atlanta dui consequencesLinda Lisska McJunkin had it all, and in a split second it was gone.  A well-known high school and college athlete with two degrees from Georgia Tech, a loving family, and a brand new real estate license to top it all off, Linda made a single bad decision in October 2004 that affected every decision she’d made prior.  After consuming four drinks out celebrating with friends, Linda drove drunk into head-on traffic and took two lives. Pleading guilty on two counts of vehicular homicide in Atlanta, she was sentenced to serve 15 years in prison. Released recently on parole for good behavior, she’ll spend the remainder of the 10 years on parole and 5 years remaining on probation.

Last month, Linda spoke publicly, for the first time since she was released from state prison, to a group of GA Tech student-athletes.  In a word, Linda could be described as humbled. The AJC quoted her saying, “I don’t think there’s a part of me that isn’t different.”  With college diplomas and real estate license in one hand and felony charge in the other, Linda now works retail for hourly wages.

As an Atlanta DUI lawyer, I hear stories just like this one all too often. When you hear a story like this on the news, it’s natural to think the worst of the driver who drove drunk and killed people. It’s devastating.  In no way am I defending Linda or saying what she did was right.  The point I’m trying to make is that before that October night, Linda was a regular person.  Just like you.  Just like me. She had everything going for her.  After a night out with friends, her main concern (consider it selfish or human nature) was getting home because she had to work the following morning.  She didn’t think about what could happen in response to her DUI in Atlanta; she really didn’t think at all.

People make the same mistake Linda made daily; the only difference is that Linda didn’t get away with it like so many others do. Drunk drivers get behind the wheel thinking they’ll be fine, they’re just going right down the road, and it’s no big deal.  Just ask Linda, vehicular homicide is a huge deal, which means even driving “tipsy” is a big deal.  So next time you consider driving, even just the least bit impaired, think about Linda’s story.  Think about Linda’s daughter and the years of her life that Linda missed while she was in prison.  Think about the two families who lost their sons in the accident.  Just think.

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