Crack down harder on drunker drivers
A bill proposes to increase sanctions for highly intoxicated drivers.
STATE lawmakers are moving ahead with legislation that would place tougher penalties on highly intoxicated drivers even on first offenses.
Though earlier data showed that more severe injuries resulted in collisions involving drivers with lower blood-alcohol content, more recent information from the state Department of Transportation showed that nearly 44 percent of fatal accidents involved drivers with readings that far exceeded legal limits.
In that case, the harsher penalties might be warranted. However, to deter drunken driving and prevent injury and loss of life, sobriety checkpoints and continuing education are productive methods.
The measure legislators are considering would double the penalty for a driver with a blood-alcohol level of 0.15 percent, almost twice the legal limit of 0.08 percent. Even if it is the driver's first offense, he or she would face six months without a driver's license, license plates or vehicle registration. Currently a first offense would draw three months of revocations.
A state study of 2001 statistics, released earlier this year, showed that the severity of injuries in collisions was greater when they involved drivers with lower blood-alcohol levels. The results suggested that the very drunk were more aware of their condition and thus tended to drive slower while those who were less intoxicated tended to drive more recklessly and that speeding was the more significant factor.
However, a DOT review of 184 alcohol-related fatal accidents between 2000 and 2004 showed that 85 involved drivers who had readings of 0.15 percent or higher.
Though there are differences in the data, all of the information attest to the risks of drunken driving. If the harsher penalties will discourage drinking and driving and get dangerous motorists off Hawaii's roads, they should be added to the books.
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