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.”
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: