You might think that DUIs would be on the downswing in Georgia, thanks to harsher penalties, increased public enlightenment and the efforts of groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Students Against Destructive Decisions.
Sadly, you’d have to think again.
According to the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, law enforcement officials continue to arrest some 40,000 people a year for driving under the influence in Georgia alone, and DUI remains a factor in many fatal crashes. It’s also enough of a problem in our state to prompt Gov. Nathan Deal to air a 60-second commercial Sunday before the Super Bowl, urging residents not to drive drunk.
Here’s the story, from the the Associated Press:
“The governor appears in a 60-second TV ad scheduled to air on before the game Sunday. Deal’s office says NBC affiliates statewide are airing the commercial for free.
“In the ad, the governor encourages Super Bowl viewers to have a good time but also warns that “having too much to drink and getting on the road endangers not only your life, but the lives of others.”
“Deal also uses the spot to promote a smartphone app called Drive Sober Georgia from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. The app helps link users with groups statewide offering rides after the game.”
That’s not the only DUI story making the rounds this week. Various media have reported that state lawmakers are plan to make it a felony for someone caught driving under the influence with a child in the car. That would seem a no brainer, though some critics of the measure note the stigma that comes with a felony charge could make it difficult for folks to keep jobs or find employment. They argue instead for more drastic fines.
Impacting someone’s livelihood is an understandable concern, but it misses the point. If the theft of property worth $500 is considered a felony, surely it’s a worse crime for an intoxicated motorist to get behind the wheel and endanger not only his life, but others. Add a child into the mix and it’s not only an incredibly selfish act, but also one that should be considered a felony in every sense of the word.
That this remains an issue shows that, no matter how far we think we’ve come, we still have miles to go before we’ve put the brakes on DUI.