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Judge sentences drunk driver to view accident victims

By Arthur Elk

Drunk driving is a tragic problem in our country. Thousands of people lose their lives senselessly each year because of the wrong choices others make to get behind the wheel after drinking.

As a personal injury attorney, I’ve seen the sad consequences of drunk driving too many times. Often, the drunk drivers are repeat offenders. If you’re like me, you’ve heard too many stories on the news about drivers being convicted of drunk driving for the 10th, 15th or even the 20th time.

That’s why I was very interested to hear about the unique sentence a Northeast Ohio judge imposed on a first-time drunk driving offender earlier this week.

Painesville Municipal Court Judge Mike Cicconetti is known for handing down some interesting sentences.  In  2005, Cicconetti sentenced 26-year-old Michelle Murray to spend a night out in the cold for abandoning 33 kittens in the dead of winter, nine of which died.

In Cicconetti’s court on Tuesday, first time OVI offender Jonathan Tarase, 27, was sentenced to 65 days in jail, with 60 of the days suspended, probation for six months, a $600 fine and no driving privileges for 15 days. But there was another twist. Tarase will have to view the bodies of two car accident victims at a local hospital ER or coroner’s office. Cicconetti wants to make sure that Tarase learns the lesson that drunken driving kills.

I think it’s great to see a judge thinking of creative new ways to fight the deadly problem of drunk driving. If just this one offender can learn a lesson and never drive drunk again, the experiment will be a success. Hopefully other judges will continue to come up with other new ways to try to keep drunk drivers off the road.

Please stay safe. Don’t drink and drive.