Drunk Driver Pays A High Price

An East Texan who chose to drink and drive, now faces 18 years in prison for intoxicated manslaughter and intoxicated assault.

James Curtis Shanks (38) left the 7th District Court with that sentence Tuesday morning. Shanks pled guilty to both charges earlier this year.

Shank's life took its tragic turn on January 28, 2002. That night, while under the influence of alcohol, Shanks drove South on Highway 69 toward Lindale and crashed into a northbound vehicle. Betty Shanks (45) a passenger in the other car was killed--her husband John survived.

"I don't have any ill feelings toward him," said John after the sentencing. "I think it was the alcohol that did this. I hope this rehabilitates him and that he'll be able to continue with his family."

"We do feel compassion towards people in that situation," added Jill Tanner, the victims daughter. "But at the same time, my mother--the light of my father's life, the anchor of my family is gone, because he made a decision that was completely preventable."

Shanks has no prior felony convictions, but prosecutors told the court the severity of the wreck warranted strict punishment. Escorted by a guard, Shanks left the courtroom in tears.

"His alcohol concentration level was almost three times the legal limit," said Assistant District Attorney Scott Rosekrans. "So this is not an accident, he voluntarily drank that much alcohol and he voluntarily got on the road."

Shanks will not be eligible for parole until 2012.