Families of DUI victims urge you to think twice before drinking and driving

Posted at 5:45 PM, Dec 02, 2016

For Maricella Readon, this will be her first Christmas without her five-year-old son, Jayden.

"It's unfair that I don't have him here with me," she said.

He was run down by a man fleeing police in Boynton Beach earlier this year.

"For me it doesn't get easier, it gets harder. It reminds me that my son is on this poster," she said, referring to a poster of several children who had been killed by senseless acts. "I hate being a part of this club. It's unfair. It's something so senseless, so minor."

A luncheon in Boca Raton on Friday by Dori Saves Lives -- part of the Dori Slosberg foundation-- brought the families together to share their stories and help put a stop to the senseless acts that took the lives of their loved ones.

Sadly, people drink and drive every day of the year. But as the holidays approach, police say because of holiday parties and family gatherings drunk driving can spike this time of year.

The families know what it's like to feel the sudden loss of a loved one -- because of a drunk driver. They hope to convince some drivers to think twice if they've been drinking.

Irv Slosberg, CEO of Dori Saves Lives, is Dori's father. She was killed by a drunk driver in 1996.

"I can't bring my daughter back. She's dead," he said. "The only thing that I can do is make sure that it doesn't happen to other people."

He claims the state is going through a drunk driving epidemic. He said drunk driving fatalities in the state of Florida were up 18 percent last year.

"And if you start looking at Palm Beach County with alcohol-related fatalities, we're up 58 percent last year," he added. "Our job as a foundation is to bring out awareness as to what the problems are. And now, I've been given the green light by the Florida Ethics Commission to represent the Dori Slosberg Foundation in front of the legislature. I will be pounding the table for tougher laws and making texting and driver a primary offense. Right now, it's a secondary offense."

In August, 18-year-old Nick Garcia was killed when a drunk driver T-boned his car. He had just graduated high school in Coral Springs.

"Talking about the memories we had with Nick, it gets easier," said Anthony Bargess, Nick's friend from high school.  "If there's a tragedy in life, don't shelter yourself, talk about it. It's hard, but we still have each other."

"This was the biggest obstacle. I still haven't gotten around it," said another friend, Jeffery Clinton.

21-year-old Kevin Boos and two friends were killed last year by an intoxicated driver.

"Our children are on this poster. We did not want to me a part of this club," said Kevin's mom, Joy.  "I will always be Kevin's mom. He will always be in our hearts."

The drunk driver in that crash was sentenced to ten days in jail. Joy hopes laws can change to hold people accountable and prevent more deaths.

"A senseless irresponsible tragedy of drunk driving. It needs to stop... Zero tolerance," she said.

In the Readon case, Maricella said that the suspect is facing only seven to eight years in jail.

"He stares me down [in the courtroom]. There's no remorse. He smiles," she said. "We need stricter laws... we need to keep these criminals off of our streets."

Highway patrol officers say drunk driving has been on the rise again in Florida over the past couple of years.

December is Impaired Driving Prevention Month. Officers will be out in full force looking for impaired drivers this season.