Keller @ Large: Drunk Driving An Unforgivable Crime

BOSTON (CBS) – Finally, the weather has turned nice, and in a region that doesn’t get enough of it, we like to put warm nights to good use by getting out and enjoying ourselves.

I suspect there may be a few house parties built around the Bruins game Saturday night, and the town is crawling with fresh graduates celebrating their achievement.


It’s all good, except when it isn’t.

Summertime is sweet, but it sours fast when people drink and drive, as all too many of us continue to do.

Like the 18-year-old kid who was driving drunk at almost 100 miles-an-hour on Route 25 in July of 2003 when he crashed into the cruiser occupied by State Police Trooper Ellen Engelhardt.

Trooper Englehardt was a Dorchester girl, St. Gregory’s parish, with diplomas from Bishop Feehan in Attleboro, Stonehill and Anna Marie College.

A beloved sister, mother and friend as well as a respected state trooper, she lived eight years with severe brain injuries before passing away this week at age 58.

She was one of our state’s first female troopers. She was also the first female state trooper to die of injuries sustained while on duty.

But frankly, at the rate we’re going, she won’t be the last.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

In the last year-and-a-half state police cars have been hit by alleged drunk drivers 23 times.

Any level of impaired driving is unacceptably dangerous, but imagine how bombed you have to be to plough recklessly into a marked police car.

It’s an unbearable tragedy when anyone gets hurt or killed by the utter irresponsibility of drunk driving, and the damage extends far beyond the victim, as those who loved Ellen Engelhardt can tell you.

Suffice to say that it’s among the most unforgivable crimes there is because it’s so randomly careless and stupid.

So if you’re planning on partying anytime soon, ask yourself – do I really want that to be a description of me?

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

More from Jon Keller
  • David Francis

    Oh, how about running red lights? happens all day long. SOBER people most of the time, I’d gather. Even more reckless. Or people going 90 on the highway, weaving in and out of traffic, STONE SOBER. Personally I think raping is worse, and murder. Oh, and assault. I’d even go out on a limb and say arson is pretty high up on the list, too. Why not just do a piece saying all bars should be closed, all package stores locked tight, and prohibition be reinstated? I mean, ANY level of impairment, right? According to the laws of your wonderful commonwealth, and the hokey tools they use to determine it, even a small amount of alcohol pushes all of us into the Adolf Hitler category of heinous criminals of all time.

    Pardon my anger, but unless you’ve been on the opposite end of the nightstick, sir, you just have absolutely no idea.

    • rob warren

      IMissed the point? How about missed the universe!

    • StanleyRamon

      You obviously missed the point, and are part of the problem.

    • The Owl

      Until you been on the opposing end of a drunk driver, I doubt if YOU have any idea.

  • tsal

    Jon with summer coming and the deaths from alcohol related driving accidents on the rise (about 31.7% nationwide) this is a very timely and much appreciated blog. David, I’m a bit confused by some of what you have said. Typically for an average 170 pound man to go over the .08 level, he would have to consume four 12 ounce cans of beer in one hour on am empty stomach. Alcohol test or not, that is far more than someone should drink and drive. Also, I do not understand your reasoning for taking a breathalizer if you were stopped for non-alcohol related reasons. In the State of MA, refusal to take a breathalizer cannot be held against you in court.

    MA limit is .08. I think it should be lower. Sweden’s is .02 and they meet with tremendous success compared to ours. As far as police officers drinking, last I checked they are human. I know many police to drink. I also know they have arranged for a designated driver. Unless you are drinking with every one you mentioned – and your lack of respect for police tells me you are not – how can you assume they also do not have a designated driver.

  • Sandy

    I don’t know how you can say this David…your first comment has disappeared.
    John is correct in bringing this attention, and we need MORE. Do you know what its like to lose a loved one to a drunk driver? One minute you are a happy family…the next your heart is broken forever and your reason for living is gone. I lost my only child to a drunk driver, and it was his first offense too. My son Paul was just driving home after visiting his Dad. Do you know what its like to call your son’s Father and tell him that your son never made it home? There will be no college graduations, weddings or Grandchildren in our life because one night, one guy drank too much at a bar.
    The best advice is if you are going to drink…stay home. Its not worth it. In moments you can destroy people forever.

