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Hosted by: Scott LaMar



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Smart Talk: Tougher DUI laws in PA?

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Oct 21, 2013 2:40 PM

What to look for on Smart Talk Tuesday, October 22, 2013:

alcohol drink and keys 300 x 200.jpg

More than 460 people were killed on Pennsylvania roads and highways in crashes involving a drunk driver in 2011.  That's almost a third of all fatalities.

Sheer numbers show progress -- 1,048 people were killed in DUI crashes in 1982.  But numbers don't mean anything those who lost their lives or their families.

For most of the past three decades, Mothers Against Drunk Driving has been the nation's leading advocate for keeping roadways safer from those who would choose to drink and drive.  

MADD is backing tougher laws here in Pennsylvania, including one that would require ignition interlocks to be installed on the vehicles of anyone convicted of driving under the influence with a blood alcohol level of .08.

Currently, only repeat offenders are ordered to have ignition interlocks. 

The interlock requires a driver to blow into it.  The vehicle won't start if alcohol is detected.

A National Transportation Safety Board earlier this year recommended a reduction in the blood alcohol content level for measuring drunk driving.  The BAC would drop to .05 from the current .08 under the proposal.  What are your thoughts on lowering the BAC level?

MADD explains on Tuesday's Smart Talk program.   

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Comments: 15

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-10-22 08:23

    Laura in Lewisburg emails:

    Is there a data website of DUI offenders (such as Meghans Law requires)? Could there be one by zipcode?

    It would be helpful for residents to be alert in their neighborhoods. Even data by zipcode or county would be useful.

    Are any of our voted-in leaders operating with the lock/ignition interface?

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-10-22 08:24

    April emails:

    I totally agree with this new law. I believe it would have saved my ex-husbands life in some way. He had his 4th DUI and before his first hearing he committed suicide.

    But there is some others things that you may not have thought of.

    What about the alcoholics that have their spouses/girlfriend or boyfriends car. Even the parents car. I will tell you from first-hand experience that you cannot stop someone who is going to hurt you if they want your keys. Yes yes call the cops but please it’s NOT always that easy. There needs to be accountability as in explain to Penn DOT or PO officers or police the courts someone how they are getting around if they do not have a vehicle in their name. This is a huge part of the problem. They also can use their children, once again you may thing call the cops but if just simply allowing the child to blow into it and that keeps everyone else from getting hurt in the home then that’s why the mother/girlfriend may do it. Please put yourself in others shoes and think of all angles of alcoholics use.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-10-22 08:32

    Russell posts to witf’s Facebook page:

    This is stupid until we seriously start to consider how people get from point A to point B when drinking. Why not just make it zero tolerance, any alcohol level is unacceptable? It's the logical conclusion to all of MADD's actions. And I'm not arguing against it necessarily, drinking and driving is dangerous but if you don't live in a place where you can grab mass transit or a cab at one a.m. then what's the point? The problem is not only making people carefully consider what they are doing but actually presenting a legal and practical alternative. All this gaming of the system just makes more business for police and makes it a better guessing game for anyone who is drinking (one drink? two drinks? how long of a time period?).

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-10-22 08:33

    Kelly posts to witf’s Facebook page:

    MADD. Money addicted Prohibitionist greed. The real problem is chronic alcoholics who routinely drive at .15 and over. Targeting a social drinker with a .05 is a money making scam to fill the coffers of the law enforcement industry. When do we say enough?

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-10-22 08:34

    Brad posts to witf’s Facebook page:

    I feel safer sharing the roads at night with the drinkers than during the day with the senile seniors.
    Why can't we just have breathalyzer ignition locks on all cars and eliminate the dui money racket? Oh right, because then the money would go to car technicians and not judges and lawyers.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-10-22 08:38

    A listener emails:

    I agree with the speaker, most DUIs have driven up to 80 times earlier. But that is an estimate though, and isn't factual science. I'm all for a cop pulling over a suspected drunk.

    DUI check points to me are illegal,the concept of pulling anyone over for no reason is called "fishing" to me. DUI fines should be steep,with the interlock,but no license suspension,for a first time offender. If a interlock is to be installed as a control tool,then that should negate the reason for suspension. The BAC is low enough.

