No Sympathy for Drunk Drivers

by Kerry Dougherty

With newspaper reporting being as poor as it is these days, it can be dangerous to weigh in on stories gleaned from dailies.

But what the heck, let’s give it a go today.

Over the weekend the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported on the case of a 24-year-old Chesterfield woman convicted of manslaughter and DUI.

She was sentenced three weeks ago to 20 years in prison, with 13 years suspended.

Why did it take the paper so long to report the story? Who knows. Timeliness is not important these days.

Here’s what we know: Kaylin Stine was driving with a blood alcohol level of .215 on January 30, 2021. That’s more than twice the legal limit. She’d been drinking all day and was headed home after friends begged her to spend the night at their house and when she refused, offered to drive her home.

Nah, she was fine to drive, she told them.

In a video, Stine called that a bad decision.

No, dear. That was about 20 bad decisions. Every drink that day was a mistake. Those two White Claws you picked up at a gas station were two more mistakes. Turning down an offer for a ride home was just one more.

So was switching on the ignition of your Jeep Cherokee.

That wasn’t the end of Stine’s bad decisions. She also was checking her cellphone — while drunk, while driving. That apparently caused her to swerve out of her lane into the path of a Honda CR-V driven by an innocent person, 23-year-old Jordan Barksdale, who died that night.

The hook for the TD news story was a YouTube video in which Stine told her story, ending it by telling people not to drink and drive.

The judge — for reasons I can’t understand and are not explained in the story — allowed the video to be shown at Stine’s sentencing. But Ms. Barksdale’s immediate family left the courtroom without seeing it.

I don’t blame them. This was a craven attempt to get a reduced sentence.

(Stine also approached Mothers Against Drunk Drivers and asked to make a video for them to use to urge people not to drink and drive. MADD wisely turned her down. They clearly didn’t want to be a gimmick her lawyer could use at sentencing to help demonstrate his client’s “remorse.”)

In her video, Stine is quick to point out that her boyfriend is in the National Guard and had been sent to Washington for the January 6th riot. As if that makes a difference. She said she believed he was coming home to surprise her that night and she was checking her phone for his location.

Apparently, she wanted to be all liquored up for the homecoming.

I watched the 3-minute video. You can too. Here it is:

She’s so sorry. Boo hoo. Who wouldn’t be filled with regret?

Ms. Barksdale paid the ultimate price for all of Stine’s bad decisions that night. And she’s just as dead as if Stine had shot her in the head.

On July 11, Judge Jayne Pemberton sentenced Stine to 20 years in prison with 13 years suspended, giving her only seven to serve. Hopefully, the judge also ordered Stine not to drive for the duration of her sentence: 20 years. No way she should be allowed back on the roads when she’s released.

There is no way to tell if the video pulled on the judge’s heartstrings. It didn’t tug on mine.

This column has been republished with permission from Kerry: Unemployed & Unedited.