  • Sandy

    BTW….MA is one of only 10 states that do not require mandatory blood alcohol testing in cases of motor vehicle homicide. So David you need to sit tight, you’re living in one of the most liberal states in the Union. We are so behind the rest of the country in protecting victims and their families. This woman was a STATE TROOPER…and I am not afraid to say I admire them for putting their lives on the line for me everyday! God Bless Trooper Englehardt and her family. We should be grateful for people like them.

  • Buddy

    Where a state that the DA”s Office will turn the other cheek when one of there beloved state troopers or local city or town cops drink, drive and crash.

    I thought the laws were to apply to all persons in the Commonwealth regardless of race, color, creed,rellgion, sex or what police force you are employed by? I can’t tell you how many times a trooper has nearly run not just myself but many others off the road. No lights, no sirens no nothing other than total disregard for public safety, something they are supposed to enforce!

  • mikey

    Some people don’t have the good-sense that God gave a green tomato.

    • StanleyRamon

      I hear ya Mikey.

  • Raylene

    Rest in Peace Ellen

  • taxedout

    Year after year goes by and they still do Nothing about drunk driving!!!!Guess you have to be at the statehouse for more than 15 minutes a week to get Anything accomplished. 5 or 6 time or more drunks still on the road. Increase the fines, take away the license for 2nd offense, third jail, or impound the car and sell it!! Instead of a Tax a week on the people who abide by the law, start making the Law breakers pay and pay heavy!!!! Set up raodblockes Every weekend, and maybe you could Save a Life or 2!!!!

    • David Francis

      Great. Arrest everyone who willingly runs a red light, speeds, drives to endager, texts and drives, reads a newspaper during commute, or does anything that willingly puts everyone else at risk. unless you have an idea what you are talking about, i suggest not talking.

  • Denise

    Stupid drivers aren’t just drunk. I was at a Bike Rally in Gardner over memorial day weekend and while the street was blocked off and the 700+ bikes were coming out of the fish and gun club – this IDIOT for the nicest word I can come up with – plows thru the road block – she was lucky her antics didn’t take out a couple bikes – however she came very close to running down 1 of the volunteers and one of the spectators. Unfortunately nobody seems to have gotten her license plate # yet. There are posts at other sites that say because she didn’t hurt anyone they should let it drop and leave her alone. I’m sorry she broke driving laws – endangered lives – set very poor examples for the children that were there too.. So Drunk doesn’t always equal a dangerous driver! I suppose if she was drunk she might have had some type of excuse – but she sat long enough in traffic to know what was going on and instead of turning around and going the other way – she barrelled thru the middle of the Bike Rally… It’s not like the event wasn’t “highly publicized” in the area! I hope they catch her! She at the minimum deserves a ticket for crossing a double line to try and run the people down!

  • David Francis

    .08 is not an indication of impairment…to tsal – yes, you refuse a roadside breathalyzer, you lose your license AUTOMATICALLY for a year. It also sits on your record the same as an OUI and anything subsequent will cause it to be flagged as one.

    I do not advocate drunk driving, but the laws are lopsided (I need to film the cops who come from out of town to drink in our bars and start posting them, and, hey! What about being a Kennedy or an ex-wife of one in this state. Laws don’t apply to the brotherhood or those with power and money). The laws were brought about because of negative media the fueling of public outcry, and the knowledge it’s a money making scheme. I feel for anyone who has lost a family member to a drunk driver – i woke up, and I paid for my mistake. I continue to do so. Just saying commentary like this, uneducated and biased towards the headlines versus the reality of the situation, has no place out there in a news media forum.

    Oh, and I bet over 9/10ths of these cruisers being hit wouldn’t if they got rid of those dangerous strobing lights. They throw depth perception off at night even if you are stone sober.

    • tsal

      I believe you are I are both incorrect. It is a 180 day loss of license for refusing a breathalizer test. And .08 is an indication of impairment. IMHO it should be .02. I’m not going to argue with you about degrees of punishment or intoxication. No one – NO ONE – should get away with driving drunk and if one person does, please do not use it for justification as to why everyone does.

      Your statement, David, at 10:13 was “……unless you’ve been on the opposite end of the nightstick, sir, you just have absolutely no idea” You were not on the other end of anything. I suggest you read, reread and then read again The post above by Sandy. THAT IS BEING ON THE OTHER END.

