Get Serious on DUI
Posted by Warren Peterson on October 21, 2007
Justice Bobbie Bridge, King County Councilwoman Jane Hague, Seattle City Council Candidate Venus Velazquez, DUIs all, generate a few days of letters-to-the editor and talk radio indignation but then it passes until the next death or near tragedy. Why do we tolerate this crime that is responsible for the deaths of over 17,000 Americans a year? Is it that booze is just part of our culture and we have to accept the good with the bad, or the government needs the tax revenue from alcohol sales, or most people drink and may occasionally become impaired but only a small minority drive drunk or get arrested?
We didn’t seem to have a problem seriously restricting smoking when the health hazards became a proven fact. No smoking rules at work, on airplanes, in public buildings, restaurants, they have all gained public acceptance. There are even proposed laws to ban smoking in private apartments and condominiums. Obesity is the latest big health issue so out goes the soda pop and junk food at schools; no more trans fat at McDonald’s and we all pronounce that good.
Smoking and poor diet largely affect only the individual abuser but drunk drivers kill the innocent, thousands of them. Yes, we need more and earlier education regarding the dangers of alcohol. Yes, we need to provide rehab for the chronic alcoholic. But we also need to get tough on the social drinker who drives under the influence and then expects an apology, a not guilty plea and possibly a large fine to make it all better.
Some serious jail time, public humiliation working on a DUI chain gang, something is needed to get the public’s attention and make responsible behavior part of our culture too.