Press-Republican

October 3, 2013

Editorial: Designated drivers doing the job


Press-Republican

---- — Could it be that people have at last gotten the message on the dangers of drunken driving?

Or is it just that they realize the penalties are so severe as to be not worth the risk?

It’s hard to say, but, either way, law enforcement in Clinton County found more designated drivers than intoxicated ones during its annual campaign to get drunk drivers off the road over the Labor Day holiday period.

Stewart’s donated coupons for free cups of coffee to be handed out as a reward for designated drivers, and police distributed 55 of them during traffic stops over the weekend.

Congratulations to Stewart’s for participating in a positive way to such an important endeavor. And hearty thanks to the 55 recipients who were identified as responsible enough to drive drinkers and partiers around while staying sober themselves.

We would like to think that the results of this sweep are attributable to a heightened realization that driving while intoxicated or while ability is impaired by alcohol or drugs can have regrettable consequences for the driver but also for anyone else who happens to be walking or driving along the way.

But, as usual, these results could be forged out of fear of being caught. The penalties are significant.

You can be charged with driving while intoxicated if your blood alcohol content is 0.08 percent and you’re 21 years old or older; 0.04 percent and you’re driving a commercial vehicle; and 0.02 percent and you’re younger than 21.

If you’re younger than 21 and get caught with an illegal blood-alcohol content, the penalty can be suspended license for six months, a $125 civil penalty and $100 fee for suspension termination, as well as possible enrollment in the drinking driver program with associated costs. You may also have to install an ignition interlock device on your car.

Second offense could mean license revocation — meaning it will not be restored; you’ll have to take and pass all the tests to replace it.

If you’re older than 21, first offense could mean license suspension for 90 days, a $300 to $500 fine, a minimum $250 annual assessment fine for three years and up to 15 days in jail.

For second offense, you could have your license revoked for at least six months, a $500 to $750 fine, up to 30 days in jail and possible enrollment in the drinking driver program.

These penalties are severe, but they seem to be having the deterrent effect that lawmakers hope for when they pass such legislation.

Either that or people are beginning to get the idea that drunken driving is not only risky for themselves, it creates an unfair and perilous situation for other, innocent people.

We urge the police and the designated drivers to keep up the good work.