Deaths call for DUI law action



 On the evening of July 8, 2013, Maegan Spindler, 25, and her co-worker Dr. Robert Klumb were returning to their motel in Pickstown when they were struck and killed by accused drunk driver, Ronald Fischer. 

R o n a l d F i s che r ’s blood alcohol content was 0.232, n e a r l y three times the South Dakota legal limit for driving, which is 0.08. Fischer was charged with two counts of vehicular homicide, both carrying a maximum of 15 years in prison, a $30,000 fine or both and two counts of manslaughter in the first degree, both of which carries a maximum life sentence, a $50,000 fine or both. He was also charged with first-offense drunken driving, which is a misdemeanor in the state of South Dakota and carries a maximum of one year in jail and a $2,000 fine. 

The National Transportation Safety Board states, “Alcohol impaired driving in the United States takes 10,000 lives every year, and injures 173,000. Americans believe impaired driving is dangerous, yet there are still 300,000 alcohol-impaired trips everyday.” 

“After my daughters death we looked into the DUI laws of South Dakota,” said Gregg Spindler, father of Meagan Spindler, “South Dakota can be a leader … The United States needs to change its attitude towards drunk driving.” 

Gregg and Susan Spindler have dedicated their time and energy to researching the DUI laws in not only South Dakota, but the laws of other countries as well. 

“Some areas in Europe have cut their numbers of fatalities from drunk driving in half just by simply making harsher consequences,” Spindler said. “I’m not saying the U.S. should ban alcohol, I’m saying if the consequences were higher, maybe less people would get behind the wheel while under the influence.” 

In South Dakota, first-time offenders will get their license revoked anywhere from 30 days to one year. The DMV states “ 

In some cases you may be allowed to drive to and from work, or to an approved alcohol counseling program.” 

Second-time offenders will get their license revoked for at least a year, and may be allowed to drive to work. 

According to the international DUI database, “Drink, Drive, Lose” the legal limit for BAC in France is 0.05 and the law for first time offenders states their car is to be confiscated, their license revoked for three years, carries a possibility of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. They also have scanners set up on busy streets and freeways to try to monitor the roads and have an extra eye for drunk drivers. 

With these consequences the death rates due to drunk driving have significantly decreased almost 32 percent.