• Sat, Jan 4 - 10:05 am ET

Classy Mom Of 5 Arrested On Fifth DUI Drove On The Sidewalk With Kids In The Car

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If there is anything I am unabashedly judgmental about it’s people who drink and drive. There is absolutely no excuse and I fully support throwing the book at them. So it baffles me how Nichole Kroger, a 36-year-old mother of five could be on her fifth DUI. This time around she was arrested for driving on the sidewalk. On New Years Eve. With two of her kids in the car. #Klassy.

Korger was arrested around 6pm on New Years Eve by an off-duty police officer. When she was picked up she had both her 8-year-old and her 10-year-old with her, because who cares about child endangerment when there is booze to get to, amirite? Ugh. According to police Lieutenant Jerome Miller:

“That’s the type of stuff that’s out there all the time. Unfortunately that’s the reason we are out there and appreciate those types of tips, whether they come from one of our own officers or another citizen – anything we can do to get those people off the road.”

Her husband, Kevin, is way more understanding of his wife than I would be in the same situation. He attributes her behavior to alcohol addiction and claims that she needs rehab, not jail. While I agree, she certainly seems to need rehab, I think a little jail time might hammer in the concept of DON’T DRIVE DRUNK WITH YOUR KIDS pretty damn well, also.

Don’t misunderstand, I am sympathetic to addiction and alcoholism. A very close relative of mine is an alcoholic who has struggled with the disease his entire life. When I was nine, he also drove with a kid in the car…me. Thankfully someone called the cops and he was pulled over and arrested. I had to sit for hours, waiting for someone to come get me, but hey, at least I was alive and at a police station instead of on the side of the road dead. That night could have ended very differently, just like Nichole Kroger’s could have. That moment was humiliating and frightening and life changing. So while I have sympathy for addiction, I have NO sympathy for drinking and driving of any kind, especially with kids involved.

What kills me, is how did she still have her license? Since she wasn’t charged with driving without a license, I’m going to assume she still had hers. While she was reportedly sober for over five years, she still had four previous DUI’s. How many do you have to get before you lose your right to drive? If I learned anything from my alcoholic relative, it’s that there are some people who will continue to drive drunk no matter what the consequences are. Hell, he drove drunk even without a damn license, but at least the attempt was made.

What’s the lesson here? There is no excuse for driving while intoxicated. None. Especially on the freaking sidewalk, and especially when you have kids in the car. I hope Nichole gets the help she obviously needs, but I especially hope that the authorities take away her license, because five DUI’s are five too many.

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  • Kay_Sue

    That’s what you call making it a family affair.

    I don’t understand multiple DUIs either. I honestly can see once, getting caught, realizing it was stupid and reckless and never doing it again. I cannot see more than once, let alone five separate instances.

    She does need treatment, but she also needs a significant consequence. And her husband seems like a classic enabler to me.

    • brebay

      I have to disrespectfully disagree. It’s this “one freebie” attitude that is responsible for lax sentencing, and for deaths. Drunk drivers genuinely believe that “everyone has done it once,” and it just isn’t true. If you shot a loaded weapon on a public road, you’d do time, even if the bullet didn’t hit anyone. 30 days for a first offense would FINALLY get through to people that driving drunk is NOT okay. Would you grieve less for your child if he were killed by a 1st time offender? I’m sorry, and yes, I realize we all make mistakes, but this cannot be one we continue to allow one pass on, because then the thinking is “If one’s understandable, how bad can two be?” You don’t need to do this once to “realize it was stupid.” I just can’t get on board with this. One time of any other potentially lethal crime will at least get you a few weeks inside, this needs to be treated no differently.

    • Blueathena623

      Especially when you consider a DUI just means they for caught — doesn’t mean its the only time they drove drunk.

    • Kay_Sue

      If we had stricter penalties for DUI offenses, perchance people would be more cautious of driving drunk, even if they had never been caught.

