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2 Strikes? 4 Strikes? 6 Strikes? More? May 1, 2008

Posted by Attorney Jonathan Groth in Personal Groth.
Tags: , , ,

Who in Wisconsin’s Legislature is tough on drunk driving?  I’d like to know.

Personally, I don’t believe someone should be given the opportunity to cause a car accident after numerous convictions for drunk driving.  Isn’t that just common sense?  I think I am in the majority of public opinion on this issue.  Aren’t I?

If the majority of Wisconsin’s citizens agree then why doesn’t the Legislature do something?  Why let a drunk driver back on the road after numerous convictions?  Why not take him out of society?  A place called prison.

I admit this post is chock-full of indignation.  Recently, in Oconomowoc (Waukesha County) a “Doctor” (former M.D.: he had his license pulled for drug abuse and writing fake prescriptions) was driving while under the influence of Oxycodone, Ambien and Xanax and killed a teacher, her young daughter and her unborn child, not to mention sending others to the hospital with injuries.

The Journal Sentinel uncovered that Mark Benson had a history of driving while intoxicated dating back to 1993.  In fact, he was in court for drunk driving just a few days prior to the vehicular homicides.

Also, Mark Benson did NOT have auto insurance OR a license [UPDATE: 9-26-08 According to Mark Benson’s brother he DID have insurance].  So, I ask again, who in the legislature is tough on crime?  Will this finally be the wake up call to put drunk/intoxicated drivers behind bars?

Sadly, because the criminal system failed, the only solace for the victims of this collision may be in civil court.  The criminal court system failed by not putting Mark Benson in prison, now the family of the victims will only be able to get monetary compensation for the loss of their loved ones.  Hopefully, they will hire a personally injury attorney that IS tough on drunk drivers and does everything in his/her power to punish Mark Benson.  If anyone asks why there is a need for punitive damages just point them to this case.

Maybe … hopefully a Judge will put Mark Benson behind bars and he will pay his debt to society.  Hopefully, someone will take Mark Benson to civil court so he pays his debt to the victims.



1. Steve Bukosky - May 3, 2008

Do you think that anyone in the Benson household should be responsible for allowing him to have access to a vehicle? And yes, I”m related.

2. jonpgroth - May 4, 2008

I’m very sorry for your loss. What happened is maddening. I’ve seen facts like these too many times. I’ve handled cases for victims across Wisconsin that were injured because of drunk drivers that the criminal courts didn’t think were “dangerous” enough to put behind bars.

First, I want to preface this by saying you should talk with a lawyer. (read my disclaimer).

That having been said: Legally, there is a doctrine called “Negligent Entrustment.” If you are initially in control of a vehicle and allow someone else to use the vehicle AND you knew or should have known that it was likely to use the vehicle in a way that was likely to cause harm then yes, a family (or friend) could be responsible.

But, you asked do I think the “Benson household” SHOULD be responsible. I think Mark Benson should be responsible. Being in the business I’m in I know about Mark Benson more than the average internet news reader. He needs to be held fully responsible for his actions. If the DA gets it right he will go away for a long, long time. If the civil courts get it right he will be go to “financial prison” also.

Honestly, Mark Benson’s family are also victims to some degree. I assume his family struggled with his addiction. I assume his family, kids and close friends worried about him and had a lot of sleepless nights. We know his kids were injured because of their Dad’s addiction back in the early 90’s.

I’m not sure who is in his household but I hope they are as upset about this as I am. I haven’t heard much about them but I have to assume they are good people. Maybe, hopefully we’ll see a news article about how they tried to stop him, called the police or tried to intervene.

If they didn’t then this story just became that much more disgusting.

3. Ever Hear Of A Designated Driver? « Jon Groth’s Wisconsin Personal Injury Weblog - May 4, 2008

[…] Tags: auto accident, designated driver, drunk driving, personal injury trackback I’ve written before about the doctor from Oconomowoc (Mark Benson) who drove while intoxicated and killed and injured […]

4. WI Drunk Driver Petition « Jon Groth’s Wisconsin Personal Injury Weblog - May 15, 2008

[…] I think we need to take drunk drivers off of the roads and into jail/prison.  (I’ve posted about this before…what happens if the drunk driver […]

5. Sooner Would Be Better! « Jon Groth’s Wisconsin Personal Injury Weblog - May 29, 2008

[…] convicted of his 10th drunk driving offense.  Now this won’t make the headlines like the Doctor Mark Benson case from Waukesha.  But, I hope some state legislator is taking notes and educates the rest about […]

6. Mark's brother - September 25, 2008

Mark Benson’s family has tried for the past 15 years to help him and/or stop the addiction and its related behavior. His behavior began damaging his family long before bones were broken and lives were taken. Still we continued to try and help.
Arrogance replaced the talents God gave him and that arrogance made him virtually unreachable.
This accident is a tragedy almost beyond description and immediately after it happened we reached out to the families that were so horribly affected by this.
I think it’s important that the “victim card” is not played in the scenario. Mark is accountable for what happened. He is NOT the victim here. During his life he did do good things but that does not mitigate the horror of what he did nor his responsibility for his actions.
He’s my brother and I love him but please don’t confuse that love for blind acception of his actions. It’s not. We are so sorry for those who are suffering as a result of this. The families of the Bella’s and Bukowski’s and all those related to them are the victims. We pray for them each day.

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