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Letters: Crack down harder on drunk driving?

Long Islanders registered 3 percent more new cars

Long Islanders registered 3 percent more new cars and trucks in September than a year earlier, a new report shows. Credit: iStock

Newsday's recent editorial correctly insists the United States can do more to combat drunken driving, but requiring new cars to come preinstalled with interlocks is a poorly targeted and misguided solution ["Anti-DWI gear in all new cars," July 21].

Interlocks measure blood-alcohol concentration using deep-lung breath samples. They are intrusive, expensive, unreliable and require regular maintenance. Furthermore, these interlocks are set far below the legal limit, often at zero. That's why interlocks are typically reserved for hard-core DWI offenders.

The federal government and automakers are working to develop passive alcohol sensors with the ultimate goal of installing them in every new vehicle. But this technology is still five to eight years from completion, and even if the devices are manufactured to the highest standards, operating correctly 99.99 percent of the time, they will malfunction an estimated 4,000 times per day.

Additionally, for liability reasons, the sensors would likely be set far below the legal limit -- a fact the former head of the sensors research program has conceded. Such a low threshold could preclude adults from having just one or two drinks before driving.

Current interlocks, as well as more advanced alcohol-sensing technology, should only be used to target high blood-alcohol concentration and repeat offenders, who cause more than 70 percent of all drunken driving accidents, not to treat everyone like criminals every time they turn the ignition key.

Sarah Longwell, Washington

Editor's note: The writer is the managing director of the American Beverage Institute, a trade association.

Newsday reported a shocking story of a beautiful family killed by a drunken driver ["Grieving mom: 'In my heart, forever,' " News, July 15].

A man and his two young children were killed after their car was rear-ended by an allegedly impaired driver who fled the scene. The wife and mother of the victims survived but witnessed the fiery deaths of her husband and children.

Now, Newsday has reported another horrific story involving the deaths of innocent people ["North Fork limo crash," News, July 20]. A group of women hired a limousine, but the vehicle was hit by a pickup truck operated by a man alleged to have been drunk. The result: the deaths of four women, and injuries to the driver and other members in the party.

When will our state and federal politicians show real leadership and mandate ignition lock systems on all vehicles? Or are they going to continue to bow to special-interest groups and continue their failed policies of arrests, penalties and incarceration -- at great public expense -- after a driver has injured or killed someone?

Marion Grobe, Plandome Manor

I'm so infuriated at the alleged actions of Demetri Stewart, the second suspect in the July 12 crash on the Southern State Parkway that killed three members of a Queens family, and the attitude of his attorney ["2nd arrest in crash," News, July 15]. I'm not sure who deserves a harsher punishment.

Lawyer Gregory Nanton said his client was a "good Samaritan," trying to help his friend, primary crash suspect Oneil Sharpe Jr., by removing him from the scene. Nanton should be ashamed! In which version of the story does the Samaritan abandon the wounded man by the side of the road and take the robbers on a trip to escape justice?

The angels are weeping for the Ostane family.

Kathleen Ledford, Yaphank