Saturday, April 26, 2008

Drunk Driving Prevention: Use Common Sense

Drunk driving is a terrible problem that is (and should be) a crime. But it can also be an honest mistake that all too easy to make, and current policies don't help the situation. Here are two common problems with common sense solutions that will go a LONG way to prevent drunk driving:

Problem 1: Lowering the legal limit only puts more drunk drivers on the road. Many drunk drivers honestly have no idea they were over the legal limit. I don't know of any bars equipped with a breathalyzer. I don't know anyone who owns a breathalyzer (or who knows where to get one). How can anyone know they are over the legal limit if they have no way of seeing what their blood/alcohol level is?

Solution: Breathalyzers need to be available so people can see for sure whether they are legally drunk or not. Either allow bars to install them, or help people get a breathalyzer installed in their car. Or instead of setting up checkpoints, have some officers go to bars and OFFER to let people take a breathalyzer (by choice), so people actually have a way to know for sure whether they are legally drunk or not BEFORE they get in their car.

Problem 2: Forcing bars to kick everyone out at 2am with no exceptions puts people in a sudden bind. Especially if they just finished their (last call) drink and they haven't felt the effects yet. That can easily lead to people honestly not realizing they're drunk until they are already on the road!

Solution: Allow bars to stay open longer but stop serving alcohol at 2am. That way if someone needs to sit for a while and sober up, they can do it in the bar instead of in their car. If the bar wants, it can also serve breakfast to customers so they can sober up and while waiting for their food and eating. That would let people have time to sober up AND it would let the bar make more money by giving its customers what they need. A win-win situation!

Conclusion: There are more changes that would help prevent drunk driving, but the two above would be a good start. Laws are necessary to define crimes and punishment, but should we really punish someone harshly if they honestly didn't know they were breaking the law? We have to make sure that people actually have a way to know if they are breaking the law, so they have the opportunity to do the right thing before it's too late.

Thomas Lessman
Website: http://www.thomaslessman.com/
. Blog: http://www.talessman.blogspot.com/
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