Hit-and-run driver sentenced to 7.5 years

Joshua Clifton, the driver who was racing down 30th Ave. on October 16th, 2009 when he hit cyclist Hart Godbold, has been sentenced to 7.5 years in prison for felony hit-and-run, filing a false police report (he reported his car stolen after the accident), and driving with a suspended license.  Clifton lost control of his car while racing, crossed two oncoming traffic lanes, and hit Godbold who was riding up the hill on the sidewalk. Clifton had been drinking rum before the accident, and had a suspended license due to a previous drunk driving conviction in California.

Click here for WeBikeEugene’s previous coverage of the incident.

The Register-Guard published an article about the conviction on Wednesday which had some shocking new information.   Excerpts below: (emphasis mine)

[…]

prosecutor Joann Miller presented reports from California showing that Clifton defied court orders there by continuing to drive after his license was suspended and by repeatedly failing to complete a mandatory prevention program.That pattern continued after he moved to Oregon, Miller said, when police arrested him in 2008 for drunken driving here. He did so again the night he hit Godbold, she said, despite recently attending a Lane County “victim impact panel.”

“He’s been given direct evidence of the impact of drinking and driving,” Miller said. “He saw presentations with six families who lost members to drunk driving. Judges in the past have taken his license away and he still drove, over and over again.”

[…]

But the judge agreed with Miller, saying that when Clifton “took off” after the crash, that was a separate act. Given his past arrests, Billings said, he had “no choice but to warehouse” Clifton to protect the public, “because there’s little chance you’re going to change.”

Click here to read the full article.

It is clear from the trial and testimony that Clifton was a habitual and unrepentant drunken driver. It is also clear that merely revoking a dangerous driver’s license does little to make the community they live in safer. This incident raises the question: “How did this get so far, and what can be done – short of imprisonment – to prevent dangerous drivers from getting behind the wheel of a car?”

Location of the crash:




Author: C-Gir

Contributor

4 thoughts on “Hit-and-run driver sentenced to 7.5 years”

  1. Just as an interesting note, not related to the crash per se but this could also be called a multi-use path… on the Eugene bike map it’s purple which on the rest of the map means path (though in the legend it also says “wide sidewalk”).

    As far as this case goes… I’m glad to see the driver finally get a sentence. It’s hard to imagine him not after the horrible record and clear lies that made up this case but the history of prosecution for motorists injuring ‘vulnerable road users’ is dubious at best.

    I hope Hart is doing better.

  2. “What can be done – short of imprisonment – to prevent dangerous drivers from getting behind the wheel of a car?” Answer: nothing; use imprisonment. If you recognize that a person is a loose cannon, it is best to contain him. Otherwise he will take innocent lives. Why do we always wait until it’s too late to see the obvious? This is a lot like the Key Biscayne, FL incident from a couple months ago, where the driver had 42 violations on his record, and yet was still driving, when he committed murder with his vehicle while drunk.

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