      • sandy

        Thank-you tsal.

      • David Francis

        1 year loss of license. That is teh law as it is written for a refusal.And as I said it is unfortunate. However the determination for impaired should not be held on the currently ridiculous low limit set by the state and the faulty equipment they use. And saying drunk driving is one f the worst crimes committed? Yes, there is a SMALL segment who get behind the wheel completely intoxicated. And it’s these few that have set the bar so low for every who drinks responsibly at a bar (which is still legal, so the law is sort of entrapment to begin with) and is not impaired but are still considered drunk because of the flaws and silly limits of the law..02…from a machine that doesn;t determine impairment, and regularly fails to give accurate BAC readings. The handheld machines are even worse. I suggest you research, read, and reread.

      • tsal

        David this is the last time I will reply to you. As a result of Melanie’s Law suspension of 180 days minimum is the current penalty for refusing the breathalizer in MA.

        Also, in 2009 32% of all driving fatalities in the United States were from drunk drivers. I’d hardly call 1/3 of of fatalities trivial.

  • Sandy

    Its not the laws that are lopsided. Its the judges that don’t take these crimes seriously. I agree with taxedout. These people (no matter who they are) should pay the consequences.
    I do find it disturbing that in an editorial about the death of a State Trooper, that was caused by a drunk driver, we are discussing bad behavior of cops and troopers in particular. They are not superhuman. I hope the Englehardt family doesn’t read this.

    • tsal

      Sandy I know that there are first time offenders that do not offend a second time. That being said, a first offense should carry a minimum license suspension of at least a year. If a repeat offender appears before a judge and is not given jail time and does not have his/her license permanently suspended and then causes an accident, I sincerely believe the judge should be charged with a crime also. You are absolutely right that they do not take it seriously. My heart breaks for you and your family.

      • sandy

        In our particular case, the guy had already had his license suspended….that didn’t stop him. Some people you just can’t stop. I think all would agree on that. But what I don’t understand is why the judges only give out 2 1/2 year sentences. Its a crime in itself. I find total fault with the judges. I appreciate your sympathy. It will haunt me for the rest of my life.

  • BostonIrish

    David, I think your complaint and your argument is unfortunate. You appear to be very unhappy about an incident involving yourself and the law. I feel that drunk driving laws are not strong enough. No one has the right to jeopardize another person’s life through such obvious carelessness as drinking then driving. That’s the topic, and I agree totally with Jon. I cannot sympathize with your position.

  • ??????????????????????????

    Make of this what you wish:

    I have a relation that was given a field sobriety test and breathalyzer test by two state troopers after pulling into a gas station up North to fill up a motorized golf-cart. Remember this story last year? This person was attending a motorized sporting event about 200 ft. from the gas station. This person admitted to have a couple of beers. Big mistake. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT! This person passed the field sobriety test – no problem. The hand-held breathalyzer showed a reading 1/1000th over the legal limit. David’s right, these are not accurate. This person was then arrested for O.U.I. No priors of any kind, not even a parking ticket. Bail was set at $5000.00. Remember, no record of any kind. The state troopers knew they had a flimsy case so they talked this arrested person into having a bloodtest taken. It was. Meanwhile ASSOCIATED PRESS picked up the story and it went nationwide. Television and radio stations nationwide picked it up also, including BOSTON. BIG HA-HA – I guess. The bloodtest for alcohol showed this arrested person to be stone sober. Remember that this person had passed the field sobriety test with flying colors. This case didn’t even make it to court. The arrested person didn’t even have to go before a judge. The prosecutor in the case threw it out. ASSOCIATED PRESS FAILED TO MENTION IN THEIR ARTICLE THAT THE FORE-MENTIONED PERSON HAD PASSED A FIELD SOBRIETY TEST!


  • Willow

    The solution to all of this is go ahead and drink until you fall down. No one cares if you want to be irresponsible with your own life, but you do not have a right to put my life, or the life of the people I love in jeopardy just because you think you have the right to drink and then drive. No one is saying you can’t drink, JUST DON’T DRIVE!! Then you won’t have to worry about instruments that don’t work properly.

  • BostonIrish

    Questionmark, what a poor argument. A lawnmower incident being compared to a car killing a human being is an obscene comparison to say the least.

