GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A Gulfport couple is advocating for harsher DUI laws in Mississippi.
"This came out of the blue. We never heard, there were no screeching breaks, there were no horns beeping, there was nothing. He never hit the breaks before he hit us."
That's how Jamie Bates describes the impact of a car crash she, her husband, and five-year-old son survived.
"Witnesses estimated he was doing 80 to 90, some even said 100 mph they thought," said James Bates.
The driver was Guadalupe Dominquez-Falcon. The Bates later learned this was his third DUI arrest.
"They told us that he claimed he wasn't driving, and he was the only person in the truck. So his blood alcohol level came back as a .219," said James Bates.
Dominquez-Falcon was also charged with driving without a license and driving without proof of insurance.
"He pled no contest to those charges and was sentenced to 182 days in jail and some monetary fines. But I think what's most upsetting about that is that of those 182 days, only two of them are for DUI," said James Bates.
The couple says that punishment just isn't tough enough.
"The way our laws are written, it's not a felony unless you have three within a five year period. As of October 1, it was amended fourth DUI in your lifetime would be a felony. I feel that every DUI charge should be a felony charge," said Bates.
The accident hits even closer to home for James, because he's lost friends to drunk drivers.
"If the penalties were stricter, maybe it would give pause to people, but as it is now, this is not taken seriously," said Bates.
Bates said Dominquez-Falcon's other two DUIs were in Kentucky.