Anyone who regularly uses the internet or watches the news is probably already aware of how powerful “viral” videos and photos can be, mostly because anyone with internet access can view them and share them with friends across the world. Rarely does a viral video become so powerful that it plays a large part in a DUI case — but that’s exactly what happened when 22-year-old Ohio resident Matthew Cordle uploaded a video online in which he confessed to causing an accident while intoxicated, which ultimately led to one man’s death.
The video was uploaded on September 3, 2013, although the crash itself occurred earlier that year, on June 22. A few days after being uploaded, the video went viral and police officers were knocking on Cordle’s door. Now, a little over one year has passed, and Cordle has released another video through the nonprofit organization “because i said i would,” describing his remorse for killing 61-year-old Vincent Canzani and his first year behind bars.
In addition to the six-and-a-half-year prison sentence, Cordle also received a lifetime suspension of his driver’s license. Cordle was very lucky in this respect; after the presiding judge read aloud two letters advocating for minimum sentencing — including one letter from Canzani’s ex-wife — the court appears to have taken Cordle’s remorse to heart. The fact that Cordle probably could have gotten away with the crime, but instead chose to take responsibility for his actions, is something that few DUI defendants choose to do.
At the time of his sentencing, Cordle offered Canzani’s family an apology and promised to do everything he could to keep Canzani’s memory alive and to educate other young adults about the dangers of drunk driving — and Cordle’s latest YouTube video certainly keeps that promise alive. Not only are people across the world taking time to remember Canzani’s untimely death, but they’re also listening to a valuable first-person account from a peer.
While Cordle’s case is rare, it proves that not every drunk driver is intentionally out to harm others. Even the most remorseful driver is likely to receive a punishment for driving while intoxicated, but actively encouraging others not to make the same mistake — as Cordle does in his latest video — is probably much more effective at preventing future DUI-related crashes than a simple prison sentence would be.
“While its always a tragedy when something like this happens, its always refreshing to see someone admit to their guilt and try to own up to what they did. At least we have evidence of the man who is apologizing and recognizing his situation instead of just lying,” says Zach Sierra, Office Manager at 4 Mr Ticket. “As for the video being affective, the social media has a huge affect on people today; we see more and more people basing their decisions off social media.”
Cordle certainly can’t take back his mistakes, but it’s becoming clear that he may be able to prevent countless DUI injuries through his videos. More than anything else, he’s showing Americans that even the most responsible people can make poor decisions — but that they can turn their mistakes into something good.