    • Kay_Sue

      I didn’t say to give them a pass at all. I said, I can understand it happening once. There was no mention at all of whether they should receive punishment or not. I can understand someone committing a crime, with the exception of rape or murder I suppose, once. Everyone makes mistakes. That does not mean they shouldn’t be punished for it to the full extent that the law permits.

      I just don’t believe in crucifying them for the rest of their lives for one mistake.

    • brebay

      The only assumption I’m making is that someone who got a DUI drove drunk. A short jail stay is not crucifying them for the rest of their lives. We’re in agreement that the laws should be stricter, I’m for a brief sentence for a first offense, neither of us is for lifetime crucifiction. We disagree on the point that you can understand it happening once, and I can’t. NBD.

    • Kay_Sue

      Naw, your assumption was that I am okay with it happening once. I’m not. My understanding of it is limited to those that serve their time, and then move forward as upstanding (non-drunk driving) citizens. Not to people that repeatedly drive drunk, or those that don’t really serve their time, or that get off through technicalities, or that drive drunk and are never caught.

      And yes, it is a big deal to me, to be honest. I don’t believe in a permissive attitude towards driving drunk. I’ve shared before that I had a family member die after a decade of complications after she was struck by a drunk driver while getting into her parked car outside of church. So yes, it is personal to me when someone–even an internet stranger–implies that I am simply okay with the act of driving drunk. I am not, and I would give almost anything if the first time he was pulled over for driving drunk, that man had been slapped with a penalty strong enough to deter him from ever, EVER driving drunk again, let alone the other four times he was pulled over for driving while intoxicated. No, she wasn’t my child killed by it, and no, it wouldn’t have been any better if it had been his first offense. The trauma for our family was, however, grossly compounded by the failure of the system to effectively penalize him on any of his previous offenses to the point where a wonderful woman and amazing human being was not killed by his senseless selfishness.

    • h

      I think too that a lot of this leniency comes from the be all, end all, .08 marker. Someone who had three beers when they would have been better off at one or two, yet posed no danger and got the bad luck of having a tail light out and the officer smelled beer and they blew a .08, is given the same treatment as someone who drives hammered, swerves all over the place, lucky they didn’t kill someone, blows .32, etc. If it’s a first offense and nobody was hurt, the penalty is the same.. so those who drive hammered think it’s no big deal. Not advocating a higher limit by any means, but maybe tougher sentences the higher the bac.

    • Véronique Houde

      The fact is that study after study has proven that higher sentences never lead to a decrease in criminal behaviour, it only increases state and federal spending in jailing institutions. People who drink and drive and commit other crimes don’t avoid doing it because of the punishment. Their behaviour goes beyond the punishment, especially when addiction is involved.

    • Véronique Houde

      When governments give higher sentences to criminals, it is more to please the population’s sense of justice than to stop criminal behaviour.

  • mommabeer

    The article says she was arrested 6 times, maybe some of those arrests didn’t end up as a conviction? It’s sad, but it happens that someone can slip through the cracks like that and not get their license taken away because they get off (several times?) on a technicality or whatever. But yeah, judging the hell out of her.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      Good point. If that’s the case, I think it’s even more disturbing.

  • Justme

    I have a few students who are currently dealing with a mother similar to this. For her children’s sake, I hope she gets the help she obviously needs.

  • Momma425

    My opinion:

    1) my husband is an alcoholic. I understand perfectly. I love my husband very much and despite his continued drinking, I support him. Why? Because as of this point, he drinks at home and goes to bed. He doesn’t put any lives other than his own in danger. As much as I love my husband- I love my daughter being alive, safe, and healthy MORE. If I ever found out he drove drunk with her in the car, I would seek jail time and slap him with divorce papers faster than you can say “don’t drop the soap.” One parent siding with the other at the risk of the safety of their children? Sick and twisted.

    2) my husband has had a DUI (got it before he met me). He drove drunk many, many times before he ever got caught too, so it is a miracle that he only got one. If he got another one? I WOULD SUPPORT TAKING AWAY HIS LICENSE! Why is this woman still driving? I would cut up his license and buy him a bus pass until he proved sobriety for a lengthy amount of time. Why? Because in addition to caring about my family, I do care for others as well.

