The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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Editorials

May 21, 2013

If you drink, don't drive ... If you drive, don't drink

It seems simple.

And it really is.

There’s no excuse for impaired driving, of any degree. And violators need to be prosecuted and removed from our highways.

Natalie Harvey, public information spokesperson for the state Division of Motor Vehicles, summed it up pretty well last week in an interview with The Register-Herald.

“Certainly, anything that is going to reduce fatalities and injuries on our roadways is worth looking into,” she stated.

Impaired driving costs thousands of lives in the United States every year — unnecessarily.

An effort is on by the National Transportation Safety Board for states to redefine their DUI-statuses, dropping Blood Alcohol Content levels from .08 to .05.

Hopefully, ad campaigns that endorse the idea of designating a sober driver have made an impact on how our society thinks about the importance of not driving drunk, and having a plan if someone has too many drinks while away from home.

But while there are still instances of impaired drivers taking the lives of innocent victims, for some it still isn’t enough. Folks aren’t getting the message, ignore it or are simply defying the law.

The crackdown on those people needs to continue.

Any impairment is not worth the risk. Still allowing for one or two drinks, based on body weight and other factors, is giving citizens the liberty to decide if they are able to operate a motor vehicle in a safe manner.

That’s scary enough.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Corey Palumbo, D-Kanawha, told The Register-Herald that it is possible a legislator would offer a lower BAC bill in an upcoming session, while also predicting other states will make a similar attempt.

Sen. Daniel Hall, D-Wyoming, an insurance adjuster, said he would be willing to support such legislation, provided there is ample evidence to support the NTSB’s claims that a lower BAC results in a reduction in injuries and deaths in highway crashes.

“If they have significant and accurate research to show this will help with impaired driving, I could support it,” Hall said.

We think the NTSB recommendation needs to be explored further.

The Highway2Enforcement Conference, hosted by The Governor’s Highway Safety Program at The Resort at Glade Springs last week, recognized 52 police officers from around the state who have focused on detecting and apprehending influenced drivers.

We share in the salute.

As we stated above, it’s quite simple, no matter what the BAC might be.

If you drink, don’t drive.

If you drive, don’t drink.

That’s a policy we can all live with.

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