Drunk driver sentenced to 18 years in prison in death of woman, baby

The drunk driver who killed a mother and 3-month-old baby back in 2018 has been sentenced to 18 years in prison.

Veronica Rivas pleaded guilty to intoxication manslaughter last month in the deaths of Shayla Joseph and her son on the Gulf Freeway after a night of underage drinking at a Clear Lake bar.

Rivas blew a blood alcohol level of .21, which is almost three times the legal limit.

Two men and a bartender at the bar have also been charged.

This case has since become a model for how law enforcement handles drunk driving incidents by holding the restaurants and bars accountable. 

Today, the victim's relatives read victim's impact statements.

"It's hard. She deserved so much better than that. She was a beautiful child and a life lost for nothing." Mertis Edwards said in between heavy sobs.

She and other family members had just watched Rivas get sentenced for killing her daughter and her grandson.

It was February 2018, when Rivas and a friend had been drinking hard at a Clear Lake bar. Rivas was behind the wheel as they drove down the Gulf Freeway Feeder road and slammed into Shayla Joseph's car. She and her three month old son and Braylen died at the scene.

READ MORE: Woman and baby killed in crash with suspected drunk driver

Her husband's best friend recalled getting the awful phone call.

"They're dead. My family is dead. My whole entire family is gone." Noah Hennigan remembered.

That kind of blow could destroy most people, but not Bryan Joseph.

Joseph thinks the punishment is too light. Rather than rage against the system, he wants to change it.

"Yeah, yeah it is light. The thing is under current law it's a respectable sentence. Under the current law. That's why my goal now is to move forward and try to get the laws changed." Joseph told reporters after the sentencing.

Change them and make the punishments far more severe as a deterrent.

Towards that end, Joseph has started a YouTube channel showing how this tragedy upended his life. He shows wedding photos, tours his home and shows unworn baby clothing from Braylen's closet, some with the tags still on.

He wants to speak for those like Shayla and Braylen whose voices have been silenced by a drunk driver and to prevent any more families from feeling grief like theirs.