A proposal by Gov. David Paterson to impose harsher penalties on drivers who drink and/or do drugs and then drive with children in the car had many readers cynically wondering about the motives behind the legislation.
The proposed law would elevate the charges to a felony against anyone found to be drinking and/or under the influence of drugs and driving with children under 16 in the vehicle. Now such charges can be misdemeanors or even just a traffic infraction.
Here’s one reader’s take on the new law:
This is another example of a politician taking advantage of a tragedy to pander for votes. Drunks with no kids in the car still pass innumerable other cars with countless other children in them. Politician jump in with all sorts of knee-jerk solutions, but they are ultimately reflective of who we have become as a society — most people want a nanny state to legislate away the harsh realities of life. Driving drunk is and should be a serious crime. The .08 limit seems like a very tough standard already. If they are letting people off too easily for first offenses, toughen that up.
I think there is a problem with Gov. Paterson’s proposal to make it a felony for individuals who drive while drunk or on drugs and have passengers under the age of 16. Whether a misdemeanor or a felony, the charges would apply after the fact. What is needed is strong proactive education about the dangers of driving under the influence or while intoxicated. A misdemeanor or a felony isn’t necessarily going to be a deterrent to the majority of the populace. How about a good old Public Service Announcement campaign like we used to have in the 1960s and 1970s?
Referring to a recent slew of reports about moms being stopped or getting into accidents with children in the car after they had been drinking, one reader wrote:
We had better slow down the pace of life before we need to build more jails just to house overcommitted soccer moms who are in so deep they just can’t take it anymore.
Some questioned why penalties aren’t stiffer to reflect the gravity of the charge rather than single out who it could affect.
A reader noted:
I guess in the governor’s eyes it is OK to kill adults? Political pandering and posturing while the Senate is handing out $100,000 jobs to family.
Another agreed, adding:
All DWI/DUI offenses should be felonies — first time it occurs — no plea bargaining, no slap on the wrist. Jail time, lifetime revocation of a driver’s license and seizure of the automobile. Why can’t our elected officals in New York state demonstrate some type of courage? How many lobbyists can the hospitality/liquor industry have?
What do you think of the governor’s proposal? Read the story and tell us.