Last week, the Las Vegas Review Journal reported on a legislative hearing where, in a scene that could have been from Desperate Housewives, "A tearful mother testified …that her son would not be incarcerated and three of his friends would be alive today if the 2003 Legislature had passed a tougher teen driving law."
The story went on to say that Susan Larimer, whose 16 year old son was drunk and was the driver in a wreck that killed three other teens when he drove into a wall, thinks the law should be changed so that teens should not be allowed to drive other teens for a whole six months after they get their driver’s licenses.
With all due respect for a mother whose son is serving a two year sentence in juvie for killing three people—and the three people he killed—where was she while her 16-year-old son was getting drunk, driving the family car and killing three other people?
She told the legislature that she wasn’t there to make excuses.
Well, Ms. Larimer, passing a law like that is one huge excuse for not being a very good parent.
She told the legislators that she was going through a divorce and that she let him drive because she thought that she "needed" him to drive.
Worse, Assemblyman John Oceguera, who happens to be the chairman of the Transportation Committee and appears to be old enough to know better says that he’s committed to "meaningful legislation" coming out.
Are all these people smoking crack?
Here is the way you solve this problem.
Make Ms. Larimer equally responsible for the actions of her son. Not just financially but criminally. She, after all, let him drive without providing much in the way of parental supervision.
What the proposed law would do is make the rest of us, through the court system, take the place of poor Susan Larimer as Sean’s parental supervision while she is busy going through her divorce.
Somebody should have been there to tell Sean, NO. That’s the job of his parents.
Don’t misunderstand our position.
We think that safe driving by newly minted drivers is a worthy and admirable goal.
But you can pass a hundred laws like the one proposed in this case and all they will do is to highlight the real problem which is irresponsible parenting.
The fact is that a car is a one or two ton weapon in the wrong hands. Kids need to be taught first how to drive them safely but also how to drive them responsibly. Parents are our first line of defense here. The courts are our last.
If you really think that such a law would have stopped 16-year-old Sean Larimer from getting drunk and killing three people behind the wheel of a car, ask yourself this:
Why couldn’t his mother stop him?
And, if his mother couldn’t stop him, do you really think and he would have thought, "gee, I shouldn’t be drinking and driving because there’s a law against that?"
The truth is that Susan Larimer hasn’t learned a thing from this episode because she still doesn’t get it.
She owns an equal share of guilt for what happened. Her son did it, but she let him and now, instead of taking responsibility, she wants us (the village) to be responsible.
We’ll support the law if we can amend it to retroactively make Ms. Larimer criminally responsible and have her sentenced to two years as well.