‘One of nation’s worst drunk drivers’ gets a break

Nothing, not losing a license, not jail time, not even losing most of her kids to the state, is likely to keep Tasha Lynn Schleicher, 41, of New Hope, Minn., from driving drunk.

Schleicher, you may recall from a NewsCut post, is the woman the Riverside, Ill., police chief labeled “one of the worst DUI offenders in the United States” when police found her passed out at a gas station in April, after dropping off the one child she had left so he could party on spring break, although she told authorities at the time she couldn’t remember where.

It was DUI arrest number 11 for her.

In 2017 she drove drunk in Rochester and crashed into a median barrier on U.S. Highway 52 with five kids in the car. When police showed up, she was breastfeeding one of them. She didn’t have a driver’s license.

The Rochester Post-Bulletin found that in almost every one of her encounters with the law — and there were plenty — no resources were provided to her by child protection workers.

“I guess I can’t blame it on them,” she said of the caseworkers. “They’re my kids, and I should’ve taken care of them and not drank, so I don’t want to place blame on them because I’m the one who let (the kids) down.”

Schleicher, it’s safe to say, is a mess and she’s an easy punching bag, even in a state like Minnesota where one of every seven drivers has a drunk driving conviction.

But when she was given probation for her latest DUI on Monday, her story revealed another truth that doesn’t get anywhere near enough attention: the system isn’t that tough on drunks on the road.

She had seven felony charges filed against her, but she cut a deal in which everything was dropped except for a single DUI charge in exchange for a guilty plea.

The judge gave her two years of probation.

Tom Weitzel, the police chief in Riverside, is disgusted.

“A sentence of 24 months of probation for Ms. Schleicher is, simply put, disappointing,” Weitzel told the Chicago Sun Times in an email. “This continues to demonstrate that as a nation that drunk driving and drugged driving are not treated as a serious criminal offenses. Society’s views need to change and habitual DUI offenders need to be held accountable for their actions.”

Reality check: Every 50 minutes, someone dies in a drunk driving crash in the United States (source: CDC). Society’s views aren’t going to change. Even when Ms. Schleicher eventually kills someone.

(h/t: Matthew Becker)