Knoxville (WVLT) -- As police step up efforts to keep roads safer during the holidays, a recent deadly crash involving an alleged drunk driver with a long history of DUI’s has led to calls for tougher drunk driving laws.
On November 10th, Joan Marie Arrington, 40 was killed in a crash on Dandridge Pike, less than a mile from her Strawberry Plains home.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol says Roy Wayne Killion Jr., caused the wreck when he came across the center line.
He was charged with driving under the influence and vehicular homicide.
Killion has at least four DUI convictions dating back 11 years and had a suspended license at the time of the accident that killed Arrington.
With such a long criminal history, you might assume that Killion would be behind bars, but he has never stayed in jail for more than 120 days for any of his previous convictions.
We talked to Joan’s family about that.
They are still understandably heartbroken, but determined to see that the death of their daughter will lead to change
Joan Marie Arrington was a daughter, a mother of two, and a hard-working woman who worked overnights at the post office.
Her father Gary Austin lived next door to her and he got to the crash scene in time to speak with her one last time.
"She said ‘Dad, I can't breathe’”, said Gary. “’She said get me out of here,’ there was nothing we could do, There was nothing the rescue crew could do."
Her haunting words lefts her grieving father asking what could the law have done?
Could anything have prevented the wreck that left Arrington's two children, 13-year-old Tricia and 8-year-old Trey, without a mother?
Killion's driver's license had been suspended, most recently for three years in 2005, but still he was on the road.
"It's beyond comprehension how something like this can happen in this day and time, with computers and the way you can track people,” Gary said. “I just don't understand why the government, why the state don't get tougher laws."
Austin says he will likely add his voice to those who go to capitol hill in Nashville.
"Hopefully they can see our hurt and hopefully they can help the next person, because there is a next person,” Gary said. “Somebody's out there walking around and they don't know it yet, but they're going to have to go through what we went through and what we're going through. You know, it's never going to be over. This has ruined our lives."
Will any real change come?
We talked to Tennessee senator Tim Burchett who said he does expect some tough new proposals next year.
Those may include tougher mandatory sentencing.
As the law stands now, the longest sentence Killion could get is 25 years and he'd probably do less than a third of that time if convicted.