Booze It and Lose It numbers show need for tougher DWI laws

By John Peters

September 16, 2013

State law enforcement officials have been trumpeting the results of their latest Booze It and Lose It campaign, a coordinated effort to target those driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.

The most recent such campaign was Aug. 16 - Sept. 2, and included the Labor Day weekend because such holidays are often times when more drunk drivers are on the road.

Across the state nearly 2,900 people were arrested for drunken driving, along with more than 29,000 speeding citations, 3,185 drugs charges and more than 2,900 fugitives from justice charges.

The most troubling, though, is the number of drunk drivers. Some localities reported twice as many DWI arrests this year as during the same period in 2012. Part of this, no doubt, is because of stronger enforcement efforts. However, that number is too high, especially when one considers that a drunk driver is putting others at risk on the state highways.

And statistics show that many folks who are arrested for drunken driving have taken part in this dangerous behavior before, and will do so again even if the offender’s license is suspended.

State law makers should make penalties for drunken driving much harsher. We would suggest 30-day impounding of the vehicle used in the offense, and maybe even mandatory home confinement and electronic monitoring on a first offense, along with mandatory jail time on a second offense.

We also believe after a first offense, the guilty party should be forced to pay for the installation of a breathalyzer on his or her vehicle. These machines require a breath test each time the offender attempts to start the vehicle, and if there is an unacceptable alcohol content detected, the vehicle won’t start.

These may seem like harsh measures, and if drinking and driving only endangered the person doing the drinking, maybe they would be overly harsh. But when someone drinks and drives, they put too many people at serious risk, all because one person is either too self-centered to care about others on the highways, or they lack basic common-sense discipline.

Either way, they’ve proven themselves to be public dangers, and state code should be toughened to attempt to take those folks off the road.