We still don't treat DUI offenses as if they're too serious
By Reach Roberts
Nov. 2, 2005 12:00 AM
It's said that you could smell the alcohol on 22-year-old Muneerah Ali Al-Tarrah from five feet away. Her eyes were watery and bloodshot, and she swayed as she stood there, insisting that she only hit a light pole. In fact, police say she was drunk twice over when she hit Todd DeGain and left him there to die on a Mesa street.
For that, I'm betting she'll get probation.
Just because she was stinking drunk when DeGain's head crashed through her windshield doesn't mean she bears any responsibility for his death, at least, not the way prosecutors see it. They place the blame for DeGain's death entirely at DeGain's feet. As for hit and run, well, that isn't so much a crime around here as a way of life.
Glenn DeGain is quiet, restrained even, as he talks about the loss of his son. It's not that he doesn't blame Al-Tarrah and her friend, Reem Ahmad Bishara. He does. But he wonders at a justice system that doesn't hold people accountable for what happened to his son and to so many before him. "There is something lacking in the conscience of somebody that could do that," he says.
In fact, there is something lacking in a community that allows this sort of thing to so often happen with nothing more than a collective shrug of its shoulders. It's routine anymore to hit someone and leave them in the road, to die or not.
In Maricopa County, 11,693 drivers cut and ran last year, leaving 3,872 injured people in their wake and 33 dead. Better to run, they reason, than to be held to account. Besides if they're lucky, and most are, they're never caught.
Al-Tarrah and Bishara weren't so lucky. According to police, they met outside a Scottsdale bar early on Sept. 14 and drove to Mesa, with Bishara following Al-Tarrah.
Todd DeGain, 35, had been at a lake that day and hadn't