Elderly driver in Texas faces civil penalties for wrong-way crash
There are many reckless or dangerous drivers out on the roads. We see them all the time as they get distracted by their phones, swerve in and out of traffic or race past us as they drive well above the speed limit. We expect that these drivers will face some consequences for their behavior. They will be ticketed or have their license revoked for putting people in danger. But this does not always happen.
Despite reports that an elderly driver smashed into a motorcycle head-on in a Texas car accident, the woman still has her license and has not faced any serious criminal penalties since nearly killing a man. How can this happen?
In this case, the 83-year-old woman simply refuses to admit that she did anything wrong on the day she drove onto a freeway going the wrong way. She says she has no memory of the accident and has no intention of giving up her driving privileges.
The woman was ordered to retake the driver's test if she wanted to keep her license, and she did retake it; four times in three months. She failed each time, but was able to keep driving while she was taking (and failing) the driver's test. On the fifth try, she passed and was allowed to be back on the street.
Loopholes in the system have allowed this woman to get back behind the wheel, though she appears to pose a serious threat to other motorists. While she may have escaped criminal consequences for her role in the recent accident, she will face civil penalties for her negligence. A jury recently awarded the victim of the motorcycle accident $5 million, part of which will be paid by the woman.
It may not seem fair, but people who cause or contribute to an accident may not always face the type of punishment that victims feel is appropriate. It is important to remember, however, that victims have the power to pursue a civil claim for compensation after an accident, even if the driver escapes criminal charges.
Source: KHOU, "Elderly wrong-way driver drives through a loophole in Texas law," Byron Harris, Aug. 1, 2013