As the years pass, time seems to dull the pain. The pain never seems to completely go away, occasionally something triggers the old wound, and you begin the process of healing all over again.
This process of reopening a wound happened again this week. It began on Tuesday morning as I was listening to Dan, Nicole, and Pat, on 1130 AM “The Early Spin”. The three began to discuss drinking and driving. Normally, when I hear discussions about drinking and driving, I would flip off my radio or turn off my TV. It is too painful for me to listen too. This time I thought to myself that two of the three people on the radio are conservatives; they would probably defend tough laws on drinking and driving. Well, not this time.
The reason I was so disappointed in the conservative talk show hosts is that I lost someone very dear to me in a drunken driving crash many years ago. My friend Chris was heading home from work one night when a drunk driver struck her vehicle. She died in the hospital about an hour after the crash.
It has been almost 20 years and I still struggle to talk about her death. It is difficult to describe the heartbreak of losing someone you care about to a drunk driver.
The three talk show hosts were discussing the issue that the AG candidates were speaking on. The first issue is whether to criminalize the first offense for drinking and driving. One of the talk show hosts, Dan, seemed to agree the proper thing to do was to criminalize the first offense of drinking and driving. Good, I agree.
The second issue they were discussing was sobriety checkpoints. All three talk show hosts were against any sobriety checkpoints. The three gave the typical excuses I have heard for years.
· Sobriety checkpoints are unconstitutional. Wrong! Actually, this is not true. The Supreme Court has ruled on this issue many times and have deemed that the sobriety checkpoints are in fact constitutional.(See Michigan vs. Sitz, 1990)
· Sobriety checkpoints do not work. Although this argument has been made so many times, we will never know exactly how well sobriety checkpoints actually work. The whole point of a sobriety checkpoint is to prevent drinking and driving. We will never know exactly how many folks actually decided not to drink and drive because they believed that might have to go thru a sobriety checkpoint. Some folks actually believe that unless tons of arrests are made at these checkpoints then they are not working. Fewer and fewer arrests at these checkpoints are exactly what we want. Get the drunk drivers off the road, that is the whole point!
· Sobriety checkpoints are inconvenient. Yes, they are inconvenient. Some are probably more inconvenient than others are. I have been stopped on two occasions at a sobriety checkpoint. Both times occurred in Illinois on a Saturday night as I was driving back from shopping in the city. Neither time did I spend longer that 5 minutes in traffic and no more than 20 seconds speaking to the police officer. The police officer asked me a couple of questions, I looked the man right in the eye as I spoke to him and he sent me on my way after giving me a polite “thank you and have a good evening”. I had not been drinking, so I did not feel inconvenienced on either occasion. Since people are dying every day due to drunken driving, isn’t it worth a couple of minutes out of our weekends to do whatever we can to save lives?
Now I am not going to say that any of these talk show hosts were doing anything to condone drinking and driving, because they were doing no such thing. In my opinion, they are just dead wrong about this issue.
Of course, even thru this discussion, they had to drag politicians into this conversation. Paul Bucher and Kathleen Falk both supported sobriety checkpoints. JB Van Hollen did not. The talks show hosts implied that JB’s reason for not supporting sobriety checkpoints is that “it would clog up the courts.” If I could have gotten thru on the phone to these three talk show hosts, I would have asked the question- “Would JB rather clog the courts or the morgues?”
Thank goodness I could not get thru on the phone because I have not found a single article where JB is making this claim. Therefore, I am a little cautious as to exactly what JB’s claim on this issue is.
Since I do not exactly know where JB stands on this issue, I would prefer to direct my questions to JB. I do not want to find out that JB Van Hollen was misrepresented or his comments were taken out of context. This would not be fair to JB. I will not be blasting JB on this position until I fully understand what JB’s position is. I am certain JB Van Hollen does not condone drinking and driving.
This issue is so important and deserves the attention of our AG candidates. In 2004 alone, more than 17,000 were killed in alcohol related crashes in the US. In the last 10 years, over 250,000 Americans have died in alcohol related crashes. Over 40% of the fatal crashes in the state of Wisconsin are alcohol related. Since this is the #1 reason that people are dying on our streets in Wisconsin, it is imperative that this issue be dealt with NOW!
I cannot understand why we still have people dying on our streets because of drinking and driving. Their deaths are unnecessary and preventable. There is absolutely no good excuse why any American should die because of drinking and driving.
When the Wisconsin District Attorney’s Association was asked what their opinion on this issue was, Scott Horne stated:
“Prosecutors are concerned about resource issues”
To all of the District Attorneys across Wisconsin and all four of our Attorney General candidates- pictured below you will see a photograph of a resource that Wisconsin can no longer afford to lose.
Tyler James Greeley, Clear Lake Wisconsin- Age 3, killed June 30, 2002 by a drunk driver
DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE!