Beyond a mere mistake

Selfish negligence of drunken drivers is infuriating

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There are innocent mistakes. Then there are horrible lapses in judgment.

Then there are the navel-gazing imbeciles who ignore decades of public service announcements, legislative and law enforcement crackdowns, and mounds of common sense yelling at them, and who nonetheless drive under the influence and kill or maim someone.

We’re as fed up with them as we are with mobs who storm U.S. embassies.

But we’ve still seen several apparent instances of it lately.

An Evans man, Alfonzo Nelle-Lopez, 28, is charged with first degree vehicular homicide, driving under the influence, open container, failure to maintain lane and driving without a license in a Monday crash on Columbia Road that killed his passenger. Considering the charges, authorities obviously believe alcohol was involved.

In Gwinnett County, Beverly Lynne Wilkins, 37, of Dacula, is charged with multiple offenses after driving the wrong way on Ga. 316 Aug. 24 and injuring five others in a horrific crash – while allegedly having been under the influence of the drug Propofol, stolen from a medical facility in the area.

Yet, excuse us for thinking the most tragic recent crash that is believed to be alcohol- or drug-related is the one that took the life of 19-year-old Jordan White of Martinez. The lovely Augusta State University student and Evans High graduate was making a legal left turn onto Washington Road from Ronald Reagan Drive late Wednesday when a pickup truck reportedly ran the red light and struck her car. Her two passengers were also seriously injured.

The wait for lab results is expected to be torturous, but again authorities believe the driver was impaired.

What is it with people? When are they going to wake up to the fairly obvious conclusion that it’s brain dead to drink or dope yourself into a fog and then sit behind the controls of a large chunk of metal that goes hurtling down the highway? What part of “stupid and dangerous” don’t they understand?

Know this: Anyone convicted in such a case won’t get near the amount of prison time that’s coming to them. What do we have to do to get their attention? Institute life terms on the first offense of impaired-driving killings?

At some point, impaired driving moves from being a mistake, an accident or a lapse of judgment to gross, wanton, moronic, criminal negligence.

We’re thinking at the point where the key goes in the ignition.

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Riverman1 09/17/12 - 07:08 am
Agree With Sentiment

I'll only add that the biggest problem is actually drivers under the influence of prescription, often legally obtained, psychoactive drugs that impair perception, mood, consciousness, cognition, and behavior. These drivers may be able to walk and talk, but their reasoning is not normal leading them to drive in unsafe ways. It's clearly illegal to drive while taking these medications.

Physicians and even dentists are passing out record amounts of these drugs. Studies have shown the vast majority of the people who receive them don't actually require such medication, but health practitioners of all kinds feel pressured to prescribe them by the patients and pharmacuetical companies.

The number of seemingly normal people who take these legal drugs to "take the edge off" while working in all professions and driving their kids and grandkids around town is astounding.

The problem is where drinking drivers are easy to detect by the odor of alcohol and physical actions, drivers taking prescribed psychoactive drugs are not. Law enforcement doesn't have the resources to test everyone they stop for drugs. These people are as deadly as drunk drivers, but they won't admit it. That makes the problem even worse.

soapy_725 09/17/12 - 07:28 am
If we can legislate and enforce No Smoking Zones

Then certainly we can enact laws to stop this insane glorification with alcohol and the resulting drunks who, by their own words, are better drivers, better lovers, see better, hear better and are bullet proof, when they are inebriated. None of those who have suffered the loss of dear loved ones to a drunk can see the happy in "Happy Hour".

Retired Army
Retired Army 09/17/12 - 09:26 am

Let's also not forget the debilatating and often leathal effects of interaction with other substances. Ignorance of how these opiods interact with alcohol for instance, is rampant, especially among older patients who have always imbibed moderatley. I don't know if the leagal system has gotten around to classifying impairment yet and if not it should be a priority. Lives are at stake.

rmwhitley 09/17/12 - 11:10 am
If you pay attention

to the vast majority of D.U.I. defense attorney's narratives, the accused was abused as a child, under great duress, had a very important errand, the person killed should not or did not have the right to be on the road when killed, it's racism, he's an illegal alien and didn't know our laws, he's a fine upstanding community leader and the person killed was just a working stiff. ALL of the laws are written by lowyers and designed to suit "their" constituency. Until we correct WHO writes and ENACTS the laws, we, "the working stiffs" will suffer at the hands and vehicles of those "above the law as proclaimed by their attorneys".

specsta 09/17/12 - 03:47 pm
The Chronicle Gets It Right

This is an editorial opinion that I can agree with wholeheartedly.

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