    This man is an enabler, and is just as sick as his wife.

    • brebay

      It’s great he doesn’t drive, but honey, you know you are also an enabler.

    • Momma425

      Excuse me?
      I don’t enable or disable my husband’s drinking. I don’t buy him alcohol, I don’t support him drinking, I don’t defend him, I don’t drive him around when he is drunk. On the flip side, I don’t lecture him, I don’t pour his alcohol down the drain, and I don’t force him into rehab.

      I do recognize that he is an adult who is capable of making his own decisions and as long as he isn’t endangering me, my child, or anyone other than his own health, we continue to have a marriage. I go to al-anon meetings regularly, and there are parts of my life that are completely independent of him. Drinking is something he does within our home, after my child has gone to bed and not something he really involves me in one way or the other. If he messed up and did something stipe because of his drinking, it would be HIS problem to deal with, and I would neither defend, cover up for, or try to protect him.

      It is laughable how ignorant and accusatory you are about me, when you are not part of my home and have no idea about what goes on here.

    • Justme

      But there is still some driving force that is causing him to want to drink excessively enough for you to call him an alcoholic. And even though you say it’s not affecting you or your child, it certainly isn’t healthy for him, both physically and emotionally. Why not encourage him to seek out some help? Being an alcoholic isn’t “okay” just because he isn’t hurting someone in the manner of this woman.

    • Momma425

      Are you absolutely serious right now?

      In my relationship with my daughter’s dad, I will fully admit, I was a textbook partner of an alcoholic. I bought him alcohol, I lied and covered for him, I cried, I screamed, I yelled, I dumped his liquor down the drain, and I checked in an OCD fashion for his hiding places. Then, my daughter was born. And here was this beautiful, innocent baby who didn’t deserve to grow up in such chaos. When she was 8 weeks old, her dad hit me. I called the cops, had him arrested, and took primary custody.

      In looking back, that relationship was so toxic and abusive on so many levels. I remember going to the store and just standing in the bread isle- I didn’t even know how to buy the right kind of bread anymore. I remember during one of his visitations, he assured me that he wasn’t drinking anymore. Of course I didn’t believe him, and I checked. I was checking outside in the dumpster and something clicked- he has a drinking problem, but here I was, digging in a dumpster.

      I started going to al-anon meetings and learning. I read every book I could get my hands on. I read about healthy ways to react, and learned that I didn’t cause his drinking, couldn’t control it, and couldn’t cure it. I swore up and down that I would never again fall in love with someone who has a drinking problem. Well, life is funny that way because I met my (now) husband when my daughter was a year and a half old.

      He has always been extremely self aware about his drinking problem. He doesn’t hide alcohol from me, and after getting a DUI (he got that before we met, but was still on probation when we met), he doesn’t leave the house when he drinks. He is someone I would call a highly-functioning alcoholic. By that, I mean that he has a great job and goes to work. He isn’t absusive, and aside from the DUI (and his own personal health) his drinking hasn’t negatively impacted his life. He has even, on multiple occasions (sober and drunk occasions) talked about wanting to quit drinking and wanting to go into rehab. I have encouraged him. I have let him know that when/if he is ready, I will support him in recovery in whatever way he needs/would like me to. When I go to my al-anon meetings, I invite him to come with and go to the aa meeting, in the next room. He says no. He has taken the first step by admitting that he has a problem, and isn’t ready to do anything beyond that. And that is okay.

      So, in the meantime, I focus on me and my daughter and make sure she has a stable and safe home environment to grow up in, where she knows she is loved. As for my husband, he drinks alone and pretty much seperate from me, and I don’t enable him.

