daylight hours! When I first began reading The Outrage several months ago I found enough about it to be worthwhile and substantial, but today I feel the National Enquirer is a more reputable and responsible piece of garbage than is the FreakFinder!

    Time: 10/23/97 (20:59:57)

    Judges who are lienient towards Drunk Drivers are no doubt, drunk drivers themselves. No matter what the crime they are soft on when offenders appear before them, somehow, someway, the Judge has either committed the offense, perhaps in college, or someone very close to them has, and this distorts their ability to protect innocent citizens from criminal offenders.

    Drunk Drivers who DO NOT even have an accident, need to be locked up for attempted Manslaughter/Murder, when it is known they were drunk while driving.

    When they in fact kill someone, they need to be Executed. Incompetent Judges, unfit need to be locked up with the criminals who committ the behaviour they use the bench to protect and encourage by their refusal to show compassion and mercy towards innocent citizen victims of real and true criminal and harmful crimes.

    Swift Justice or none. Right now, we have none.

    Time: 10/23/97 (20:4:40)

    Society has shown itself incapable of imprisoning, or for that matter denieing the right to drive, drunk drivers. It seems that this is a simple argument for the death penalty.

    Time: 10/23/97 (19:27:59)

    If a person were to run through the streets pointing a loaded gun at everyone he sees, he’d be arrested, tried for Assault with a Deadly Weapon, and probably be thrown in jail for a long time.

    That would be a good thing.

    If that same person were to drive through the streets drunk, threatening all in his path with 4,000 lbs of hurtling automobile, he would probably be arrested, tried, and might actually LOSE HIS LICENSE to drive (for a while).

    That person with the car can easily kill as many or more people than he could with his gun.

    Why don’t these two crimes carry similar punishments?

    Something’s screwed up with the justice system.

    Time: 10/23/97 (19:6:18)

    I personally believe that if a person gets behind the wheel drunk & kills somebody, they should be killed also. They should not be let out for good behavior or given a lighter sentence because who they killed is dead & will never come back because of that persons dumb choice. Dead is dead & in my book whoever “voluntarally” causes death by choice should be dead.

    Time: 10/23/97 (18:31:58)

    I knew, after reading this editorial, that it was only a matter of time before someone somehow held Bill Clinton responsible for the death of Malcolm Hill.

    Thanks, Sandman, for helping foster such a puerilism.

    Time: 10/23/97 (17:44:39)

    First of all, you can’t truly believe that drinking and driving should be lumped in with first degree murder. It just isn’t the same. The intent isn’t there.

    Secondly, you must have missed yesterday’s Ft. Lauderdale Sun Sentinel that reported on Matt Metzger, age 25. He’s about to be sentenced for 21 to 33 years for losing control of his car and killing his best friend, another woman, and inflicting her 2 year old son with burns over 30 percent of his body.

    His blood alcohol level was .089 at the time of the accident.

    Time: 10/23/97 (16:42:55)

    How is this the court’s fault? How, exactly, are they supposed to stop him from drinking and driving? He had a suspended license. As you so eloquently point out, he chose to drink and he chose to drive.

    The courts are not personal babysitters to hold your hand and tell you when to say when. Each has to be responsible for their own actions. The blame rests on the individual, not the courts.

    Time: 10/23/97 (16:33:51)

    These are the same courts who in a heartless decision let a known sexual rapist go free because the lady he raped was deaf and dumb therefore she could not say no!

    My prayers go out to Mrs. Hill and all the families who have to watch our Clinton run courts let there loved ones die without a kiss before they bend them over.

  2. Hey, all is not completely lost when it comes to drunks killing
    others. In the early 90’s, in southern KY, my cousin was driving
    with a .28 — that’s right, .28 — BAC (blood-alcohol content or something
    to that effect). He rear-ended a van, setting it on fire. A toddler
    burned to death trapped in the van as it’s mother held it’s hand
    till the end, unable to pull the child from the mess.

    Alas, all DUI charges against my cousin were dropped!!!! Don’t fret,
    though — he got the hook on a MURDER rap! Sounds fine by me.

    I discussed the incident in a college sociology class and told
    how happy I was that he will be locked away for at least 20 years
    for his crime. Did people nod their heads in agreement? Did
    they smile in approval? Did they make comments like “He got
    what he deserved?” HELL NO.

    They all jumped my case for being bitter and cold-hearted, especially
    towards a family member. Hey, just because he’s related to me
    doesn’t excuse it. I’ll never forget the quote from one lady in
    the class, “We ALL make mistakes.”

    Oh, so what he did was merely a mistake…

    A mistake that took the life of a toddler.
    A mistake that took the joy away from the kid’s family.
    A mistake that left the drunk’s own daughter without a dad.
    A mistake that was a result of his own selfish wants.
    A mistake that could have been prevented.

    I wonder if these same gutless whine-bags would call it a mistake
    if Charlton Heston got drunk at an NRA convention and started
    ramdomly firing bullets into a crowd… Not much difference between
    that and driving drunk.


    When are people going to learn that you cannot legislate human behavior out of existance. Drunk Driving accidents are at an all time low right now, and
    they are not going to vanish completely. It’s impossible.

    What does scare me are the morons who want to start confiscating cars…etc. How much freedom do you want to give away for the sake of safety anyway? The world, in it’s essence is a dangerous place to live.

    There is one disturbing fact about drunk driving BAC limits. In perfect laboratory conditions a only 5 out of 10 people with a BAC of .10 will be impaired enough to have slower reflexes. At the limit of .08 the number falls even further. This means many people aren’t “Impaired” when the accident occurs; they are merely driving like jerks. This is a fact. This information can be found in any reputable pharmacology book; not your local newspaper trash.

    The “There ought to be a law” crowd scares me more than a guy who has two beers with his lunch and drives home.

  3. I am always one for being reasonable, but in cases where you have accidents caused by drunk drivers, I am in favor of heafty prison terms folowed by short (say forever) periods where driving privledges are revoked. Also, not allowing the person found guilty to drink alcohol (again forever) would be justified.

    I just read ToddZilla’s post.
    What a whiney Liberal.

  4. Hey! I kinda agree with ToddZilla, I mean I don’t think it’s great that he’s against his cousin and all
    that but I do think that his cousin and many others have done something HORRIBLE!! That little kids life,
    that could have been our future Einstein! That was also the life of one child that will NEVER go to a game
    go to a game with dad, NEVER go to summer camp, NEVER check out how mean the dentist is,
    NEVER go to an amusement park, what I’m saying is that that poor kid just got robbed, robbed of his life and
    the pleasures and horrors of LIFE outside of a toddlers veiw! I am 11 years old and I hope that I will never
    undergo what that poor TODDLER had to go threw! I know others agree with me and I really hope that someday,
    somehow I’ll be able to do something to save as many as I can!!!

  5. A related outrage is that case law says a cop sitting outside a bar waiting to ID and arrest drunk drivers before they kill someone is guilty of “entrapment” which usually allows the bad guy to go free.

  6. Drunks should have their vehicles taken on the spot and also jailed on the spot as well. Too many are out driving drunk between sentences. Show them no mercey as a car becomes a killing machine when in the hands of these morons.

  7. I’m so tried of the cops abusing their rights. They go around acting as if they uphold the autority. When really are letting criminals lose and making deals witn these convicts. The whole system is corupt.

  8. I am 13, my dad died of drunk driving when I was 3. I am SO mad at him for leaving me! I still don’t have a dad. I’m the daughter with no dad.

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