”Woman with five DWIs pleads guilty, gets five more days in jail.”
So read Friday’s Union Leader headline on a story that underlines a problem with how some New Hampshire courts and prosecutors are endangering public safety. The question is who in the Department of Safety will take responsibility?
If it were not a matter of life and death, the saga of Marie Collins of Raymond would be laughable. The record shows that she has been arrested for drunk driving no fewer than five times in the last five months.
But before the individual cases could be adjudicated, Collins was back behind the wheel, endangering still more lives. She was doing so even though her license had been suspended. She was finally held in mid-January after the fifth DWI arrest.
Clearly, the only thing that would have and should have stopped all this was for the woman to be jailed. That should have been done after she was nabbed a second time.
No doubt bleeding hearts will say that the woman needs help. That would be fine with us, provided that the help was offered where she could no longer threaten the public safety.
Yet Judge David LaFrancois in Candia Circuit Court last week ordered Collins to serve just five more days in jail.
Her lawyer acknowledges that “something went wrong over this short period of time.” But he thinks the state “has taken on a rehabilitation type approach to this and she’s 100 percent on board.”
He says the goal is to get his client help, rather than more jail time. Actually, the goal needs to be to protect the public. Any one of the woman’s DWIs could have killed someone.
The Department of Safety and state legislators need to work to stop this insanity. A second DWI arrest coming close on the heels of a first should result in jail without bail. Public safety must be the priority here.