Hartford County, CT- A Southington woman is facing charges of intoxicated driving after she allegedly showed up drunk to her two children’s elementary school Monday afternoon.
According to CTnow.com, Marita A. Shurkus, 45, arrived to an afterschool program at a Southington elementary school to pick up her nine and eleven year olds, but staff at the school suspected she was intoxicated and refused to let her leave with the children. Staff members then alerted police
When police arrived Shurkus was arrested and charged with criminal attempt of risk of injury to a minor and operating under the influence. She was taken into custody following field sobriety tests, according to CTnow.com.
Although Sharkus did not harm her children, there have been instances in the past where children have been killed or seriously harmed because they were in a car with a drunken adult.
In Feb. of 2011 an Illinois man killed his girlfriend’s 5 year-old son in a drunk driving accident. Cecil Conner was driving with a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit when he crashed into a tree. His girlfriend’s son was in the backseat and was killed instantly.
According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, 211 children under the age of 15 were killed in drunk driving collisions in 2010, at least 60 percent were passengers of drunk adults.
The state of Connecticut has fairly strict laws regarding drunk driving which included a minimum jail sentence, suspension of driver’s license for as long as a year, a judge can also order the offender to install an ignition interlock device. But Connecticut is not tough on drivers who drive drunk with children in the vehicle.
Some lawmakers are aiming to change that, and introduced a bill earlier this year that would enhance DUI charges and penalties if a person has a child in the car. Washington D.C. and 43 other states have enhanced DUI laws but for some reason Connecticut is lagging behind.
State Representative Al Adinolfi introduced, for the third time, legislation that would make it a felony to drive with a child under the age of 16 in the car while intoxicated, it would carry a maximum jail sentence of 4 years.
Adinolfi’s legislation is similar to New York’s Leandra’s Law, which was named after Leandra Rosado, an 11 year-old girl who was killed when a driver flipped the van she was in on the Henry Hudson Parkway. Six other girls were injured.
MADD also encourages lawmakers to require ignition interlock devices for first offenders if they are arrested with minor children in their car.
“You’re putting that child in danger and there needs to be a punishment that goes along with that crime,” said MADD volunteer Skip Church.
Some say that the legislation is unnecessary since it is already a felony to risk of injury to a child and carries strict penalties. But sometimes prosecutors in the state drop the risk of injury charges if that is the offender’s first DUI charge.