Time for courts to impose rigorous system to ban repeat offense drivers

By Calvin Palmer

Depriving someone of their car is an egregious concept to Americans and roughly on a par with banning the sale of guns, although the right to drive a car is not written in the U.S. Constitution.

As a consequence, it appears that American drivers can rack up a catalog of driving offenses and yet still remain behind the wheel of a car.

This weekend a tragic accident occurred on the Buckman Bridge, south of downtown Jacksonville. A woman driving an SUV was allegedly shunted by another driver and she lost control of her vehicle. It turned over and then crashed through the barrier and plunged 70 feet feet into the waters of the St Johns River.

The body of 41-year-old Luma Kajy, a wife and mother of two young children, was recovered some five hours later.

The driver of the second vehicle involved in the incident, Sasha Nicole Pringle, left the scene. A quick-thinking witness followed her to an apartment complex where she was arrested.

Pringle, 31, has been charged with leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death and DUI manslaughter.

The real tragedy of this incident is that it may never have happened if a more rigorous system was in place to disqualify drivers who are an apparent menace on the roads.

Pringle had been involved in four accidents since November 2008. Saturday night’s accident was the second in which she was charged with leaving the scene.

On October 5 last year, Pringle was charged with leaving the scene of an accident as well as careless driving. She pleaded no contest and paid a fine.

On August 21 of the same year, she was charged with failure to yield to another vehicle. She pleaded no contest and adjudication was withheld.

On November 4, 2008, Pringle was tailgating and charged with causing an accident that injured the other driver and caused $11,000 damage. She pleaded guilty to careless driving and paid fees and court costs.

My British and European readers will be surprised, not to say shocked, that Pringle still held a driving license after these three incidents. In Britain, she would have been banned from driving for at least six months, if not longer.

Florida State Attorney Angela Corey said that despite Pringle’s appalling driving record, she did not face any criminal charges until the October 5 crash. The other incidents were civil charges.

That will be of great comfort to the husband of Luma Kajy.

Corey said that unless there had been a statutory trigger for revocation or suspension of Pringle’s license, such as exceeding the maximum points or a DUI offense, a prosecutor could not ask for such an action in sentencing.

With a seemingly self-centered and self-obsessed woman like Pringle, I doubt a driving ban would have made any difference. She would have still been behind the wheel of her car on Saturday night.

Her sister-in-law, Amber Rodriguez, describes Pringle as a young artist who could never get the support she needed to succeed.

Yeah right! Could it just be that Pringle was not good enough but her “it’s all about me” attitude refused to accept that reality?

Well, Pringle has at last met with some success, indeed notoriety.

She has succeeded in destroying the life of another human being, bringing untold grief to a husband and depriving two children of their mother.

She has also succeeded in wrecking her own life. It will probably be a good few years before she is back in society and able to get behind the wheel of a car.

That will be the hope of most people who drive a vehicle in Jacksonville and it is up to the courts to make it happen.

[Based on a report by The Florida Times-Union.]

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