What's a Suitable Punishment for a 7-Time DUI Offender?

My original title for this post was to have been "Robert Kent Van Dyke Should Get 30 Years in Prison". But with our current penal system--which allows most convicts to do nothing more than marinate in their own juices for the duration of their sentences--that's perhaps too convenient a solution. What should Van Dyke's punishment be for a seventh DUI conviction? And what kind of society would allow such a thing to happen in the first place?

I was incensed when I read a couple of days ago that Robert Van Dyke's attorney was asking the judge to overturn the jury verdict finding Van Dyke guilty of a seventh DUI conviction, especially after he served 5 years for a prior automobile

There is nothing that enrages me more than to see how lenient courts seem to be with drunk drivers, except for stupid lawyers who seem to have nothing better to do than wasting more of your tax dollars by dragging court cases into eternity.

homicide conviction--probably while under the influence of alcohol.

Are attorneys supposed to be that stupid, or are they just supposed to represent their clients in any way their clients ask them to? Or is such a request normal?

In my opinion, the jury was correct in convicting Van Dyke, despite the silly claim by his attorney that swerving in traffic and being clearly intoxicated while driving a motor vehicle "are not illegal".

There is nothing that has enraged me more over the years as to see how lenient courts seem to have been with drunk drivers, except for stupid lawyers who seem to have nothing better to do than wasting more of your tax dollars by dragging court cases into eternity.

But the point now is: what should Van Dyke's sentence be? Is it okay to just throw him in prison and let him waste away for thirty years? Or is that not enough?


  1. Anyone who shows this level of inability to safely operate a motor vehicle should not be allowed to participate in society any more as they pose a real and serious danger to the public as a whole. I'm sure by this point he's gone through court-ordered rehab and it's apparently not working. Toss him in the slammer and forget where you put the key.

  2. I agree that DUI punishments are too lenient. Licenses should be permanently revoked after only 2-3 offenses. Of course, this probably wouldn't stop them from driving.

  3. What about using him as a human soccer ball at area MADD functions?

    Seriously. Since we can't give him 30 years of making small rocks from big rocks, maybe beating the hell out of him for a season or two might get the point across.

  4. When I punish my kids, I do it for the purpose of teaching them the right thing to do. If punishing them helps, I continue the method. If it doesn't, I find a new one. Yeah, punishment in Utah, and most other places nationwide, for DUIs are way too lenient. But, by the time someone's had 7 offenses, you have to figure there's something more wrong with them, and throwing them in jail isn't going to fix that. Not that I have a perfect solution, but this guy needs some serious mental health treatment.

    And to have his driver's license taken away for the rest of his life.

  5. Frank,

    As a radical divergance from your own thoughts on DUI (as expressed in this post), I'm curious what your response might be to this article regarding legalizing drunk driving?

    This raises a question we've seen in the FLDS issue: is it morally acceptable for the government to punish somebody for future, potential actions? In the case of the FLDS it was sexual abuse, whereas with drunk drivers, it is the assumption that if left unpunished, they *might* hit somebody.


  6. Connor: While I can appreciate the logic behind it, it doesn't pass the test of extremities. It is legal for me to own a gun. It is legal for me to shoot a gun. It is not legal for me to run down the street shooting wildly even if I don't damage any property or cause any injury. Why is this? The positive correlation between the action and a negative consequence is strong enough to warrant what some might classify as prior restraint. I don't see driving drunk any differently.

  7. Jesse,

    In the example you provided, you referenced specific actions (instead of a state of being or thoughts). Granted, the actions you suggested did not immediately harm anybody, but they were actions nonetheless.

    In the case of DUIs in general, however, one can be prosecuted (as Lew notes) merely because of the consumption of a few alcoholic drinks. While the reckless driver can (and should, I believe) be punished, somebody who is drunk and driving should not, I believe, necessarily proseucted for their supposed crime.

  8. The action is driving while intoxicated. It is an inherently dangerous action which has a history of terrible consequences.

  9. Misty,

    I agree that his license should be revoked. Perhaps we should also, similar to the new no-insurance law in Utah, impound the vehicle. If the vehicle actually belonged to someone else, perhaps a charge of theft could be added to get it out of impound.


    I skimmed through Lew Rockwell's article. I agree with some of the nuances that he brings up (particularly I don't like police checkpoints, and I think they're valid only in very extreme situations).

    Otherwise, I tend to agree with several other comments that (in my words) a drunk driver is a huge accident waiting to happen, and drunk people should be taken off the roads because of the inherent danger.

  10. No offense, but how can anyone here call themselves libertarian? 30 years for victimless crime? No proof of intoxication, just an assumption based on how he was driving? Also accusing him of being drunk during his prior vehicular homicide with no evidence? This is wrong. yes, the man seems to have serious problems. He may even be a risk to society. but i reject the idea that the government can lock someone up for being a 'risk'. This guy should receive a reckless driving ticket and be set free.
    I am positive that his driving privileges have already been revoked. That is enough.

  11. Kip: I don't entirely buy the whole "victimless crime" line. Saying "no harm, no foul" gives free license to do all kinds of dangerous things, including the reckless driving you mention, without fear of any real repercussions as long as you're lucky enough to not hurt someone or damage property. I simply don't buy that brand of libertarian extremism.

  12. The problem with suspending licenses and revoking plates etc is that the repeat offender is always going to find someone who will loan him a car. The fact that (after multiple arrests) the person knowingly drives to go drinking somewhere shows a blatant disregard for that law that tells you not having a car or a license will in no way prevent this person from driving.

    There are times when, for the good of society, people must be removed from said society. We had a situation in Minnesota (where I used to live) where a "gentleman" killed someone while DUI and he went to jail for 7 years. He wasn't out 6 months when he was arrested again TWICE for DUI.



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