Undated -- In the past five years, at least 15 people in the Triad area have lost their lives in drunk driving crashes. It's a topic we've been digging on for six months now. The deeper we dig, the more we're convinced something is very wrong with the criminal justice system. We think we've found a loophole that needs to be fixed before someone else gets killed.
It's related to the most outrageous record of drunk driving we've ever witnessed -- the case of Lance Snyder. First brought to our attention by the Winston-Salem Journal, Snyder's record can be considered outrageous. In 1982 he was convicted of three counts of second-degree murder after killing a grandmother, grandfather, and their eight-month old granddaughter in a crash. Snyder was driving drunk. After an appeal, a judge sentenced him to 14 years in prison. He made parole after only two and a half years, in 1988. After being released, he was re-arrested on DWI charges eight more times, all connected to drunk driving.
Here's the bigger problem, his most recent arrests came in 2011 and 2012, just after he was released for serving 17 years in prison. Those charges are still pending in court, but they're misdemeanors! Under the sentencing guidelines, an offender's prior record is considered ONLY is it happened seven to ten years prior to the most recent offense. So in this case, a judge is not allowed to consider Snyder's full history because they all happened before the seven to 10 years time -- because Snyder was in prison for those years!
So we started asking: is there a fix? Can something be done to solve the problem? We started making phone calls to local members of the State Assembly - in both the House and Senate. We asked if they'd be willing to come on the newscast, and if they'd be willing to take steps toward doing something.
Representative Alma Adams is resting a broken ankle and couldn't come on our newscast, but on the phone, she called the loophole "absolutely ridiculous". She went on to say "That probably should have never existed. That particular loophole needs to be closed." She also said, "I would certainly be willing to initiate the process."
(D) Representative Marcus Brandon and (R) Representative Pat Hurley joined Frank Mickens on the newscast and talked about what they think can be done to close the loophole, and what they will do to help solve the problem. To hear their responses, click play in the video window.
If you have suggestions for solving the problem, let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or sharing your thoughts on our Facebook page.
WFMY News 2