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Irvine Man Found Guilty of Murder while Driving Drunk

Austin Jeffrey Farley, a 28-year-old Irvine man, was found guilty on Monday of second-degree murder of then-14-year-old Ashton Sweet. Check out the Daily Pilot story here.

It is incredibly sad and tragic that Ashton’s precious life was lost – an innocent young girl is unable to graduate high school, fulfill her dream of going to culinary school, get married and so on. It’s also tragic that her parents and family have to grieve the loss of a child whom they thought had her whole life ahead of her.

But it’s also sad that a young man like Austin Farley would ruin his entire future by making the decision to get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol.

We at Safety First continue our plea to all Irvine and Orange County drivers: PLEASE, do not drink and drive. There is no shortage of education out there about the risks of drunk driving, and so many potential consequences of drunk driving, such as:

  • arrest
  • DUI conviction
  • fines
  • suspended driver’s license
  • community service
  • AA meetings
  • probation
  • jail time
  • your life and the lives of others
  • ruining your future

…not to mention plenty of resources for people who drink and need a ride home:

So with all that’s out there, why do people still drink and drive?

It’s a frustrating question. But drunk driving still continues to happen. Here are some potential reasons why people continue to drink and drive:

Inconvenience. I’m not really drunk, just buzzed…so I’m not going to go through the hassle of getting a cab. I don’t have far to go anyway.

Underestimating your level of intoxication. I’m fine, I can make it home with no problem. 

Denial of one’s alcoholism. I do not have a drinking problem. I’m in complete control of myself. I just like to have a little fun – there’s nothing wrong with that.

Parents don’t teach/model/expect self-control, moderation, or responsibility. This should be especially convicting for all parents. YOU are your child’s greatest teacher.

What are some possible solutions?

It’s up for debate whether the Designated Driver or “Drink Responsibly” campaigns have actually been successful, so here are some other thoughts on ways to reduce the number of people who drink and drive:

Ignition Interlock Devices. You can’t start your car until you blow under .08% BAC. If you know you have a tendency to drink too much, and/or you don’t trust yourself not to get behind the wheel after drinking, then do the right thing and install one of these gadgets in your car. They’re a little pricey ($70-150 to install and $60-80 per month to maintain), but hey – if they save a life, it’s totally worth it, right?

Lower the legal limit. Making the legal limit less than .08% BAC might make people think twice before getting behind the wheel after a couple drinks.

More rigorous enforcement. Security checkpoints, pulling people over, having the police stationed nearby local bars and nightclubs on weekends, etc.

Stop drinking. If you don’t drink, you can’t drive drunk.

Please spread the word so that more precious lives like Ashton Sweet’s aren’t robbed by a bad decision. And let people know that one bad decision could ruin the rest of their lives. It is not worth it.

Help us make Orange County a better place – one safe driver at at time.

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