      I’m not sure why, when I talk about my situation, people just assume that I am some sick enabler, or even worse, that I don’t speak to my husband (which is seriously the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard of. “Why not encourage him…” Lady, I have been with the man for almost 5 years now. You are honestly suggesting that we have never spoken about his drinking problem? You HONESTLY believe that I have never tried I encourage him to get some help for his drinking?). There are ways to live with someone who is an addict, even if they are still using. It involves understanding that the person is an adult, accepting that you can’t control it, and making sure YOU and your children are safe and healthy. It involves detaching about the person’s drinking, and still loving the person. I walk a fine line, and have worked VERY hard to achieve a peaceful balance. I am certainly not perfect.

      But oh my god, I am sorry. I am sorry that there are apparantly no others out there who are aware of what it is like to be married to an alcoholic, or who have achieved serenity anyway. Mostly, I am sorry I even brought up my situation at all, because of all the stupid assumptions that are instantly made that just aren’t that case. Ugh!

    • Justme

      Tl;dr…you put yourself and your situation out there and for many people, it seems to be a concerning one. I never judged you, just expressed concern about a situation that could be potentially harmful to you and those you love.

    • Momma425

      Again, I am sorry I even brought it up and invited myself up to ridiculous assumptions in the first place.

  • Janok Place

    It’s possible if 5 years had passed since she got her last DUI she has simply regained her license in that time frame. Assuming she’s been driving 20 years or so the first few could have been prior to the courts taking it so seriously. If an alcoholic with a DUI seeks treatment, follows the proper steps, etc, they are eligible to reapply for a license. The question comes down to “Are we willing to risk a relapse and give this person a shot at rebuilding their lives, or are we going to play it safe?”… I’ve never heard of anyone having their license *permanently* removed for a DUI. I do hope they remove it for a significant period of time and insist on a mandatory breathalyzer being installed in her and her husbands vehicles for a very very long time. 30-90 days jail time might wake her up and dry her out.

  • helloshannon

    at 6PM? goes to show you that it could happen at anytime, not just in the dead of the night… judge judge judge

  • Ptownsteveschick

    I hope they are also sending the kids to counseling along with sending mom to rehab. I was the child being driven drunk in the car, and I was usually terrified I was about to die, or witness someone else being killed. At this age, I wasn’t brave or big enough, but by about 13 I was regularly grabbing the keys out of the ignition and running and hiding them, refusing to get in the car with my dad and threatening to call the cops etc. I to this day have to drive almost everywhere because I cannot relax if someone else is driving, among the myriad other issues growing up in that kind of situation can create. Those poor babies. The dad needs to quit being an enabler and do what is right for his kids.

    • brebay

      If kids are in a house where drugs are being manufactured, they are removed from the home. If mom is endangering their lives, and dad is allowing it to continue, then she is a danger and he is unable or unwilling to protect them from her. That is grounds for removal. States are increasingly taking kids away from mothers who continue to go back to their abusive partners, because it’s considered child neglect for failure to protect. I don’t see a difference here. I hope she gets jail time, and then rehab, but in the meantime, dad needs to put these kids first or let them go to someone who will.

  • Angela

    I also wonder how she still has a license with 4 previous DUIs but I guess we don’t know how long ago they happened. It sounds like she’s supposedly been sober for the past several years and only recently relapsed. If all the prior DUI’s were from more than 5 years back then I don’t think it’s unreasonable that she was able to get her license back. I mean I’m all for revoking licenses of irresponsible people but I also don’t think it’s unreasonable to give someone who’s been sober for several years another shot.

    But yeah, they sure as hell better revoke her license and also make sure that she doesn’t get unsupervised access to her kids until she straightens up (and I hope that she will). As far as jail goes I’d rather see her sent to mandatory rehab, not because I feel bad for her but because I know that it’s more likely to be effective.

    • brebay

      I think, at this point, she needs both.

    • Muggle

      Totally agreed. She needs rehab more than she needs jail. She clearly has a problem and being sent to jail isn’t going to fix it.

    • brebay

      Jail isn’t supposed to fix the underlying problem, it’s supposed to get it through to people that their actions endanger those around them. It’s a penal system, a penalty for gross disregard of the rights of others. 5 TIMES? She needs the penalty and then the help.

