The people's voice of reason

ANTI-DWI DEVICES: BOTH GOOD AND BAD

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

happen.

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.

 

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