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Victims of impaired drivers are ones in a 'downward spiral'

Posted: August 26, 2011 - 9:56am

I am writing in response to “Broken System” (Clarion, Aug. 21), an article referencing the increased activity on behalf of our law enforcement staff in attempting to remove drunk drivers from our roads. Specifically, I would like to comment on the views of our public defender, William Taylor.

Mr. Taylor condemns our society with taking “more interest in punishing people after the fact, rather than implementing infrastructure to keep the problem from manifesting itself to begin with.” I question this rationale. Who amongst us feels that we are out to ‘get’ drunk drivers for the sake of doing it or simply to punish them? As a society, we take an interest in this, Mr. Taylor, in the same way we, as a society, take an interest in punishing child abusers, sexual offenders and murderers. We do it to protect the innocent from harm, and, in this circumstance, we do it simply to remove them from the road. Drunk drivers kill and injure innocent people with their actions, and it is not, nor should it be, a minor offense. It should not be easy to get back behind the wheel.

The downstream effects of what it takes the convicted DUI offender to get their lives back into order, yes, are significant, however, they are insignificant with respect to the damage they inflict on those they affect through their actions. In truth, this is no more complicated than a childhood lesson, taking responsibility for your actions. If a child is told not to play baseball in the yard, but does so anyway, and accidentally breaks a window, the child should pay for the window. The child learns the consequences of their actions, and has to accept the result. In this case, however, the breaking of the window is accidental, and in the large majority of DUI cases, I would argue, are not accidental. This is a voluntary choice; a bad one, but nonetheless a choice and a path they must choose to take. There are consequences for our choices.

Drunk drivers, in addition to the expenses they incur themselves by choosing to break the law, increase our automobile insurance premiums (through disproportionate claims related to accidents, etc). Their behavior causes increases in our taxes (to fund programs such as overtime for our dedicated Police Department and Troopers to be on the road removing such offenders or in Mr. Taylor’s suggestion, funding a public transportation system to carry intoxicated persons to and from their preferred watering hole). In the worst time possible, drunk driving ultimately increases our health care costs (running up huge medical bills related to injuries sustained driving intoxicated).

In addition, drunk drivers inflict immeasurable damage on innocent individuals who frequently are injured in a life threatening manner, injured in a life changing manner (such as paraplegia, resulting in permanent nursing home placement), or lose their lives through the actions of the intoxicated. This, however, pales in comparison to the often unseen emotional and spiritual harm that this type of behavior inflicts on affected families.

If Mr. Taylor wishes to see a real downward spiral, I suggest he look into the eyes of a family that lost their loved one through the actions of a drunk driver, and witness them work their way through shock, denial, pain, anger, grief and depression. I suggest he see how they attempt to carry on with their lives, pay their rent, keep their car, obtain their medicine, mend their broken hearts, or a myriad of other, often not witnessed effects that drunk driving carries into the lives of those affected. He should cry with a family as they learn they lost their child to a drunk driver. He should see them in the Emergency Room, late at night, months and even years afterwards, in a hopeless state as they struggle with addiction, struggle to cope, and attempt to carry on with a huge, gaping hole in their lives. I promise his sympathy towards those who break the law would wane, as I hope his efforts in providing them avenues to enable their behavior would.

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nerraw7
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nerraw7 08/26/11 - 04:31 pm
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drunk drivers

AMEN to this! Accountability for one's actions - what this country needs not excuses blaming others!

drudge
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drudge 08/26/11 - 04:44 pm
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@nerraw7

Careful now, you're in America.. having ideas like that will get you labeled as a rebel and a traitor.

mike polocz
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mike polocz 08/27/11 - 09:01 am
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One year ago I made a very

One year ago I made a very bad decision and drove after having a few beers after work. I fell asleep at the wheel and was involved in an accident. Luckily the victim was not seriously injured,however it could have been much worse the two victims could have easily been killed.Not a day goes by that I do not replay the events of that day in my mind. I caused so much pain to not only the victims, but my family and employer as well. There is no blame other than on myself. These were my decisions, my actions,the consequences however affected many people. The victim with mental and physical trauma,my employer went out of bus. the loss of my job, and home just to name a few. I am truly sorry for the pain I caused the victims,my employer, and family. The legal consequences for my actions were plead guilty to dwi and felony assault and spend ten days in jail. In my opinion, if I were the victim this is totally inadequate.
The solution to this never ending cycle is simple. Drunks will always drive drunk due to the fact that they are incapable of making rational decisions, so all the harsh punishment in the world will not eliminate this issue. The technology exists to make all new vehicles equipped with sensors in the steering wheel that measure B.A.C. the fact that this is not mandated into law is simple. D.U.I. and D.W.I. is a money making machine that employs hundreds of thousands of people.
This to me is unacceptable it is time we as a society say enough is enough. If all new vehicles were equipped with sensors that do not allow you to drive when your B.AC. is over 0.8 this problem is solved in 10 years.

drudge
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drudge 08/27/11 - 09:29 am
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begging for Big Brother

"If all new vehicles were equipped with sensors that do not allow you to drive when your B.AC. is over 0.8 this problem is solved in 10 years."

So... the entire population has to submit to these tests all the time? Personally, I don't like the idea of a Nanny State: "If you're not doing anything wrong, then you have nothing to hide."

How long would it be until people modify and bypass the sensors? Would doing so enact stronger methods of monitoring?

