Sunday, September 7, 2008


by Ilene Pattie

The headline in the Dallas Morning News read:

"Newlyweds killed in crash with serial DWI suspect"

The 22-year-old drunk,who broadsided the car,had FOUR previous DWI convictions. He killed and incinerated a young school teacher and her husband of two months. Young people who had purposeful lives to look forward to. Ended.

Everyone in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area was outraged. Mothers Against Drunk Drivers urges legislators to pass a law requiring devises that keep a drunk from starting a car. Who are they kidding? That is not the solution.

This accident would not have happened in Europe. My daughter was only 16 when she went to Norway as an exchange student. When she came home, she told me that whenever she went out with other Norwegians, they asked this inexperienced young girl to drive. She did not drink. In Norway if a driver is caught after having even one glass of beer, he/she goes to jail for a year!

That is only by hearsay -- what my daughter told me. The following is what I heard in Italy.

My host, after admiring my new BMW, told me, "Do not worry about speeding in Italy. But if you are in an accident and you have been drinking, you will never see America again."

I did not put his warning to a test. (I only tried the BMW at 100 mph once, on a superhighway with no other cars in sight.)

I do not drink alcohol. In Albuquerque, my friends, Charles and Florence, invited me to have supper with them every Sunday night. I was their "designated driver" who accompanied them to restaurants where Charles always had a martini before dinner. A good deal for me. On my limited budget I could not have afforded such fine dining.

Americans are so jingoistic they refuse to learn anything from Europeans. Remember how France and Germany tried to keep us from invading Iraq? George W. Bush pushed us into going alone. The result has been disaster.

I am old enough to remember when England adopted its National Health Plan. The American Medical Association (the doctors' union) put out a big advertising (propaganda) campaign that made everyone terrified of "socialized medicine." Today most Americans do not know that every country in Europe has better medical care at lower costs than we do -- and all of those countries have some form of "socialized medicine."

But, back to the drunks on the road, my suggestion is: first offense, 30 days in jail, license suspended for one year. and five years probation. Drunk pleads he needs car to go to work. Too bad. Use public transportation or get someone else to drive you.

Second offense: six months in jail and license revoked. No exceptions.

Third offense: two years in prison. Fourth offense: five years in prison. Fifth offense: life!

Vehicular homicide: Anyone causing death, whether by speeding, careless driving, or intoxicated, life in prison without parole.

Young people (under 25 years old) have brains that are not fully developed. They do not have good judgment. But if they take a life, they should face the consequences: life in prison.

Harsh? Yes. We should forgive lots of foolishness in the young. . . . but not murder!