Posted by Cloey | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 22-08-2012
I try to be light-hearted on this blog. There’s enough doom and gloom to be found on the national news each night or in the newspaper. But I have to make an exception today because I am really angry about the following-How many innocent lives have to be extinguished before people stop drinking and driving? I’m starting to think that Minnesota has it’s head in the sand. New Yorkers are no better in making sober choices, believe me, but penalties were made harsher in order to get people to think twice.
It feels like every time I turn on the news or read the West Central Tribune, people are dying because of drunk drivers. Just this past weekend, a woman, her mother in law and her young daughter were hit head on by a young man who was found under the influence and with empty liquor bottles in his car. Three weeks ago a 5 month old child was killed after a man drove so drunk that he couldn’t even walk. He had a cooler in his car and was downing beers as he was driving. It was his 3rd offense. I have to ask, was it worth it?
Sometimes I feel that we are so afraid of impinging on the rights of criminals that we lessen the value of the victims robbed of the most important right of all-the right to live. It’s not just on the highways. As I clean the litter on the outer peripheries of our property, I find countless beer bottles, beer boxes, empty wine and liquor bottles and cigarette boxes. People are literally driving around drinking and throwing their debris out the windows as if world is their trash can. Doesn’t do much for feelings of security in our quiet farm knowing that there are characters out there who are roaming our streets swirling a beer and wondering what would be more fun tonight. It has to be that the penalties are not harsh enough. A man in Willmar, MN was arrested for his 9th DWI recently. Seriously? Why was he even driving?!
I realize that rural areas lack public transportation. I realize that people want to socialize and enjoy themselves but too many of us look the other way or are afraid to speak up when someone we know or love drinks and drives. Several months ago the farmer and I visited a local Legion on a Saturday night. It was 7:30 p.m., pretty early in the evening if you ask me yet there were several people completely bombed. Not for me to judge. And these were middle-aged ladies, not the younger crowd you’d expect. One particular woman was way unsteady on her feet and slurring her words. Clearly drunk. I watched her say goodbye to her crowd of friends with the car keys in her hand and start heading for the door. No one said a thing until I stood up and “encouraged” them to find her another way home. They looked at me as if I was over-reacting but knew better than to ignore me. Really?
So why aren’t DWI laws stricter in MN? Is it too expensive to enforce? Are lawmakers unwilling to create legal consequences that could affect too large a population? Is it because municipal liquor stores are a thriving and economically advantageous entity regardless of what I would think would be a serious conflict of interest? I’m sure that there are many reasons and no one simple answer. Yes, people will always make bad choices, think only of themselves and fail to consider how their consequences affect others. But I truly believe that people drink and drive because others see it and don’t say anything and/or they roll the dice with the law expecting they can survive what inconvenience a fine would cost them. People also don’t realize how intoxicated they are when others clearly can.
Listen, I can’t imagine that there could be a worse consequence than knowing that you drove drunk and took a life. Most people don’t think it will ever happen to them or someone they love. There’s two people sitting in county jails right now that can tell us different. What will be their penalty? Sadly, if history is an indicator of the future, not nearly enough.
I’d love your opinion on this issue. It’s time to take our heads out of the sand.