Editorial: Impaired motorists have turned vehicles into erratic weaponsWhen it comes to accidents, police don’t get many “car vs. house” calls. How fortunate we are for that.
By: Editorial Staff, River Falls Journal
When it comes to accidents, police don’t get many “car vs. house” calls. How fortunate we are for that.
Journal readers last week got a peek at what happens when an out-of-control car rams a home — and goes all the way through.
In this case, the home was an apartment bedroom. Two kids were sleeping as they should be on a 2 a.m. weekday, which is when the crash occurred.
The careening car finally came to a halt by the children’s beds. One bed was just a crib where a six-month-old boy lay. The infant was bruised though luckily not badly hurt.
Who expects to have their home smashed and a family member injured by a drunk driver? Maybe we’re concerned about such drivers while traveling late at night, but not once we’re at home.
Last week in Minneapolis another driver, returning in the early morning hours, crashed through her garage and into the back of her house. It made news not only because of the crash itself but because she’s a former drummer for the rock band Babes in Toyland.
No one, including the woman, was seriously hurt, and at least it was her own home that she plowed into. The woman was charged with drunk driving. News reports indicate she has other drunk driving arrests and convictions, including one in 2005. For the latter conviction she was dealt with severely — (Not!) — and placed on unsupervised probation for two years.
No matter how much traffic enforcement or how far we lower the legal blood alcohol limit, drunk driving is a scourge that doesn’t let up.
Repeat drunk drivers get right back behind the wheel and continue their destructive habits. Example: Two weeks ago a 51-year-old Shakopee, Minn., man with a history of drunk driving convictions was arrested again.
It drew media coverage because it’s the same guy who drove on the wrong side of a highway and crashed head on into the SUV of Minnesota Timberwolves’ player Malik Sealy killing him.
That was 2000.
At the time the man’s blood-alcohol level was over twice the legal limit. He was convicted of vehicular homicide and sentenced to four years in prison. In 2006, he gets arrested again for drunk driving in Crystal, Minn.
A district judge stayed the sentence, and this same driver was out on the road again until his latest arrest for drunk driving March 30 in Hennepin County, Minn. He was also convicted of drunk driving in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1997.
We also have another wrong-way drunken driver in Ramsey County, Minn., who was just charged with criminal vehicular homicide in the traffic death of a sheriff deputy’s wife. The victim was doing a ride along in her husband’s squad car when it was hit on the highway at 2:45 a.m. New Year’s Day. The wrong-way, female driver allegedly had a blood-alcohol count of .19 -– more than twice the legal limit.
These kinds of stories play out all the time. It’s not uncommon in the Journal’s Police Beat to find repeat drunk driving offenders — sometimes for a third or even a fourth offense.
How much of this must society tolerate? There’s technology available to keep drunk drivers from using their cars.
Driving drunk is worse than carelessly waving a gun. A high-speed vehicle becomes a large, moving weapon that can strike randomly.
That makes us all vulnerable targets, even when we imagine that we’re comfortably tucked in our beds for the night. This isn’t right. The consequences for those who bring on this madness should be swift, severe and undeviating.
Voting is a right we value and assume to be the foundation of a sound democracy.
Yet somewhere in the River Falls School District are 374 people whose voting rights should be revoked.
That’s how many votes Peggy Foster Harris got in last week’s school board election.
What’s amazing is that this woman withdrew from the race. She publicly admitted that she was in over her head and wanted out. Give Foster Harris credit for having the courage to make this admission, and then for going live before a cable-TV audience at a candidate forum and saying: “Do not vote for me.”
How much more clear and blunt could the message be?
Apparently, not enough for 374 eligible voters in our school district. They either didn’t pay attention, didn’t care or wanted to cause mischief.
Either way, it reflects poorly on local voting. While we always call for a large voter turnout, there are obviously voters out there who should stay home on Election Day.