Several years ago, I read with interest an article about Anti-DWI devices
in several states being installed on vehicles of
convicted drunk drivers. On the surface it sounds
like a great idea and I must admit that at least
some politicians are trying to keep word on being
tougher regarding their state laws. At one level, it
seems like many new politicians want to do the
right thing in many instances.
But the anti-DWI device can be both a good and a
bad thing. First the good. America seems to be
finally addressing the problem of drunk drivers
and is willing to do something measurable and
punitive about them. I am sure (at least I hope)
the cost of installing this s-called “interlock
device” will be born by the offender, not the state,
and this alone may deter some people from
driving under the influence. But if people are
willing to kill other human beings for the sake of their next drink, paying for
the device is certainly not going to deter many. Next, there are finally some
codified rules determining punitive action against drunk drivers, no matter
how weak they still are. Well, this is about as good as it gets, folks. Now the
bad as I see it.
The device itself is a breathalyzer that requires the driver to blow into the
machine and if he/she is above a set limit, the car won’t start. Sounds good
to me, but what if the driver allows a sober buddy or his 10-year-old son to
blow into the machine? What if the offender simply drives his father’s car
and not the vehicle with the device in it? What if they are impaired by some
drug? Illegal or otherwise? Will the machine detect this? Is there some way
to ensure that cannot happen? If so – great; if not – not so great. From what
I have seen in the world of reality, there is no way to ensure these cannot not
According to one article I read, one law states that a first-time offender “who
injures someone, has a blood alcohol content at or above .15, refuses to
provide a blood alcohol content or has a child under 14 in the car” would be
required to have this interlock device installed in their car for a period of two
years after the completion of the 90-day suspension of their driver’s license.
The law then requires the person with a second conviction, no matter the circumstances
(i.e. her excuses), would require the device to be installed for another
two years after they got their license back. The third time offender
would get another three years blowing into the machine and every time after
that, the chronic drunk driver (at this point clearly an alcoholic) would be
partners with his machine for another 5 years.
You know, I get a tear in my eye thinking about how proactive our
law makers are. Their aggressiveness in doing the right thing makes me
proud. Okay, I’m lying. Too many politicians want us to believe they really
care what happens on our roads when I personally have my doubts. In a Robservation
I wrote several years ago, I discussed drunk driving in our country
and most of the numbers are quite staggering. I wrote:
“Between 1999 and 2008, approximately 154,755 people
died in alcohol related car accidents in this country.
Consistently, every year some 13,500 to 16,500 people are
killed on our highways by drunks. At the low end of that
figure, this equates to 1125 drunk driving deaths per
month or 35 per day. Annually, another 700,000 people
are injured by drunks behind the wheel of a car. For
more perspective, America has suffered close to 650,000
deaths from WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam. During
that same period of time, over 1.7 million people were
killed from alcohol related driving accidents. In 1999,
approximately 1.5 million drivers were arrested for DUI
from either alcohol or narcotics which equates to an
arrest rate of 1 for every 121 licensed drivers in the US.
Here’s the point. Although many of our lawmakers
want to make it seem as though they
care, where is the real, in-your-face-better-notdo-
it-again-or-else punitive action against
these offenders? Especially the repeat offender.
The law itself sadly provides encouragement
for the guy who is convicted of drunk
driving 4 or more times. Are you
kidding me? Four times convicted of aiming
your car down the street as a 2-ton missile,
possibly killing innocent people, and you still
have a license?
Ecclesiastes 8:11 states, “Because the
sentence against an evil deed is not executed
quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of
men among them are given fully to do evil.”
In other words, what incentive is there to
change their behavior when many know there
is little that is going to happen to them if they get caught DWI/DUI? Oh not
to worry, the state takes their licenses away but often
generously gives them back just so they can repeat the process again and
again. And we are supposed to be okay with this?
In a previous column, I also mentioned the two America West pilots
who were convicted of flying drunk in 2005 and one was sentenced to five
years in prison while the other one got two and one-half years. People loved
this story and cheered at their punishment. “They deserved it.” “They could
have killed a hundred people.” Yeah, but nobody got hurt and although I am
not condemning their punishment, looking at the previous statistics tells me a
lot more people
driving need equal or more serious punishment. All I am saying is that drunk
drivers should get the same penalty as these two pilots. Change my mind!
So why do we continually let drunk drivers off the proverbial hook? Where
no major airline crash in the US has been attributed to drunk pilots, our roads
and highways are a war zone every year with the carnage, death and
destruction wrought by drunk drivers. I believe this anti-DWI device looks
good on the surface, probably makes the law makers feel good about
themselves while they are counting their pay raises but still really does little
as far as I am concerned. Well I guess it gives money to the company making
the devices and the state for all the court fees associated with the repeat
offenders. At least somebody benefits from this; not the dead and maimed
citizens laying dead on our roads.
Well, Governor Tate, what would you recommend? I’m glad you asked.
First time offender, nobody injured or killed: Loss of license for six months,
a fine of some kind, community service, alcohol rehab classes, the
interlock device on your car for life. Questions? First time offender who
injures someone: Loss of license for one year and all the other punishments
stated earlier. First time offender who kills someone or a second time
offender: Loss of license for life, jail time and shut up, I don’t want to hear
it. Done. Did you notice there are no third, fourth, fifth, sixth times here?
People, I am sick of hearing the bellyaching about how unfair it would be to
punish drunk drivers.
I think people still forget that DRIVING IS NOT A RIGHT, IT IS A PRIVELAGE.
You do not have a right to drive a car folks. Sorry but you don’t.
Either you abide by the rules or buy a bike, start walking, ride a horse or
whatever. I don’t care but you are not driving on my roads. Deal with it. I
really wish our lawmakers would get the “clue bird” to land on their
shoulders. But like I mentioned in a previous Robservation, I am willing to
bet you a dollar that the reason so many law makers and judges avoid stiff
penalties for DWI, not to mention the alcohol lobby that would likely fight
hard against such stiff punishments, is because many of them are perpetual
offenders themselves. Do you really think they are going to risk putting
themselves in jail for their own boorish behavior? I didn’t think so.