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MADD 'Disappointed' by High Profile DUI Arrests

By: Bonney Bowman Email
By: Bonney Bowman Email

In the last week, two high-profile Nebraska leaders have been arrested for driving drunk: State Senator Scott Laughtenbaugh and Grand Island Mayor Jay Vavricek.

Senator Laughtenbaugh was arrested Wednesday morning with a blood alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit.

Mayor Vavricek was arrested Sunday.

But drunk driving is a potentially deadly crime, and that raises the question: Should public officials be held to a higher standard?

Local Mothers Against Drunk Driving representatives say it's disappointing when community leaders choose to break the law, but they say it doesn't matter if someone is a community leader because everyone should be held to the same high standard when it comes to drinking and driving.

In 2012, 90 people in Nebraska were killed by drunk drivers.

MADD says if there is a silver lining to all this, it's that high profile cases bring attention to the issue and open the doors for discussion.

Project Specialist Andrea Frazier says, "We need to keep educating people. Drunk driving is a 100% preventable crime and so we need to keep talking about it, keep educating and keep encouraging people that if they're going to drink, plan ahead. Designate a sober driver."

But it turns out, even those charged with catching drunk drivers don't face a stiff penalty if they're caught driving drunk.

Public Safety Director Tom Casady says if an officer has accrued enough paid leave to cover the 90 day driver's license suspension, they can keep their job.

He says during his time, two police officers and three fire fighters were busted for DUI.

All but one kept their jobs.

Casady says the majority of people arrested for DUI are alcoholics and he'd rather see someone get the treatment they need than be forced out of their job.

Casady says, "We can get them into treatment. It's not a repeated offense and they have enough leave time to sustain them through the period of time their drivers license is suspended, I think that's a fair way of dealing with the situation."

But he says officers and fire fighters do face disciplinary action for breaking the law.


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