We often use this blog to tell readers in Bryan and College Station about the harsh penalties associated with DUI convictions. It would be natural, then, to wonder why DUI penalties are so severe. The sad story of a Texas woman's death might help to explain that.

The woman was on her way home from celebrating her own 45th birthday recently when she stopped to help a stranded motorist who had a flat tire. After she had stopped her vehicle and put on her four-way flashers, she was struck from behind by a man whom authorities believe was drunk when the accident occurred.

The man hit the woman so hard her car "folded like an accordion" and killed her instantly. To make matters worse, the man who hit the woman lied to authorities on the scene and tried to blame it on a hit-and-run driver who never actually existed.

Now, everyone could probably agree that if this man was driving drunk when he hit this woman, he deserves to be punished. Because of his irresponsibility, a mother is no longer returning to her family each night. That is a big reason why DUIs are punished so severely.

That being said, not every DUI is nearly this serious, and we all make mistakes from time to time. It is good that people who hurt others or damage property get their just desserts, but it would not make sense to punish everyone in the same way. Defense attorneys who work with drivers who have been accused of DUI can work to make sure that if punishment is a just and fair response to what their clients have done, such a punishment at least fits the crime.

Source: The Montgomery County Police Reporter, "Good Samaritan Killed on Birthday," Scott Engle, Jan. 3, 2012