OK, I give up. When is enough, enough? Just in time for the holidays, yet another family is forever crushed at the hands of a suspected impaired driver. And they won’t be the last one. Mark my words, by New Year’s Day, another local family will suffer the same tragedy. It very well might be you or one of your loved ones. I hope I’m wrong, but I doubt it.
I could do a quick Google search and come up with the exact number of victims, but what’s the point? It’s a lot and we all know it. If you look at just the victims, it doesn’t take into account the hundreds of thousands of friends and family members who attended the funerals and are forever scarred by the preventable tragedies.
So what’s to be done to at least try to do something about this problem? Well, here’s a thought: Making the penalties for impaired driving a whole lot more severe. So harsh that the attitude of “what the heck; I can drive good enough to get home. Besides, it’s only a couple of miles” will not be a viable option.
How harsh? How about this: First offense gets you six months in jail. Second offense, five years. Third offense, 20 years. And this assumes that no injuries or property damage was done. If so, well, the sky’s the limit.
I don’t have the slightest idea how vehicle codes are written, but our elected officials sure do. I challenge each and every one of them to get off their collective fannies and do something about it. It irritates me that both political parties, and their partners in the media, keep us squeaking with one another while they get rich, but I digress. But when it comes to something like drunk or drugged up drivers ravaging our communities, they all seem to turn a blind eye and have another martini before the drive home.
I have been a regular contributor to the Letters to the Editor in these pages for a number of years. Those of you who recognize my name will recall me as being one step to the right of Attila the Hun, and at my age, I’m pretty apt to stay that way. But this topic should find agreement with my friends on the right and the left. It’s a whole lot more important than that. I don’t care who does it, but some politician needs to get this ball rolling, and I mean right now.
I’ll make everyone a promise: If a Democrat out there puts forward a bill to meaningfully crack down on drunken drivers, I’ll switch to the dark side and vote a straight Democrat ticket. If you knew how distasteful that prospect is you’ll know how seriously I take this issue. Are there any politicians out there listening to me?
Do something important for once and let’s get this scourge stopped. Only you have to power to step in and save some lives. The ball’s in your court.
Steve Clark is a former member of the Kern County Republican Central Committee, an author and a retired contractor.