Drunk driver who killed father of two gets 10 years
A 49-year-old has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for killing a man in a drink driving incident, exceeding the Supreme Court's sentencing guidelines.
The Incheon District Court on Tuesday handed down the sentence on account of the victim suffering from extensive pain due to his injuries before his death, and the defendant not being forgiven by the victim's family.
The sentence is within the legally permitted limit, but higher than the range of punishment recommended by the state in the case of such crimes.
The defendant had been driving his car under the influence of alcohol on July 7 in Incheon, when he came across police officers clamping down on drunk drivers. In a bid to evade the officers, he drove on to the sidewalk and hit the victim, who was reported to be a father of two young children. The victim was working away from his home in South Chungcheong Province to support his family.
The victim suffered a severe injury to the head and a severed leg, and eventually died.
An investigation found that the driver had been punished for drunk driving in 2001.
"It is a grave matter since (the defendant) hit an innocent man in order to evade officers while driving drunk," the court said in its verdict. "The victim had to die in great pain after sustaining such a severe injury. (The court) considered the fact that the bereaved family members have sustained extensive shock and pain, and that they have not forgiven the defendant."
The defendant's crime falls under the Article 5-11 of the Act on the Aggravated Punishment of Specific Crimes, which states that death and injury due to dangerous driving can be punished by up to 15 years in prison. He also was charged with drunk driving, punishable by up to six years in prison.
While the legal punishment is as above, South Korean courts usually hand out rulings based on the standards of the Sentencing Commission, affiliated with the Supreme Court. This standard stipulates a maximum eight-year prison term for the charge of death by dangerous driving, and a maximum of one year and 10 months for drunk driving.
In case of a ruling for multiple charges, the commission recommends the maximum punishment for the primary charge -- which in this case would be eight years for deadly driving -- to be added to half of the maximum punishment for the secondary charge -- drunk driving. As such, the maximum recommended punishment would have been eight years and 11 months.
Exceeding the state recommendation is possible but rare, and is handed down as the harshest form of punishment.