Jail Time for Hunting Down People on Bikes With a Car While Drunk: Zero

2887130491_b1c9cece0e.jpgWhat will it take for people to realize hitting people on bikes is not a laughing matter? (Photo: Pedal_Power_Pete via Flickr)

Earlier this week, we wrote about a Mike Pintek, a Pittsburgh radio show host who joked about hitting bicyclists with his car.

Today, we read in the Chicago Bicycle Advocate Blog about two young men who were convicted of hunting down bicyclists to hit with their car — while they were drunk.

Good thing they were convicted, you might think. But when you hear the sentences they received, you might be shocked:

The second man charged with intentionally hunting down and striking a bicyclist in Brookfield on May 31, 2009 has been sentenced to zero jail time. The driver, 20-year-old Erik Fabian, pled guilty to aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and leaving the scene of an accident.  He was sentenced to two years probation.  Fabian’s buddy, Armando Reza, was sentenced last week to 10 days in jail for the same incident, a seemingly light sentence that has outraged a good many Chicago bicyclists. According to the Chicago Breaking News Center, the two were drinking before deciding to drive around looking for bicyclists to hit. Both men were sentenced by Cook County Judge Carol Kipperman.

The Active Transportation Alliance, a Chicago bicycle advocacy group, has expressed outrage at the "insufficient sentences" given to the men. This morning the group started a letter-writing campaign directed at Cook County State’s Attorney, Anita Alvarez, and assistant state’s attorney, Mike Pattarozzi, to justify these negotiated sentences. According to the Alliance the crimes with which the men were charged were eligible for penalties of up to 2-5 years in jail.

According to a news story about the incident, the two men dared each other to commit the assaults. It was like a game to them — they even pulled over to switch seats so they could each get a chance to play. Fortunately, neither of the people they struck was seriously injured. But it’s not hard to imagine how differently it might have turned out.

And yet, in a culture where assault with a vehicle is routinely joked about, prosecutors are willing to cut offenders an easy deal.

More from around the network: Xing Columbus writes in praise of car-pooling. M-Bike.org has some news about more funding for the Underground Railroad bike route. And Atlanta Bicycle Coalition reports on a $5 million boost for a major bike trail in that city.