DUI cheetham and Howe

It’s time to toughen Vermont’s DUI laws.Last November 17, 2007, I lost my nephew, Nick Fournier, of Swanton, when he was killed by a man with multiple Driving License Suspended and DUI convictions.This man was driving drunk and going the wrong way on I-89 in Winooski.Nick was a loving family member, a mature and responsible young adult, a truly “good kid” and athlete full of promise and life.I was shocked to learn that Vermont is one of the few states that allow individuals to own a vehicle without a valid operator’s license.I was horrified to hear that one doesn’t need to show proof of insurance to register a vehicle, and also that there is no mandatory minimum jail sentence for a DUI resulting in death.Perhaps the passage of a bill correcting these problems would not have saved Nick, but it might save the lives of some other Vermont citizens who are annually killed by drunk drivers.There were 27 deaths in Vermont caused by DUI in 2002, the most recent year of documented statistics. DUI deaths resulting are on the rise in Vermont as well as across the nation.No other Vermont family should lose one of their own beloved members in a tragedy that could possibly be prevented with stronger law enforcement.I have become aware that the dangers of drunk driving are pervasive all over Vermont. In the last three days I have read about two accidents in the Rutland area cause by driving under the influence.In talking with friends all over Vermont, they have told me of how they and their families have been personally impacted by someone’s DUI. There is an opportunity for Vermont citizens to make a difference and prevent further tragedy.Representative Kathy Lavoie of Swanton and 40 other Vermont legislators have sponsored House Bill H-824/Nick’s Law, which will correct these and other problems with Vermont DUI laws.In an effort to bring a new focus to strengthening the state’s DUI laws, Franklin County has declared March 25, “Nick’s Day” in the Vermont legislature. Our family, Nick’s friends and neighbors want to make sure that his memory, and the memories of all DUI victims, is bigger than life in the Statehouse. The Vermont Legislature needs to have the fortitude to say, “No more,” because the people of Vermont deserve no more deaths at the hands of drunk drivers.I encourage you as a Vermonter and family member to get involved in moving H-824/Nick’s Law forward by contacting your Vermont legislator in anticipation of, March 25.Please write, email or phone your area legislators immediately to tell them of your personal stories of DUI and urge them to toughen Vermont’s DUI laws NOW.Let him or her know that DUI is a matter of concern for all Vermonters.Drunk driving not only results in death but also causes serious injuries and lifelong burdens. If you are a family member, friend or community member who has suffered as a result of DUI, please consider joining Nick’s family and friends in Montpelier this Tuesday.For more information on “Nick’s Day,” please contact Representative Kathy Lavoie at 802-782-1924 or [email protected] H- 824/Nick’s Law or any version of it would stop further harm to Vermont citizens.Let’s get started by addressing DUI NOW to improve what we have and make Vermont’s DUI law federally compliant and on par with other states. Let’s put some teeth into Vermont’s DUI laws THIS LEGISLATIVE SESSION and make Vermont a safer place for all families.Respectfully,Lou Ann Fournier HaleRutland, VT