Is this the best we can do?

Fifteen-year sentence in drunk-driving death is paltry

Christopher Roberts may yet save himself while in prison. We pray he does.

But he’s already laid ruin to two other lives, and uncounted lives of those around them.

The 37-year-old Augusta man had already paralyzed another man in a drunk-driving accident in 1992. But that wasn’t enough damage for him. So, last June 4, at it again, Mr. Roberts drove drunk into a guardrail on Bobby Jones Expressway, killing passenger Whitney Revis, 20, of Clearwater, S.C.

It’s impossible to overstate the human wreckage this one man has left in his wake.

And why? Because he couldn’t stay off our streets while filling himself full of mind-altering, senses-inhibiting self-gratification.

In one self-absorbed act of drinking and driving, spread over multiple occurrences, he has simultaneously reached the pinnacles of both selfishness and negligence. His disregard for other human life is indescribable: once having recklessly paralyzed a man, to again get behind the wheel drunk, only to kill this time?

He was sentenced to the maximum this past week – but, grievously and shamefully, that “maximum” is but 15 years in prison.

Accidents happen. But the good folks at Merriam-Webster would likely just as soon burn their books as classify either of these atrocities as an accident. Drunk driving is never an accident.

Willingly, knowingly and purposefully polluting yourself to the point of lethal incompetence behind the wheel of several thousand pounds of careening metal is no accident. Particularly in this day and age, when American society has literally decades of utterly unavoidable drunk-driving warnings under its belt.

We know that cigarettes kill. We know that snakes bite. We know what happens when you jump out of a plane without a parachute. And we doggone know what happens when you liquor up and get behind the wheel. There are more water fountains on the sun than there are excuses for drunk driving.

Given all that, and given what has occurred in this case, you have to ask: 15 years? Is that the best we can do?

There ought to be a law. Maybe it should be called Whitney’s Law. And it ought to say that anyone egomaniacal enough to put his own fleeting pleasures above the safety and future life of anyone unlucky enough to encounter him on the roadways deserves zero sympathy and even less time among us.

At his sentencing, Roberts told Whitney’s family he was sorry.

Not as sorry as a society that allows menaces with multiple victims to get off so easily.

What have we been drinking?

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