Pratts Receive DUII Advocate of the Year Award

CRIME VICTIMS UNITED


April 28, 2006

The Oregon DUII Multi-Disciplinary Training Task Force honored Crime Victims United members Anne and Bruce Pratt as "DUII Advocates of the Year" at the 10th Annual DUII Multi-Disciplinary Impaired Driving Training Conference in Tigard on Friday, April 28th.

The conference was held on Friday and Saturday at the Embassy Suites Hotel and was attended by hundreds of prevention specialists, treatment providers, police officers, prosecutors and others involved in DUII treatment and law enforcement.

The Pratts were honored for their tireless efforts to prevent drunk and drugged driving in Oregon. The Pratts have spent countless hours at the Oregon Legislature to successfully advocate for tougher sentences for drunk drivers who commit homicides and for other measures aimed at deterring impaired driving. In 2005 alone they made 63 trips from their Springfield home to the legislature in Salem to advocate for improved DUII laws.

In 2003, their efforts led to Brian's Law, named after their son Brian Hood who was killed by a drunk driver in 1998.

The Pratts have also participated in many victims' impact panels, observed DUII treatment programs, raised awareness of DUII through the news media, monitored courtrooms, comforted and counseled loved ones of DUII victims, and more.

In addition to their role with Crime Victims United, the Pratts are members of MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) and POMC (Parents of Murdered Children). Anne is a MADD Eugene Affiliate board member and serves on the Governor's Advisory Committee on DUII.

Anne and Bruce are very deserving of this recognition. They have worked hard for many years to protect innocent people. They have also played a major role in Crime Victims United as representatives of our organization at the Oregon Legislature.

Congratulations Anne and Bruce. And thanks!


Anne Pratt's Remarks

THANK YOU!!!! This award means so much to us.

When we lost our son to a drunk driver I questioned my own ability to survive. The senselessness loss and waste associated with DUII homicides was overwhelming and the lack of justice was the other looming factor that made it nearly unbearable. Justice is a necessary component for families to begin healing.

While we knew we couldn't change the past, we could work in the present to change the future for the victims who would unfortunately follow in our footsteps. We didn't want other families to endure the same senseless pain of losing a member of their family to a DUII Homicide. So we set out to make a difference by changing the laws and advocating for other victims. We didn't know how we would do it . . . we just knew we had to.

We found wonderful individuals and groups to help and guide us along the way. This award is not big enough to list all the names that need to be on it, who helped us or have gone before us; without them we would not be standing here. If there is a blessing to my son's death it has to be all the extraordinary people we have met in the last 7 and a half years.

Some are here today; we would like to say "thank you" to them.

Steve Doell - President of Crime Victims United. We most definitely would not be here if weren't for Steve. Steve tucked us under his wing, showed us the ropes and taught us how to lobby. Sometimes it felt as though he took us up in a plane, handed us a written note and a parachute, then gave us a push. We instinctively knew we could trust him. The unique thing about crime victims lobbying for tougher laws is that we have nothing to lose . . . we have already lost it. Steve knows that as well.

Dee Dee Kouns - Dee Dee and her husband Bob founded Crime Victims United in the early 80's; they paved the way for us to be here today.

Marie Armstrong - my fellow crime victim-survivor, good friend and also another MADD Mother. Marie's family has been struck 3 separate times by intoxicated drivers, resulting in two separate DUII Homicides, a serious injury and a critical injury. I often call Marie my partner in crime; we have done many, many speaking engagements together. Marie also has earned the nickname of "Mean Marie" and if you want to know why, just say to her . . . "Marie, those were just ACCIDENTS."

Howard Rodstein - Crime Victim United's policy analyst. Howard thinks up questions that absolutely no one else could possibly think of, but he keeps us straight and factual. Howard also maintains our great CVU website.

Some are not here today, but we also wish to thank them for their help and support as well:

Barb Stoeffler - Lane County MADD founder. Barb Stoeffler is like the Energizer Bunny; she has worked non-stopped on DUII issues since the early 80's and has provided much help, support and shared knowledge.

Doug Harcleroad - Lane County District Attorney has supported us and loaned us his Deputy D.A's. They had the overwhelming job of helping to educate us on the DUII laws; what a job that had to be for them; they also willingly came to testify on our bills.

Other supporters we wish to thank:

Josh Marquis, who also educated us on the laws and has offered endless encouragement.

The Oregon District Attorneys' Association, Sheriffs' Association, Oregon Chiefs of Police, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Parents of Murdered Children, Governor's Advisory Committee on DUII, especially Chair Chuck Hayes and Gretchen McKenzie, Representative Jeff Barker and many legislators and others who are too numerous to mention.

Last session was not a good session for DUII bills, but maybe more importantly we held the line and did not give up one inch of ground. We helped to keep bad bills from passing, such as Senate Bill 435, which would have increased earned time from 20% to 33% on presumptive sentences, such as Criminally Negligent Homicide, Assault III and Hit & Run. We also helped hold the line on Measure 11 sentences, those related to DUII crimes such as Manslaughter I Manslaughter II and Assaults I & II.

It is an honor to be standing here in front of all of you who deal with DUII every day, day after day. Thank you!!!! Please look us up during or after this conference and share your thoughts and ideas with us.

It is still very painful when we attend a trial or sentencing to see yet another family in our shoes. We know there is much work yet to be done.

Today you have richly rewarded us with this award, it validates that we truly are making a difference. Thank you!


Bruce Pratt's Remarks

Thank you, Anne.

Some of you may ask why Anne and I, and other survivors do what we do. There are perks for fighting for tougher DUII laws in the Legislature.

You can't get fired.

You can't have your hours cut.

You can't lose your vacation time.

The down side is that you don't get paid anything. But we do get the satisfaction of knowing that we just might save someone the grief of losing a loved one to an impaired driver. Special thanks go to those legislators who realize the importance of preventing DUII deaths and injuries.

What's next?? Where do we go from here? Very importantly at this time, we have an election coming up. It would behoove us all to contact the candidates, both for the legislature and for governor, and ask them where they stand on the issues of public safety, and on intoxicated driving in particular. We must keep our goals in front of them and on their radar.

We both thank you for this fine award.


Postscript: Anne's reflections, after the ceremony

I am a dangerous person to give a microphone to; I take advantage of it, but I have been waiting for a very long time to get all of you in the same room and to be able to say "thank you". I had no intention of passing up the opportunity.

It was a very rewarding time for us; there were many other individuals at the conference who were connected to Bruce and me and Brian.

Tim Weaver, the conference master of ceremonies, was the Newberg Police Officer who delivered the news of Brian's death to Brian's father and his wife at 4 o'clock in the morning 7 and a half years ago. I could see he was touched, but I didn't know why until after he presented our award. I have known Tim for about 3 years, but had no idea and neither did he until I sent him our story right before the conference. I got to say "thank you" to Tim too.

Mike Dugan was the D.A. when Brian was killed; he instilled the basic idea that we had the opportunity and the power to make a difference. Our prosecutor, Steve Gunnels was part of a panel Saturday on DUII case law updates; we have maintained a relationship with him ever since Brian's death; he is one of our biggest supporters.

Also in that room Friday when we received our award, were two of Brian's childhood friends; one of whom was very close to Brian. He is now a police officer; he gets very emotional when he talks about Brian.

What sticks in my mind the most is . . . Brian is not forgotten. Blessings . . . It was much like a walk back through the last 7 and a half years, but with a positive twist . . . and we got to say "thank you" to many deserving friends.

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