    • JLH1986

      She could get both. There are programs that work on addiction issues all day, but it’s jail, they may not leave the premises, they may not smoke, they may not do anything they wouldn’t be allowed to do in jail. They are in locked cells etc. it’s just rehab.

    • Blueathena623

      http://www.argusleader.com/article/20140102/ARGUS911/301020036/Husband-Woman-who-drove-drunk-kids-car-has-addiction-suffered-relapse?nclick_check=1

      This article paints a different story — 4 years sober, open container, kids unrestrained, driving on a suspended license, was still on patrol, last arrested in 2009.

      She needs some more jail time and then rehab.

  • arrow2010

    First DUI – license revoked and 60 days in jail.

    • brebay

      Couldn’t agree more. First time check forgers get more time than first time drunk drivers.

    • ElleJai

      I can see how you’d be desperate enough to forge a check, but I’m not seeing any excuses for DUI. Seems a pretty big disparity.

      … Unless we recall that the US legal system skews in favour of money. Licenses bring money into the state, forged checks are not taking money seriously enough. Maybe it really is all about the finance :/

  • brebay

    She’d have to kill a judge’s kid before it counts.

  • The Great Queen Spider

    I wonder why she was able to use a car in the first place. Ugh.

  • Boschii

    Wow! 6pm on New Year’s Eve? She must have been drinking all day… and it is especially lucky that no children (or other people) were on that sidewalk because while she might (and that is a mighty big “might”) not have caused enough of an accident to injure the occupants of her car, it wouldn’t take much to seriously injure a pedestrian.

    Like yourself I am #perplexed when you hear about someone who has killed others while DUI and then you hear that they had 7 before. DUI seems to have a high, known recidivism rate. Why, then, do we allow for multiple infractions of behavior that is so dangerous?

  • suckstobeme

    My husband has 6 dui’s. He also has his driver’s license. I’m not bragging or using my real name for obvious reasons. I would love it if a judge would throw the book at him. Small town politics. Judge is his golfing buddy.

    • brebay

      Forget the judge, you need a divorce lawyer. Get your assets separated so when he finally kills someone and they sue him civilly, you’re not living in a box.

  • Blueathena623

    Ok, so it says she was sober for 5 years, and I don’t really understand addiction, but if she really had 5 years under her belt, what could have happened mid-day to cause her to relapse so much that she would drive on a sidewalk with her kids? So, yeah, I’m wondering if she was truly sober all 5 years.

    • Momma425

      An addict is ALWAYS an addict. Even when sober- the person is one thought away from drinking, one drink away from falling under the wagon. She might have been thinking about it for a while, she might have simply had a bad day or a trigger.

      My guess is that she was sober for some amount of time, drank what she is used to drinking and then, having not had a drink for a while, was even more out of control. Additionally- while her husband might just be flat out lying about her being sober- there is little chance she was drinking in secret. Drinking is something that is extremely difficult to hide.

    • JLH1986

      Someone sober for 25 years can hear the wrong thing at the wrong time and relapse. Relapse starts internally LONG before the first drink/use. We teach our clients that EVERY DAY is a battle EVERY DAY. They can’t forget for even 2 minutes that they are in recovery or they will relapse and usually the immediately pick up where they left off. We had several clients who had almost a decade of sobriety relapse at Christmas. Holidays are extremely difficult for everyone, and those in recovery are no different. It’s possible she relapsed weeks ago and her husband was waiting it out to suggest rehab, or she had every intention of rehab after the New Year. It’s easy to relapse, it’s hard to stay sober.

  • Shelly Lloyd

    As someone who has lost multiple family members to drunk drivers, I have no sympathy for her. Throw the bitch in prison for a few years for all I care.

  • Allyson_et_al

    This

  • Alexandra

    Breathalyzer in cars. All cars. With all the electronics in cars now it wouldn’t be too hard to make something that locks the engine if you try to drive over the limit would it? Also, it wouldn’t need to be monitored and send a flag to cops, just wouldn’t let you drive.