Dillon Renard and his girlfriend tried to drive home from a night out with friends last June. They were both very drunk and made a decision that many couples in this situation have made before. They determined that Angelique Griffin was the “less drunk” of the two so she got behind the wheel. As many of us on the North Shore now know, Melissa and Dillon never made it home.
At around 3 AM. Angelique veered into the back of a flatbed truck parked on the side of the road and decapitated Dillon. She was sentenced Friday on a charge of motor vehicle homicide and will serve a year in jail, six months on house arrest, a year on probation and lost her drivers license for 15 years. Dillon’s family was outraged and felt she should have stood trial and received a much harsher sentence.
Dillon was only 19 and Angelique is 25 and the mother of 3 year old twins. Both had long futures in front of them. The events of June changed everything for these two young people, their families and their friends. Dillon is gone and his family’s grief is evident in their cries for justice.
Angelique must now live with the horror of that early morning crash, incarceration and a long relationship with the criminal justice system and the challenges of attempting to find jobs with a felony conviction and no driver’s license.
Griffin pleaded guilty to a charge of motor vehicle homicide while driving drunk and plea bargained a 2 1/2-year jail term. By making this arrangement she avoided what would have been a very painful public trial. She will be eligible for parole after one year. When she leaves prison she will be on probation for seven years, the first six months of that time on house arrest. During that time, she will be subject to random drug screens. She has also lost her driver’s license for 15 years.
What were their friends thinking when they allowed the two to try driving home? Were they also too drunk to make an informed decision? And why was so much alcohol consumed? Studies show that 80% of the alcohol is consumed in this country by 20% of the drinkers. Most of these drinkers are between the ages of 18 and 24. And 11% of the alcohol consumed is by people between the ages of 12-20, all illegal drinkers. Despite all of our efforts, drunk driving continues to ruin lives. In 2010 studies estimated that US adults got behind the wheel about 112 million times after drinking too much. Think about that the next time you are driving home on a Saturday night.
Many young people will tell you that they feel obligated to drink a lot and drink heavily when out with friends. Maybe it is time we re-examine these expectations.