I did not think kindly of the July 25 front-page article "For DUI, Personal Costs Are High; Virginia Arrests Exact Both a Financial and Mental Toll." It's possible the article was meant as a deterrent, but to me the story seemed to show sympathy for the drivers.
A victim of a drunk driver, I am still recovering from a March 15 accident that killed one person. This was at 11:30 a.m.
-- C. Jane Buchanan
While our politicians should be applauded for tightening laws, they are still not strong enough to prevent thousands from getting into cars drunk every day -- even with children in the back seat.
As a resident physician in a surgical field, I can assure you that alcohol-related injuries provide me with a steady stream of patients, from car crashes to domestic violence. On the trauma service in Inova Fairfax Hospital, I took care of a drunk driver who had a 2-year-old in the car. The child was seen in the emergency room and discharged, but the driver needed to be briefly hospitalized. In general, when patients commit crimes and need to be hospitalized, we call the police to pick them up when their care is complete. But there was no sign on this woman's chart to call the police. Hospital social workers told me, to my horror, that whenever they pursue action against a drunk-driver parent, it goes nowhere because the laws are not there to support the fight. I recently encountered the same situation at Washington Hospital Center.
I do not sympathize with "social drinkers" who made a mistake once. Driving under any influence, especially with children, is a violent crime -- and the law has yet to reflect this.
-- Nazaneen Grant
July 25 would have been my daughter Mara's 29th birthday. She was killed at 18 while a student at the University of Notre Dame by a law student driving under the influence.
I think your article hit home about what the tough consequences of drunken driving can be, and the fact that those convicted can pay a big price, especially in light of laws that were recently, and appropriately, enacted in Virginia. But please don't try to convince the public that these convicted drivers need sympathy. They could have avoided their situations easily by not driving after consuming alcohol. My daughter had no choice. Our family wakes each morning knowing Mara will never again be part of our lives, have her own family or experience life as she wanted to live it.
Your story noted how a DUI arrest changed lives, in many ways for the better. At least these people have the chance to live and to make better choices.
-- Teresa McCarthy
In their otherwise excellent article on the costs of driving under the influence, Lena H. Sun and Carol Morello too readily accepted the consumption reports of intoxicated drivers. For an 85-pound woman to have a 0.09 blood alcohol level at 4:30 a.m. (hours after closing time), she would have had to have consumed three shots of cognac between 12:30 a.m. and 4 a.m. or four shots between 9:30 p.m. and 4 a.m., not the reported single drink.
-- Ted R. Miller
The writer is principal research scientist for the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation.
Are we supposed to believe that those arrested for driving under the influence are victims? Virginia's DUI laws exist as a deterrent to driving while intoxicated and as a safety net for sober individuals who do not drive "erratically," or through yellow lights, or "with a broken taillight and no headlights on."
To expect law-abiding citizens or those affected by the irresponsible behavior of a drunk driver to be concerned about the shame such drinkers experience is very hard to swallow. Perhaps such shame will deter them from putting their lives and the lives of others in danger again.
-- Rhonda Yanosky