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Letters: Get tougher on intoxicated drivers

Two days after graduating from high school, Brittney

Two days after graduating from high school, Brittney Walsh was killed in a car accident on Montauk Highway in Lindenhurst on June 25, 2012. Credit: Handout

After reading the suggestions about how we can punish drunken drivers who murder our neighbors, I am perplexed ["How many more?" Letters, July 2]. What is needed, more than anything else, is a way to prevent the next tragedy. I have five children, and I'm sickened every time I read about another child dying. The solution must be drastic.

I would like to see the day come when keys to vehicles were turned in upon entering an establishment that serves alcohol. Then, when a patron goes to leave, if his or her behavior is questionable, an actual Breathalyzer test should be administered at the door. If the patron exceeds the legal limit, no keys would be returned. Instead, a cab would be called and the patron would have to retrieve the keys the following day.

Too drastic? I bet if these bar and club owners knew that their children might be killed that evening, they might see it differently.

It is true that many people buy alcohol and drink at home. But most of them fall asleep at home, not behind the wheel.

Debbie Carbone, Centerport

A crime that is receiving too little attention, in contrast to drunken driving, is driving under the influence of drugs. The drugs include marijuana, crack, cocaine, heroin, other opiates, prescription drugs, crystal methamphetamines, LSD, ecstasy and any other drug that affects the brain.

The public concept may be that drugged driving arrests are included in DWI statistics, but police officers are poorly trained to deal with drugged driving, and there are very few arrests for it.

An obstacle to conviction for drugged driving is that testing requires blood or urine, not a Breathalyzer test. That obstacle can be overcome with a court order, which is not hard to obtain if a police officer can convince a judge of the need.

We are sleepwalking when it comes to drugged driving. There are probably more drugged drivers out there than drunk ones.

Steve Donnelly, New Hyde Park

Editor's note: The writer is a retired New York City Police Department captain and a defensive driving instructor.