    With the prevalence of prescription drugs,this should also be an issue,at the doctors office also as far as license suspension. But I don't think is. Furthermore the law should be uniform state wide or even national. But please, when a law enforcement officials or politicians are convicted the punishment should be crippling.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-10-22 08:46

    A listener emails:

    I agree with the speaker, most DUIs have driven up to 80 times earlier. But that is an estimate though, and isn't factual science. I'm all for a cop pulling over a suspected drunk.

    DUI check points to me are illegal,the concept of pulling anyone over for no reason is called "fishing" to me. DUI fines should be steep,with the interlock,but no license suspension,for a first time offender. If a interlock is to be installed as a control tool,then that should negate the reason for suspension. The BAC is low enough.

    With the prevalence of prescription drugs,this should also be an issue,at the doctors office also as far as license suspension. But I don't think is. Furthermore the law should be uniform state wide or even national. But please, when a law enforcement officials or politician are convicted the punishment should be crippling.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-10-22 08:46

    Barb emails:

    The law does not make sense if the offender cannot afford it they are going to opt out and continue to drive illegally. I have a neighbor that has been convicted 17 times on DUI’s spent very little time in jail and continues to drive without a license and drunk. Another person we know bought a car had it registered in his brother’s name so he had a car to drive drunk he had the devise installed on his regular car. The device is not a deterrent. We need stiffer MANDATORY JAIL TERMS. No a money making scheme for the manufacturer or the ignition device and the installers.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-10-22 08:47

    A listener emails:

    As a law enforcement officer I have a concern about the one caller's suggestion for access to offender info similar to Megan's Law. I believe there would be significant citizen vigilantism with neighbors calling the police every time they see an offender getting into a car, regardless of whether think the person was drinking. They could also go to the extreme of causing damage to an offender's car to keep it from being driven. Both of these would tie up LE enforcement resources.

    I do support the law being discussed with your guests, just not an offender database.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-10-22 08:49

    April emails:

    ARD does not work, it’s a joke. Once again there needs to be accountability for the teachers. My ex said they were telling stories of being drunk and laughing. (perry county,pa). That is just wasn’t taken seriously by the convicted or the teacher.

    My ex was on suboxane for alcohol abuse and it worked it really worked. But it can also be abused if the underlying cause is not fixed. So he started to abuse it and now he is gone. These alchohlics need help. He didn’t qualify for help, he went to rehab and once he got out all help was stopped because he had no insurance no one would continue to help.

    You know the only reason he got caught was because he passed in a no passing zone. I mean each of his offenses were .29 and .28. you can look up his docket sheets. Please get this law passed.

  • sburton6 img 2013-10-22 08:49

    Question about checkpoints: WHY are police so difficult with people who have NOT been drinking while going thru these checkpoints?

    I am all for them, but if you are catching someone in a checkpoint who has not been drinking; say if the car inspection was up by one day, why are police hassling people so strictly for more minor offenses? It took us OVER A YEAR to clear up a "late inspection" ticket we received during a drinking checkpoint (we do not drink at all and have an otherwise clean record.) I feel the officers could have let us off with a warning. Instead we were pulled over with two small children for about 30 minutes and then given a ticket. No officers listened to us, all were rude and evasive.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-10-22 08:52

    A listener emails:

    Has there been any effort to promote the building of automated highways and the construction of Motor Vehicles such that vehicles will will not come in contact with one another and that therefore there will be no highway death and mayhem and the problem will be completely eliminated.

    Carnegie Mellon University 30 years ago was able to produce an automated car. Why is it that we continue to try to fix the driver (an impossible task) and not fix the highways and the vehicle thru technologies that have been available for many years such that there will never again be a drunk driving death.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-10-22 08:54

    Tim posts to witf’s Facebook page:

    How about coin operated breathalyzers located in the bars like they have in Germany. That way a driver is fully aware whether or not they are making a bad choice.

  • sburton6 img 2013-10-22 08:55

    Also, glad to hear an al-anon member commenting on air! My husband has been sober nearly 5 years now (he is a recovering alcoholic, that's why neither of us drink)

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-10-22 08:57

    Erica emails:

    I think that this proposed law is an awesome idea and should be backed 100%. MADD thankyou for your efforts to make the road safer. I am 23 years old and am more then willing when going out with my friends to be the DD. It’s safer and smarter to have a DD.

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