Ohio's drunk driving laws are yet another example of politicians who push through unfunded mandates.
Drunk driving is an obvious problem throughout the country, and more specifically, in Ohio. Reading today's front-page story about on Ohio's drunk driving problem is evidence the laws are not working.
Judges can put habitual offenders in jail, but time locked up without rehabilitation only releases an alcoholic onto the streets when his or her sentence is finished. Most of the time county jails are forced to release such offenders because they have criminals with more serious offenses filling the available space. And besides, just sitting in a cell will not solve the problem. The rehabilitation needed is not available simply because it is too expensive, whether in prison or at an outpatient facility.
Punishing drunk drivers began with license suspensions, fines, jail time and weekend rehab -- yet the problem persists. Legislators must find a way to provide alcoholics -- and yes, habitual offenders are nothing more than that -- with proper treatment. There is no room in our jails and prisons for these people and judges are forced to suspend licenses and administer fines, which does not work. That's why you see more citations for driving under suspension than you see drunk-driving offenses.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving hopes future technology will offer the opportunity for auto manufacturers to supply every vehicle with a device to prevent its starting without the breath of a sober driver. But until then, legislators must take a long, hard look at this states penalties and how to fix them.
Ohio law enforcement officials do everything they can to catch these people, yet thousands more escape detection simply because enough manpower is not available.In 2005, alcohol contributed to 38 percent of traffic fatalities in the state, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
While statistics show the total number of drunk-driving fatalities has declined 39 percent since 1982 because of the measures taken above, more can be done to reduce that number. Companies love to put together statistics to show whatever they want to display in a good or bad light. The number one is what we would like to focus on. If just one life can be saved with better legislation, then it's worth it. But we know many more lives can be saved.