The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Editorials

August 19, 2012

DUI

 

Talk about “sobering” statistics ...

A study released recently by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources showed that Raleigh and Greenbrier counties each had a significant increase in DUI arrests between 2008 and 2010, in contrast to declining state totals.

While this is certainly a disturbing fact, statistics may offer more than one viewpoint and can sometimes explain two very different cases.

Are more people driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol?

Perhaps.

But it could also mean that stricter enforcement of laws regarding DUI is causing the upswing in arrests.

We hope this is the case.

Is there one person who could argue (successfully) in favor of being able to operate a motor vehicle while impaired?

No.

But still, people insist on getting behind the wheel and pull onto our roads and highways either completely drunk or buzzed. Either condition puts that intoxicated driver and every other motorist he or she encounters at risk for serious injury or death.

Most other counties in our region have shown a decline in DUI arrests.

In staying with the notion of giving the benefit of the doubt, our hope is that the citizens of Nicholas, Fayette, McDowell and Mercer have sobered up to the fact that driving while intoxicated is a poor decision that likely brings deadly results.

Numbers in Wyoming, Summers and Monroe counties have remained about the same over the time of the study, and are relatively small.

But even one impaired driver on the road is too many.

Especially if that person rams head-on into one of your family members, who is innocently driving down the road.

With about one-third of our state’s population admitting to drinking at least occasionally and about one in five saying they’ve engaged in “binge-drinking” — someone needs to be grabbing the car keys.

In the absence of a designated driver — or at the very least an absence of better judgment — drunks are taking the lives, theirs and those of others, in their own hands.

We salute law enforcement officials who take this matter seriously and are cracking down on DUI.

You’re also removing potential threats to society from the highways.

That’s as important a public service as one can think of.

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