Smart Talk

Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

Listen to Smart Talk live online from 9-10 a.m. weekdays and at 7 p.m. (Repeat of 9 a.m. program)

Host: Scott LaMar

Tougher DUI laws?/ Smart cities and regional cooperation

Written by Rich Copeland - Producer, WITF's Smart Talk | May 2, 2017 8:00 PM
dui 8.png

Since 2011, driving-under-the-influence-related crashes and deaths have decreased by more than 10% in Pennsylvania.  Despite that decline, there were still 345 deaths due to alcohol-related crashes in 2015 and nearly 45,000 DUI arrests the next year.

The current laws didn't keep Thomas Gallagher Jr. from driving in 2014 after two DUIs and with his license suspended.  That July, Gallagher was involved in a crash that killed 18-year-old Meredith Demko of Lancaster County.  Gallagher's blood-alcohol level was three times the legal limit and he had heroin in his system at the time.  We will be joined on Wednesday's Smart Talk by Meredith's parents -- Chris and Susan Demko.  The Demkos have worked closely with legislators in crafting DUI policy and have been sharing their story to raise awareness of the problem.  They are the founders of Pennsylvania Parents Against Impaired Driving.

State Senator Scott Martin (R-Lancaster Co.) has introduced a series of bills that would bolster the state's DUI laws in an effort to reduce those numbers even farther.  One proposal would extend the minimum sentence for two or more DUIs from 10 days to two years in prison.  Another bill would charge offenders with homicide if their DUI crash results in the death of others.

Martin appears on the program to parse out the bills and explain why he feels current laws are inadequate in curbing drunk driving. 

dd laws 2.png

top: PA State Senator Scott Martin (R-Lancaster Co.) / bottom: Susan and Chris Demko

Also, the Greater Washington Board of Trade is a development agency promoting business growth in the DC region, including Suburban Maryland and Northern Virginia.  GWBT president and CEO Jim Dinegar recently spoke at Penn State-Harrisburg about adopting "smart cities" principles to create networks of communities through information and communication technology and the use of "the internet of things" to create modern and sustainable community models.

Jim Dinegar is on Wednesday's Smart Talk to discuss how these principles can be implemented in our region to cultivate viable business structures and retain Central Pennsylvania's workforce.  

jim dinager.png

Jim Dinegar - President and CEO, Greater Washington Board of Trade


- My family also experienced loss due to a repeat-offending drunk driver. My heart breaks for anyone who must experience this type of loss. It haunts our lives everyday.

HOWEVER: Being a professional in the field of prevention..... I know we cannot simply enforce our way out of this problem. Repeat offenders are alcohol abusers and quite possibly addicted. This is a brain disease. Would we jail someone who got cancer after being cured and continuing to smoke? Our prisons don't have such a capacity. Addiction is the underlying issue of repeat offenders. Until we start to reduce the stigma of addiction, and TREAT it as a disease, we will not see our sought after return. We can prevent this issue; we can prevent addiction.....but as long as the disease of addiction comingles with the criminal justice system, and is treated as moral failing, we will be fighting a losing battle.            

     - Addiction is not about choices--it is the loss of the ability to make good decisions at all. Its about         biology. It's the physiology of brains creating an inability to do anything other than satisfy their limbic systems (the brains pleasure center) you cannot scare people into making good decisions through increasing enforcement when their brains are physically incapable of understanding fear! This is SCIENCE, not common sense. I am not saying there should be no ramifications for those who abuse substances and become addicted that lead to irreparable harm of others: I am saying those folks need to be earmarked for a different course than being thrown into a prison for years. They need treatment, they need can hold them 10 years and they will come out and use in the same capacity.                                    - Bevan

- What do you think about the proposal sitting in the senate right now to add 2200 more liquor stores in PA. Wants to know what senator thinks?                     - Howard, Harrisburg

Published in News, Smart Talk

Tagged under , , , , , , , , , , ,

back to top