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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, December 7, 2003

Sobering wake-up call for those driving drunk

Nobody takes pleasure in seeing a young man sent to prison for 18 years. But society must steel itself to this kind of unpleasantness if it is to deal effectively with the plague of drunken and drug-impaired drivers on our roads.

This particular young man, with his previous and subsequent driving transgressions, did his utmost to make it easy to throw the book at him.

Kam K. Williams, then 19, had been drinking with friends when, driving a friend's car, he crossed the center line and erased the life of an innocent 32-year-old wife and mother.

Williams' blood alcohol content was almost three times the legal limit. He was driving without a license. Just months earlier, Williams had been convicted of driving under the influence.

In the past, most such cases have resulted in negligent homicide charges, with shorter sentences. Williams pleaded guilty to manslaughter and — like former police officer Clyde Arakawa, who also was found guilty of manslaughter for a fatal DUI — he was sentenced to serve 18 years before he is eligible for parole.

It is the twofold purpose of such prison sentences to punish the transgressor and to deter others from repeating their behavior. People must consider carefully the growing gravity of the consequences before drinking and driving.