How long until there are laws enacted that provide exempt status for those in positions of power and influence?

Enforcement and Punishment only goes so far. As history has shown us, it will never stop 100% of the crime. People worldwide are still committing crimes that are punished by death, despite thousands of years worth of laws, punishment, and indoctrination.

Education and a society that actually values Personal Responsibility... that's what we need.

mike polocz
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mike polocz 08/27/11 - 09:46 am
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The point I am trying to make

The point I am trying to make is that when a person is drunk they are incapable of always making a rational decision. This is fact. With that being said, such a device will saves thousands of lives. Keep in mind that impaired drivers are many times hard working good citizens that make a poor decision to drive after drinking. If you have nothing to hide such a device does not effect you at all. If you tamper with it or disable it that is when a harsh punishment should be enforced.
I do not see us giving up any of our constitutional rights with this. Or am I missing something ?

keeneye
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keeneye 08/27/11 - 11:33 am
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A. Warren, you sound like a

A. Warren, you sound like a voice of reason. Well said!

MP, thanks for your honesty. Thankfully, you do not have the ultimate consequence on your conscious. I hope others will benefit from your testimony.

My Grandmother was hit by a drunk driver while pregnant with what would have been her 11th child.

Have they stopped showing what impaired driving can do in High School Drivers Ed.? Do they still have Drivers Ed.? If not, I see more value in having D.E. in school than a "public" drunk shuttle.

midnightalaskan
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midnightalaskan 08/27/11 - 01:54 pm
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Alcoholism

Alcoholism is a disease. This is what no one seems to understand. The laws are not going to make the disease go away. The person has to want to change their life. Punishing them is not going to make them realize they need help, it just makes them angry at the system.

drudge
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drudge 08/29/11 - 09:13 am
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@mike polocz

"If you have nothing to hide such a device does not effect you at all."

Sure it does.. You have to activate it every time you start your vehicle. Quick stop at the post office? Blow into the tube. Stalled at a stop sign? Blow into the tube.

It wouldn't be a week before people would disable or tamper with the device. So then you'd need a device to monitor the B.A.C. device for tampering. It would turn into a game of cat-and-mouse. In the game of Big Brother, no matter who wins, we citizens will lose.

"I do not see us giving up any of our constitutional rights with this."

I believe your idea would fall under "Unreasonable Search & Seizure." Would you be OK with the Police showing up at your door unannounced, entering your home uninvited, (even when you're not home) and searching through your stuff? No warrant, no 'reasonable suspicion', just because they felt like it. "If you've done nothing wrong, then you have nothing to hide."

You stated that you've made a mistake involving alcohol, and now you're dealing with those consequences...

"There is no blame other than on myself."

Then why do you think that everybody needs to blow into a tube to start their car? Trying to push your punishment onto innocent people is a sign that you aren't truly sorry for your actions.

mike polocz
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mike polocz 08/29/11 - 02:18 pm
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Missing the point

The device is a sensor in the steering wheel. There are already these devices used to monitor people who are on house arrest, they are strapped to their ankles. They constantly monitor B.A.C.

My point is. This prevents the average citizen from making the same mistake I did. An idea that would save thousands of lives a year. The only people not wanting this are the ones who habitually drive drunk.

Not am I truly sorry for my actions, but disappointed that people would rather allow this to continue.

drudge
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drudge 08/29/11 - 03:01 pm
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Re: Missing the point

I'm going to have to say that you're the one missing the point here.

These devices are used to prevent people (who have already proven that they're not responsible adults) from driving under the influence again. Having those devices become standard for all drivers, regardless of their past actions, is an invasion of privacy and a breach of our human rights. It's punishing the majority for the actions of a few.

It's ideas like this (across-the-board surveillance) that are paving the way to a dystopian society, where citizens will be arrested and imprisoned based on assumptions of what they might do.

If you can't make logical, rational decisions while under the influence, you shouldn't be drinking at all. Don't forget that alcohol is a drug. Just because it's legal doesn't mean it's safe.

The best prevention is knowledge and education. When people are fully aware of their actions and how they affect others, when people actually value personal responsibility... that is when we will see a marked decrease in drunk drivers.

soldotna
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soldotna 09/01/11 - 12:56 pm
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You don't have to be 0.8 to get a DUI

the police use this tatic fairly often. The troopers know more then likely they will loose this case in court but it does not matter because even after that you will still have to fight DMV to keep you drivers license.

I was with a girl that got hauled off to jail in pretty much ruined her life for 18 months and she only blew a .04 the troopers never let her know what she blew for 4 days. IMO its the trooper that should have been taken to jail for putting her though that.

The whole system is broken any ways. The Police use to be protect and serve. Now they are in the business of making money to get more to get more things for their business.

jlmh
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jlmh 09/01/11 - 01:06 pm
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Whoa, that'd be pretty high

You don't have to be a 0.8 to get a DUI, but if you DO have a 0.8, it must have been determined from a blood test. Because there's no way you were breathing. That's 10 times the legal limit of 0.08, by the way.

Also, you do not necessarily have to register a BAC of 0.08 or greater to be convicted of a DUI. That's just enough to guarantee a criminal charge. Any one whose driving is impaired due to any level of toxicity is breaking the law. And of course any BAC above 0.0 is illegal for a minor. (You didn't say how old the girl in your example was.)

justme
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justme 12/04/12 - 10:02 pm
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:)...its be nice

:)...its be nice

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