Nevada Tough on Drunk Drivers - 8 News NOW

Nevada Tough on Drunk Drivers

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Jesse Hill killed New Year's Day Jesse Hill killed New Year's Day

LAS VEGAS -- The sentence in a drunk driving case in Texas is highlighting some of the problems in penalties in DUI cases.

A Texas judge gave a 16-year-old boy 10 years probation after he hit and killed four people while driving drunk.

Las Vegas is a 24-hour drinking town, and this light sentence has put Nevada's laws under the microscope.

People can order alcohol around the clock but if they get behind the wheel of a car drunk, and then kill anyone in Nevada, they will do hard time and get a lesson in crime and punishment.

Anne-Marie Ricci's life was shattered by a young man believed to be drunk while driving. She and her boyfriend, Jesse Hill, were walking to a park in North Las Vegas on New Year's Day.

"While we were walking on the sidewalk, an impaired teenage driver hit us from behind." Ricci said. "I was critically injured."

The crash killed Hill. The young man believed to be behind the wheel that day, Cristian Diaz, is awaiting trial.

"I just want him to be responsible and own up to his actions that took place that day," Ricci said.

The Texas case is shocking to people who work to stop people from driving drunk, like Sandy Heverly the executive director of Stop DUI.

"What victims get probation?" Heverly said, "It is another example of re-victimizing the victims. It is a horrific example of injustice."

In 2007, Ronald Jayne, Jr. ran a stop sign near Farm Road and Tenaya Way plowing into a Mercedes SUV and killing five people. Jayne's blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit.

Unlike the young man in Texas, Jayne is serving a 15-to-45-year prison sentence.

"Nevada has some of the toughest DUI laws in the country." Heverly said.

Stop DUI lobbied the Nevada Legislature for mandatory prison time in felony DUI cases because slap-on-the-wrist sentences did happen here.

"Our judges, 20 to 30 years ago, they had that same discretion, and as victims, we were like, 'oh my God, how can you have that discretion when somebody has killed somebody under those circumstances?'" Heverly said.

Metro Police are out enforcing the law. Last year, the department arrested 7,800 people for driving drunk or high on drugs. This year, the department is on track to do the same.

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