Stiffening West Virginia’s laws when it comes to dealing with drunk drivers has been bandied about in Charleston for several months now. As legislators move toward putting new guidelines out for discussion, they now have —tragically — a poster boy for tougher DUI penalties in cases where the violation is deemed to be more severe.

An allegedly intoxicated Brian John Stone, 32, of Gans, Pa., got behind the wheel of his pick-up truck on the evening of July 8 and headed out Interstate 68 near Cheat Lake outside of Morgantown. A short time later a three-vehicle accident happened, leaving five people dead and seven others injured, including three critically. Stone himself ended up being treated and released from a Morgantown hospital before being arrested and charged with DUI, his third such arrest in four months — and at least the seventh time in the past five years.

Sad to say, but this is the perfect example of aggravated DUI.

Most of the focus on the effort to establish an aggravated DUI law in West Virginia has centered on the blood-alcohol content of the driver when arrested. A benchmark of .15, nearly double the state’s legal limit, has been discussed as the point at which tougher laws kick in.

We’re in support of such a measure, but after this horrific event in Monongalia County, a whole new avenue needs exploring — that of the multiple offender.

Stone had serious issues long before that fatal Sunday night. His father acknowledged to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that his son has had drinking problems most of his life and that on more than one occasion when it came time for adjudication of said cases, he requested counseling and other treatment for his son, but the judges refused.

Not getting this guy off the road and into prison —and treatment — is a glaring example failure of the judicial system, partly, and perhaps mostly, because the laws just aren’t tough enough.

This is a plea to lawmakers to act decisively and swiftly so the odds for more Brian Stone-like stories decline substantially.

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