Should the state of Ohio get tougher on drunk drivers? ; ;Absolutely! ; ;Should the law be changed to make it a felony? ; ;Is murder a felony? ; ;How about attempted murder? ; ;When a person deliberately places his or her self in the drivers seat in an impaired condition that has resulted in as many deaths as have been caused by drunk drivers across this country, why should they not have to face the same consequences as any other individual attempting murder? ; ;We do not live in some dark age, unenlightened by reason. We know the results of drinking and driving and statistics show clearly that we are not doing enough to stop this deadly behavior.

At the same time, I believe we should also do more to see that the existing laws are fully enforced. Something is wrong with our enforcement policies when, in the same court, first offenders receive jail time and repeat offenders do not. Also, it is hard to understand why someone on disability would be given "work related" driving privileges after their second offense. Why should a chronic alcoholic, who cannot go 24 hours without alcohol, be given driving privileges? ; ;If we are going to eliminate or even reduce the high rate of casualties caused by drunk drivers, we must make every effort to remove them from the driver's seat.

Although the death rate caused by drunk drivers is in itself reason enough to "get tougher on drunk drivers" and make driving drunk a felony, there are still other reasons to consider. Alcoholism is a debilitating disease that seems to leave a wake of problems in it's path. Alcoholism has created dysfunctional families, spousal and/or child abuse, loss of jobs and/or income; the list goes on and on. The professionals who have studied this disease say that the alcoholic cannot be helped until they are "ready". That they will not change until they realize they have a problem and they do not reach this point until they "hit bottom." Sadly, treating these alcoholics with "kid gloves" enables them, cushioning them from the consequences of their actions and often encourages them to continue their deadly behavior. On the other hand, stricter legislation can force them to confront the consequences of their actions and speed that recovery. In other words, "getting tougher" will help both the alcoholic and their friends and family.

Finally, since we cannot count on legislation to solve our problems, I would like to recommend the Al-Anon program to anyone who has to deal with an alcoholic friend or family member. They do make a difference.

John C. Brooks


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