I can see how it is hard to have sympathy for anyone who chooses to get behind the wheel after drinking. As someone who has had a DUI (holy shit, that was ten years ago, I'm gettin' old!), it goes both ways for me.
On one hand, I can understand not having any sympathy since it is a pretty stupid thing to do, and puts other people in danger. Obviously, it is even harder to sympathize with someone who does this and kills or injures another or themself. Drunk drivers kill more people every year in the states than firearms.
On the other hand. I understand how it can happen, and some of the things that lead up to it. For me it was a gradual escalation. At first it was just a few beers and a light buzz and I was fine. Eventually it got to the point of being blacked out the night I totaled my truck. All of my friends who I hung out with at the time would drink and drive. Yes, we would have designated drivers some times, but some times not. A lot of the time it was having beers after work and stopping by the bar on the way home (I worked the evening shift). Nearly every adult I knew growing up drank and drove. Some would only do it after a beer or two, some would do it after way too many. I forget the exact figure used, but I remember hearing years ago that for every person that gets caugh for a DUI, they have driven under the influence something like a hundred times before getting caught.
We are creatures of habit, and we emulate those around us. The other part that I take issue with is how lax DUI laws are. I had some friends get DUI's just a few months before I got mine. Their punishment was pretty much non existent. Yeah, they had to pay a few thousand in fines, couldn't drive for 90 days, and take some classes, that was about it. Some of them were able to get the charge reduced to negligent driving. Stiffer consequences may not have made me think a little more about my actions that night, but they may keep other people from being repeat offenders. Nearly every person that I've known who has gotten a DUI has still driven while intoxicated.
My consequences were a little worse than my friends because I blew a .221, and the cutoff for the higher punishments in Washington is .150. I had to do two days in jail, had zero chance of getting it reduced to a non-DUI offense, paid more in fines, required a longer class, and had a requirement for an interlock device for a year (I just didn't drive for a year instead). This may seem like a lot, but none of it really mattered to me. What did was the fact that I could have hurt someone, and was lucky that I didn't seriously hurt myself. I don't know how I would have lived with myself if I had hurt someone else. Unfortunately, even these punishments aren't enough to stop repeat offenders. Most of them will barely notice any change in their quality of life, possibly temporary stuff but nothing that doesn't go away. If it were up to me, the manditory minimum jail time should be just enough to have the person lose their job, and to give them some serious time to think about how much jail sucks. The fines really aren't as bad as most seem the think. Usually the fines are about a thousand bucks, and if you spend time on probation those fees can add up. In Washington once you are done with your requirements, you are off probation. I think I paid less than $1500 to the actual court. The classes I took were about twice that, and a complete joke and a just a racket in my opinion.
Please don't misconstrue the above as me trying to lay the blame for my actions elsewhere. I take all the responsibility for what I did. However, I do think that most of the dui's that occur could be prevented if punishments were worse. If nothing, it would reduce the number of repeat offenders.
Another thing to remember, this guy probably wasn't drinking alone. If you have a chance to keep a friend from getting behind the wheel, do it. I know from personal experience that you would much rather be the asshole that wouldn't let your buddy drive, than the one who could have saved his life and didn't have the balls to do the right thing.