Recently, I pled no contest, not guilty to one count of Driving Under the Influence, which happened almost a month before I was involved in a head-on car accidentas a victim, not a drunk driver. This, a serious charge, has gotten an ill review by some of you in the public, due to the fact that I, along with a friend, Meagan Morning, am trying to start a program that will fight DUIs.

I made this decision while confident that my lawyer, who is very good at what he does, could have gotten me off on all charges. This decision was all mine. It was made to protect certain aspectsthat I can not disclose at this time due to legal mattersof an upcoming trial. To protect my dreams of becoming a peace officer, I do not look at myself as a hypocrite or a liar, and would not try to hide anything from you, the public.

Do we praise someone who has done wrong, but is now doing something good in society? I know I do. For example, a reformed drug addict might speak out against drugs, an alcoholic against alcohol or an accused woman-beater against domestic violence. All of these are people who have done wrong and are not seen as perfect people of society, but are looked on as someone's peer, someone's hero. Or do we rather look on them as still being the same person they were before?

I am trying to fight drunk driving for multiple reasons, one being the obvious: I lost my younger sister Jackie Gippert and best friend Grant Newton at the hands of an alleged drunk driver. The accident also left my two nephews injured and without a mother. I, too, was injured, and have to deal with the aftermath of being a victim of drunk driving as does the rest of my family.

Now I am obligated to ask a couple of questions of the public. What if, instead of me, it were you? What would you do if you lost two people you dearly cared fora mother, father, sister, brother, child or best friendand later discovered that there was no one in your community trying to prevent this from happening, other than law enforcement.

Law enforcement, I might add, is doing a great job with what money it was given in trying to prevent this from happening to anyone else.

I would like to say that I am a man who doesn't hate another man, but hates another man's actions. We must all be held accountable for our actions.

I would like to say one thing to Michael Ehrhardt, the other man involved in the accident that killed my sister and friend: I do not hate you. In fact, I feel very sorry for you. You are more than likely a good man, despite your situation, and have people that love and care for you. I know that you are not a monster as some people would say in certain social circles, one of which exists in our community.

I would like to defend you by saying that you are a man who made a bad decision and has received an ill reaction from the public, but you still are a man nonetheless. Redemption can never come too late, and when you decide to acknowledge and claim accountability for your actions, then and only then, will I forgive you.

Rollie Gippert III is a resident of Crescent City.