Drunken driving is not the way to ring in the year

Johnson City Press • Dec 31, 2017 at 12:00 AM

We encourage all New Year’s Eve revelers to toast their friends responsibly. If you are drinking tonight, leave the driving to a sober person.

Drunken drinking is illegal and has many consequences that not only include possible death and injury to the drunken driver, but also death and injury to anyone who has the misfortune of meeting a drunken driver on the highway.

If you are hosting a New Year’s party with alcohol, be sure to offer guests plenty of water and other non-alcoholic beverages, as well as snacks and appetizers. A good host is also watchful of how much alcohol a guest has consumed, and is mindful to cut them off an hour before the party ends.

Law enforcement officials say most of the accidents that occur on New Year’s Eve involve alcohol. That’s why the Tennessee Highway Patrol says it will step up its patrols tonight.

Tonight is also the time to make resolutions for the New Year. We hope state lawmakers will resolve to do more to address the problem of drunken drivers who repeatedly put themselves and anyone they meet on the road in jeopardy.

But how? That’s the question that has vexed law enforcement officials, lawmakers and concerned citizens for years.

One option (which has been implemented by Tennessee in recent years) is to require the vehicles of repeat DUI offenders be equipped with ignition locks. Officials say this measure has helped in some cases, but much more is needed.

Perhaps one of the most effective ways to address this problem is to increase funding for intensive substance abuse programs. Too often, such programs for DUI offenders are lost to budget cuts. That shouldn’t happen.

No matter how tough state lawmakers make the penalties fordrunken driving, some people still do it again and again. Many Tennesseans believe locking up repeat DUI offenders and throwing away the key is the only way to deal with the problem.

It is, however, a very expensive way to address habitual DUI offenders.

Maybe it’s time for a different approach, one that incorporates both treatment and punishment. This is a subject members of the Tennessee General Assembly should make a priority when they return to work in a few weeks.

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