By Garth O'Brien | November 10, 2007
Filed Under DUI News
Seattle, Washington – November 9, 2007. On June 22, Kollin Nielson was working roadway construction on I-405 near Kirkland. That same night Kyle Williams was drinking in a Kirkland bar. While Williams was driving home he had a blood alcohol level of 0.20. The DUI legal limit for Washington State is 0.08.
Williams was also speaking on his cell phone while driving home. He claims he dropped his phone and went to pick it up from the passenger floorboard. That is when Kyle Williams veered into the construction zone slamming into Kollin Nielson and Brandon Overland. Brandon survived, but Kollin was dead at the scene.
Williams entered a plea of guilty, and Judge Harry McCarthy gave the maximum sentence of 41 months in prison. Who wins in this situation? No one. The friends and family of Kollin Nielson will never have a chance to visit with their loved one. Sara Nielson, Kollin’s wife, will endure a lifetime of this tragic memory and haunting visions of a future with Kollin that will never be.
Kyle Williams on the other hand will suffer as well. Kyle is a former member of the United States Navy, graduated from college and is an Internet network engineer. Not your typical “criminal.” Someone you would not expect to find in a prison facility.
Everyone can get behind the wheel and drive impaired. Search < DUI > in Google News. You will find a hundred stories about judges, police officers, firemen, prosecutors, celebrities and countless other citizens being arrested for DUI. Good people. People that dedicate their lives to improving society. However, anyone can make this terrible and costly mistake.
What is the answer? There is a “drastic” measure. I bet the members of Kollin Nielson’s family before Kollin’s death would think the solution ludicrous; install Ignition Interlock Devices in every vehicle operated on United States roadways. That is right. Add 10 more seconds to your routine. Buckle the seatbelt and blow into the alcohol detection device. You have been drinking and the car will not start. If that occurred on June 22, Kollin would still be working roadway construction and enjoying his life with Sara. Kyle Williams would not have been able to start his vehicle, and would not be a guest at Walla Walla or Monroe for 41 months.
Unfortunately, no one wants to commit to protecting our roadways and our loved ones. We conducted a survey recently and found over 50.7% stated it should be illegal to drive after consuming alcohol. However, only 32% were in favor of having an alcohol device installed in all vehicles. I guess we should rely on the honor system. I guess we will continue to risk human life year after year putting our faith in hoping people will make the correct decision. Ask any DUI defense attorney why there is not an element of intent for the crime of DUI. Consuming alcohol impairs your ability to make good decisions.
Over 12,000 people die each year across the US because of alcohol related accidents. Kollin is a member of that horrible statistic. I wonder if any of Kollin’s friends or family members would support a mandatory requirement that each vehicle have an alcohol detection device. I wonder if Kyle Williams wishes such a requirement existed before he went out drinking on June 22. One simple solution could have prevented the carnage of June 22.
I have not suffered the loss of a friend or family member to drunk or impaired drivers. Although, I did prosecute and defend thousands of DUI defendants for seven years and saw the impact a DUI can have on all parties. About 90% of my former clients wished their vehicle did not start the night they were arrested. Most of the individuals I put behind bars probably wish their vehicle did not start the night they were arrested.
I only hope those that scoff at this solution never have to face the loss of a loved one. I hope they do not face a DUI arrest. However, I am certain their opinion will change if they are put in those situations.
You can learn more about Kollin Nielson here. After you see the pictures of his life maybe you will begin to support a requirement for Interlock in every vehicle.
May 14, 1977 – June 22, 2007