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Argument with girlfriend and drinking while driving causes accident

The District Court this week sentenced Jack Banse to serve 41-days at the Territorial Correctional Facility for driving a pickup truck that flipped in Iliili in August this year causing injuries to others, including a young passenger.

Under a plea agreement with the government last month, Banse pled guilty to felony driving under the influence of alcohol causing bodily injuries to another person while the  misdemeanor charges of underage drinking, careless driving, and driving without a license were dismissed.

During sentencing District Court Judge John Ward II said Banse took the license plate of one vehicle and used it for another, which was a pickup truck not allowed on the highway, and he then drove this pick up with other people while intoxicated.

An argument between Banse and his girlfriend inside the vehicle, which was already on the road, prompted the defendant to drive fast,causing the accident that injured others including Banse, said Ward.

The judge told Banse that it was lucky no one died from this accident due to his carelessness — and if someone had died, the defendant would be waking up every day behind bars for the rest of his life thinking about the accident.

Ward told the defendant that the sentence handed down by the court should be a learning lesson for the young man, who made his own decision that day to operate the vehicle without adult supervision. He said the court will now step in to help the young man change his life for the better.

Banse was placed on five years probation under the condition he serves 41 days behind bars, does not violate any laws, and attends and completes all alcohol counseling classes. It was revealed in court that the defendant didn’t complete high school and Ward ordered Banse to attend the GED program at the American Samoa Community College to get his diploma, which will assist him in getting a job in the future.

Samoa News reporters Ausage Fausia and Fili Sagapolutele contributed to this report.