The Nassau district attorney wants the state to study, and presumably redesign, the roadways to help prevent wrong-way drivers ["DA to state: Help prevent wrong-way drivers," News, Nov. 23]. State Sen. Charles Fuschillo (R-Merrick) proposes a 30-day jail sentence for repeat DWI offenders ["Jail proposed for repeat DWI," News, Nov. 24]. While I think both are doing a good job overall, they missed the boat on this one.
Most wrong-way drivers are impaired. The real issue is how to stop them from driving while intoxicated. Many years ago, I'm told, Sweden had a drunken-driving epidemic. Its remedy was simple. Make the punishment so harsh that no one would dare drive drunk.
First-time offenders face a mandatory jail term. Repeat offenders, and first-time offenders who injure someone, face even stiffer penalties. Sweden no longer has a drunken-driving problem.
I suggest taking it one step further. Why should the taxpayer have to foot the bill for someone else's stupidity? Make the perpetrators pay for their incarceration. Take their car, savings, pension, even their house, as reimbursement for the cost of prison. Make it hurt them as much as it does the victims and their families.
Your columnist is completely off base ["Put anti-drunken driving devices in every new car," Opinion, Nov. 23].
Government statistics show that drivers who cause the majority of alcohol-impaired fatalities have extremely high blood-alcohol content - on average, more than twice the legal limit. Ignition interlock technology was developed to keep these chronic alcohol abusers off the road. But putting alcohol detectors in all cars would make all Americans guilty until proven innocent every time they tried to start their cars.
The universal application of alcohol detectors will translate into a de facto Prohibition. For myriad legal, liability and physiological reasons, these alcohol-detection devices will be set at levels low enough to prevent adults from having even one drink before driving. If this movement succeeds, it means the end to enjoying a glass of wine with dinner, a beer at a ballgame or a Champagne toast at a wedding if you plan on driving home.
Editor's note: The writer is the managing director of the American Beverage Institute.
Putting alcohol interlock devices in cars is something I have been advocating since the 1990s. However, I would go a little further.
I believe there should be a device that tests the driver against a norm that they set for themselves. Every time they get behind the wheel, they test. I am talking passenger cars, trucks, buses, airplanes and any other mode to come up.
If they fail, they are impaired - either drunk, drugged, medicated or medically unable to function properly. An impaired person has no right to be in control of a dangerous weapon. Many of the 50,000 or so annual deaths on our highways could be prevented.
It has become painfully obvious that people are unable to monitor their own imprudent and dangerous driving behavior. It is time for the automotive manufacturers to step up to the plate.
With the technology available today, drunk or impaired drivers should not be able to to start or drive their vehicles. For drivers with suspended licenses, a system should be employed where the license is inserted into the ignition and it would be read.
Of course, people would complain that their privacy is being violated.
John J. Daffara