Stephen Mager

Well, the voting results are in and Nevada is now a legal recreational marijuana state.  I am worried.  We have seen an increase in DUI deaths in our county.  I know that many of the people that have fought against DUI and marijuana legalization are tired and discouraged.  We did have a conversation with the Washoe County DA and he assured us that he is using our 2 ng/ml THC per se DUI law as intended successfully.

My son was 14 years old when I found a pipe and remnants of marijuana in his bedroom.  I used juvenile serves and the juvenile court system to make my son accountable for his decisions.  He had completed a 6-week residential drug rehab program and had maintained several months of sobriety when he was killed.  Unfortunately, during a meeting between the Assistant Director of Juvenile Services and my husband, my husband was told that my son should not have gotten into the car.  Juvenile Services felt Stephen bore some responsibility for his death.  Stephen was a passenger, he was sober and because he died we do not know if he knew the driver was high.  The driver served a seven-month sentence in juvenile corrections for his crime, and was not allowed to have a driver license until his 22nd birthday.

I tell our story because I want teens to understand there are consequences to their actions.  It hurt us to hear juvenile services mitigating the driver’s many poor decisions with one decision my son made to get into the car.  That Assistant Director, unintentionally perhaps, inflicted more pain on a terrible tragedy.

You told me that my story might give strength to others.  I’m not sure.  I have read the other stories on your page.  My story is different because we knew the driver. The boys grew up together.  There was a big difference in parenting but can I say things would have been different if the roles had been switched?  How my life might have been different if they were?  I don’t know.

I wrote letters to our legislators in Dec. 1997 after Stephen’s death, because of another case that we observed, where a young 15yr-old boy standing outside of a disabled car was hit by a driver with THC in his blood. That driver walked out of the courtroom with nothing but probation.  As a result of our effort, and with the support of others, Nevada passed a tough drugged driving law that set per se limits for many drugs, including a 2 ng/ml limit for marijuana’s THC.

Many people are absolutely innocent of contributing to their deaths.  The courts and law enforcement need to recognize that innocent people are paying the price for others’ reckless decisions.