    • ????????????????????????

      It wasn’t a comparison. It wasn’t a lawnmower. It was an injustice.

      You posted previously replying to David: “You appear to be very unhappy about an incident involving you and the law.” That’s when I posted above.

      I meant no disrespect to the fallen officer. I apologize.

  • StanleyRamon

    I’m pretty disgusted with this entire thread of comments. It’s not what I expected. The lesson is clear. Have all the fun you want, just don’t drink then drive.

    • tsal

      StanleyRamon – It seems to me that is exactly what the majority have said in one way or the other.

  • emom

    The more alcohol is promoted as a enjoyable party enhancer, the more irresponsible people will get when drinking, and the more underage teens will see it as a party waiting to happen…. Already this year we have seen underage teens drinking and we also saw how they felt about getting busted for it,,, This is why we have folks that BELIEVE their drinking rights are infringed… REALLY NOW… anyone that goes out and drinks more than ONE drink ,,,, then gets behind the wheel of some vehicle, you become dangerous.. To many say I can HANDLE MY BOOZE, really it only takes one time to be stupid and then what… I have seen the ugly side of drinking, seen what it can do to someone and the family ., I have also seen what it does to classmates,, Bet most never knew how dangerous it really was,, for that matter the only ones that truly realized the dangers from it was the ones that mourned them..
    How many people will it take to make them realize that drinking and then driving it no longer right. What are we doing to our kids. Teaching them that a few drinks is no big deal, and that you can still drive and be coherent enough to do things, that 2 drinks don’t make you drunk……. I wish many would take a test study , the kinds they show on some shows, where they give you a drink , have you drive and video tape it and show it back, after each drink you take , and show just how you are when DRUNK .. And yes there are plenty of stupid drivers that are just that ,,,,,, stupid ,, the only thing I can saw to them is… WHAT WHERE YOU THINKING….. I wish this state would do away with some establishments from selling alcohol… Leave it in the liquor stores and restaurants,, BUT why do variety stores, grocery stores, department stores, and gas stations have to sell booze…. Especially when the liquor store is like next door, to many places to sell and less even card people. To many chances of underage getting the stuff, besides from friends and home… The law is to lenient and drunks get a pass every time.. Why does a person get arrested 15 times for drunk driving YET still manages to keep their license and drive ,,, Yet a drunk can handle their BOOZE,, RIGHT SURE THE CAN, tell that to the one that got hurt, tell that to a child that lost a parent, tell that to someone whose life has changed forever………. TOUGHEN THE LAW ON DRUNK DRIVING PERIOD, we are not helping the kids of the future, to many see how great it is to drink, following what the previous drunk does……
    Oh yes I drink, but I do not drive, do not go anywhere and drink, and will not depend on anyone to drive me if I drink,,,, I will have A drink at home only. I drink responsibly. As the commercials tell you to,,,,,,,,when will they ???????

  • Paul

    First, I want to state that I have never lost a friend or family member to a drunk driver, nor do I have any friends or family that have ever received a DUI. BUT, I believe that anyone convicted of a DUI, should lose their license for LIFE. If the get caught driving (since they cannot be trusted) they should get a LIFE sentence. I do not believe that Bars and Homeowners should be held liable for what a drunk driver does…these are adults…they should be responsible for their own actions. And if a drunk driver is responsible for the death of another….whether it is a first case or not….the driver should be sentenced to life in prison…..s/he KILLED someone. I do not care if it was because of their “disease” or that they were “just slightly impaired”. Unless we make the laws tougher….to fit the crimes….drunk driving will NEVER stop. Recently, there was a guy from NH who was stopped for his NINTH drunk driving incident (his licence was revoked) and that was only the times he was caught. The guy should not see the light of day.

  • Fore Drink And Drive

    […] Keller @ Large: Drunk Driving An Unforgivable Crime « CBS Boston It's an unbearable tragedy when anyone gets hurt or killed by the utter irresponsibility of drunk driving and the damage extends far beyond the victim, as those who loved Ellen Engelhardt can tell you. when one of there beloved state troopers or local city or town cops drink drive and crash. I thought the laws were to apply to all persons in the Commonwealth regardless of race, color, creed,rellgion, sex or what police force you are employed by? […]

blog comments powered by Disqus
Taz Show
Download Weather App

Listen Live