Clear Fog Blog

Political musings from Warren E. Peterson

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.


2 Responses to “Get Serious on DUI”

  1. Lisa Bailey said

    My father, Earl, always has lots of practial advice. Ususally there is a long story to go along with it. I remember though, when it came to drinking and driving all he said was, “That’s just dumb.” Gosh, it occurred to me that Dad is right and it is indeed really, really dumb.

    Driving while intoxicated shows a terrible lack of responsibility, is extremely dangerous and the consequences (death) far out-weigh any reasoning or rationalizing to do it.

    Over in Germany and most of Europe there is *zero* tollerence for DWI, yet having a drink during breakfast, lunch and dinner (yes, I’ve often seen people having a beer at 9 am on their morning train commute) is part of accepted culture.

    There are a few reasons for this.
    1) In Europe they actually enforce DWI penalties, like taking away their license and not letting them drive! I think they will even confiscate your car. There is a serious shame factor among everyone that finds out. “You, you were dumb enough to risk driving while intoxicated?!”

    2) Another reason is not socially acceptable to get trashed in Europe. Yes, some people still do, but they are glared at buy the other pub goers for just being dumb.

    3) Ususally pubs are local so they can walk home or they can take public transportation.

    So, tomorrow I will go to the Young Republican’s mohthly Happy Hour,, remember the Germans, will have one drink over the course of an hour and a half and then scoot home.


  2. WCTU said

    My concern is not with Bridge, Hague, and Velazquez who tested 0.1X, but with the repeat offenders who test 0.2x and above, are repeatedly cited, and the State does very little.

    Reducing the DUI test to 0.08 from 0.10 was a Seattle feel good measure that failed to address the chronic DUIs (as evidenced by the articles in the Times and PI)

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