Vermont Town Tries New Solution to Curb Drunk Driving
> 12/27/2006 10:01:11 AM

Typically, there is a rise in drunk driving related fatalities around the holidays. People, even those who would usually never drink and drive, travel to spend time with loved ones and friends, have a few drinks and hop back in the car. No one ever questions those glasses of wine with Christmas dinner or champagne toasts on New Years Eve, but they can prove a fatal mix when drinkers get behind the wheel of a car.

The spike in holiday related drinking deaths is one of the reasons that one Vermont town decided to make some changes in the run up to the New Years Eve celebrations. In Bennington, VT, the local police department has distributed pint glasses emblazoned with the police department logo to bars and restaurants in the area. The idea being that if patrons decide to drink, they will be confronted with the police logo and it will serve as a simple, but hopefully potent, reminder of not only the law, but the dangers of drinking and driving. As the NYT reports, the glasses have even become something of a novelty with customers requesting specifically to drink from one of the glasses.

There has been a distinct change in our country with regards to drinking and driving since the 1980s, much of which can be attributed to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and their actions to change laws and public perceptions. While there were 26,173 alcohol related driving fatalities in 1982, that number dropped to 16,694 in 2004, a decline of over 36%. Looking at the statistics though, one can see that most of that decrease was attained by the early 90s and there has been little headway made since. More recent years have actually seen slight increases in alcohol related deaths. It would appear that we've reached something of a breaking point in the fight against drunk driving. While MADD's tactics have been incredibly successful, to see more gains in stopping drunk driving we're going to need more creative solutions at more local levels. This action in Bennington is an excellent example of one way that local leaders can take a stand. By keeping the legal and potentially fatal ramifications of drunk driving on the minds of drinkers when they are most vulnerable to engaging in this risky behavior, we can not only alter those drinkers behaviors, but also save their lives.


The Answer to the Problem of Drunk Driving, etc. by Bruce Alm The answer to the problem of drunk driving, etc. could be this; a permit for the purchase and consumption of alcohol beverages.This would not only be a major assault on the problem of drunk driving, but would also have an effect on virtually all other crimes such as these;murder, rape, assault, burglary, robbery, suicide, vandalism, wife beating, child beating, child molestation, the spread of aids, animal cruelty, etc., the list is endless.If this proposition was made law, there could be a major reduction in all these areas of concern, even though the emphasis concerning alcohol abuse seems to be drunk driving in particular.There could also be many other positive results; families healed, better work performance, booze money spent on products that would help the economy (we've all heard of the guy who spends half his check in the bar on payday,) would spare many health problems, etc.This new law could go something like this:Any person found guilty of any crime where drinking was a factor would lose the right to purchase and/or consume alcohol beverages.For a first misdemeanor, a three year revocation. a second misdemeanor, a ten year revocation. a third misdemeanor, a lifetime revocation. Any felony crime, an automatic lifetime revocation.Anyone caught drinking alcohol without a permit would receive a possible $1000 fine and/or jail sentence. those who would supply alcohol to people without a drinking permit (and possibly make money at it,) would also lose his/her right to purchase alcohol beverages.What wife or husband would buy an alcoholic spouse a bottle?What friend would give a problem drinker a drink at the possible cost of a thousand bucks and the loss of their own privilege? This could be a total discouragement to these would-be pushers.This permit doesn't seem as though it would be a problem to put into effect. It could simply be a large X, or whatever, on the back of any drivers license in any state, to show who has been revoked, and cannot purchase alcohol.Most people of drinking age have a driver's license, but one area that might be a problem could be New York City, where many people don't drive.This problem could be resolved, however, by a license-type I.D. specifically for the purchase of alcohol beverages. Most, if not all states have these already for the purpose of identification.This could be a small price to pay for the saved lives of thousands of Americans each and every year.After this, it would simply be a matter of drinking establishments checking I.D.s at the time of purchase.In the case of crowded bars, they could simply check I.D.s at the door, as they do now.Would this be a violation of rights? There can be no argument here since they already check I.D.s of people who look as though they may not be old enough to drink.This could be a good saying, "If a person who doesn't know how to drive shouldn't have a license to drive, a person who doesn't know how to drink shouldn't have a license to drink."Here are some other pluses to this idea:A good percentage of people in correctional institutions are there because of alcohol related offences . Because of this, court, penal, and law enforcement costs could drop dramatically.A.A., ALANON, MADD, SADD, etc., could become things of the past.What the alcoholic fears most, is the temptation to have that first drink, usually a spur of the moment type thing. Without the ability to do this, he/she is fairly safe. To start drinking again would almost have to be planned in advance. and to maintain steady drinking would be extremely difficult, in most cases.Even though A.A. members as a group don't become involved in political movements, it seems as individuals, they would all be in favor of a situation like this. Any person who wants to quit drinking, even if never having been in trouble with the law, could simply turn in their license for the non-drinking type.A woman from MAAD, on the NBC TODAY show, said "One out of every ten Americans has a drinking problem, and that 10% consumes 60% of all alcohol beverages sold in the U.S.." If this is true, there could be financial problems for breweries, liquor stores, bars, rehab centers, etc., as well as lawyers, massive amounts of tax revenue 'down the drain,' and so on.But it doesn't seem as though anyone would have a valid argument against a proposal such as this for financial reasons. To do so would be morally wrong, and could be likened to a drug-pusher attitude.Even with the problems this new law could present, it still could, in one sense, be considered the simple solution to the number one drug problem in the U.S. and elsewhere. Alcoholism.P.S. What ever happened to the skid row drunk?
Posted by: bruce alm 3/16/2007 1:58:54 AM

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