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3.17.2010

Ignition Breathalyzer Legislation

I popped over to Blunoz' blog and basically left my own blog post as a "comment" on his post on breathalyzers.  Basically, VA & MD want to pass legislation where it will be mandatory to install breathalyzers in the cars of first time convicted DUI offenders (catch it here in the Washington Post).  The breathalyzers would serve as an ignition interlock devices and hopefully lower the already high recidivism rates (yay, my college degree isn't going unused...hahaha...go figure #1 criminology & criminal justice program in the country and I do squuuuuuuat with it).  I digress...

I've written about my dad and his struggles.  This man influenced my life in so many ways.  My outspokenness, activism, passion for social justice & education, and empathy are traits that are definitely are from him.  Pride as an American, an Asian American (no hyphen biotches), and as a woman of color...definitely from him.  I see these traits coming out in his grandchildren as well.  Obviously, the lack of drinking was indirectly influenced by him.  He was a really good man with a very strong moral character just with an unfortunate "disease" (I put it in quotes since  I believe there's just this huge gray area of it be biological and what not).

My dad was also convicted of a DWI.  He had a bit of alcohol to drink and then my grandmother had an emergency so he drove the 10 minutes over to her home.  He was pulled over and then consequently had to attend AA meetings and treatment for his DWI.  Would I have wanted the ignition interlock device?  HELL YES.  Did my father drink and drive all the time?  Nope...not even close.  He primarily drank at home and stayed home when he did.  But still, if there was that slight chance that he could harm himself, or worse...OTHERS...then yes.

The two year anniversary of my friend who was killed by a drunk driver was just last month.  This man who pioneered to get a momentous studies program enacted at UMD (one of the first of it's kind on the East Coast...a certificate (in between a minor & major) program from which I was one of the first to graduate), took care of his elderly parents, and was a friend with a heart of gold had his life taken away by someone truly careless.  Not only did this kid get off with community service and a smidgen of remorse...he also BLAMED my friend for the accident.  Good thing all the witnesses at the scene of the crime refuted this idiot's claim.  Sometimes taking someone's life may still not be enough to scare someone to be sober enough to drive.  Lord knows how many people and friends I've seen who thought they were sober enough to drive.

Obviously I'm not one to take civil rights and liberties lightly...but I am all for these devices and the countless numbers of lives they could potentially save.  Do I think my father would have been for it?  Truthfully...yes.  Because that's the kind of man he was.  People need to take responsibility for their actions and this is one way to hold them accountable.  My good friend Neel made an excellent point that, should it pass, it should be grandfathered in.  MD State Senator Jamie B. Raskin (D-Montogomery), lead sponsor of the bill in Annapolis, was quoted saying "Punishment doesn't work, that's why we have such a high recidivism rate."  To that I say again..HELL YES.

Thoughts?

6 comments:

Melis said...

Tan, I am SO with you! First of all, I think it takes an act of incredible bravery to discuss a family member's struggles with alcoholism. Secondly, I am so sorry about your loss... A friend of my brother got drunk two years ago and killed a young boy in his own driveway. He was absolved of any legal responsibility because the first officer on the scene improperly administered a BAC test. The defense also stated that "the child should not have been in his driveway near the road and it is really the parents' fault." It horrifies me that I now drive on the same roads with my children in the car as someone like that. My own brother is going through proceedings to determine his punishment for a DUI last year and I hope they bring the full force of the law upon him. I cannot stand the idea that no matter how cautious I am and no matter how much thought and consideration I put into my family's safety, there are so many variables working against me. If this was a universal absolute for drunk drivers, maybe we'd go a little further towards fixing a very serious problem in our communities. Thanks for this post! I'm all for it!

Becca @ Lovely Yellow Ribbons said...

I'm all for it! I think it's a great idea.

blunoz said...

Obviously, based on my own post, I'm for it. My sister spent 6 months in a coma after a head-on collision with a drunk driver going the wrong way on the interstate, so it's hit close to home for me, too.

開心唷 said...

I love readding, and thanks for your artical. ........................................

liza said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
liza said...

I'm all for insuring the safety of all drivers and pedestrians on the road. The breathalyzers seem like a good idea. But i have to disagree very strongly with the first post.

i understand the love of ones family and concern for their safety but to wish full extent of the law on your own brother is pretty harsh. i certainly hope that he gets the help that he needs so that he can gain the maturity never to do it, again. Scared Straight isn't always the answer.

Great article Tanya!