October 2016 Editorial Winner

No driving for drunks, druggies
John M. Wylie II, Oologah Lake Leader

If we want to get tough on repeat alcohol abusers and drug addicts, we need to get down to the real issue.
The worst carnage caused by both classes of individuals involves driving while under the influence.
So the solution isn’t warehousing the offenders, and it isn’t setting up treatment programs during which they can easily find ways to drive while high.
It is making certain that they simply cannot get behind the wheel.
Step 1 is impounding the owner’s car while the owner is in treatment. No hardship exceptions, no special privileges while treatment is incomplete, no loopholes. Safely warehousing a car is much cheaper than warehousing a human being.
Step 2 is making it impossible for the impaired owner to beg, borrow, buy or rent a vehicle. Require that anyone who wants to drive someone else’s car must produce a valid ID showing they have the legal right to do so.
Create a central registration system accessible by Internet or phone where the number can be verified, and put the onus on the person who owns the car.
Fail to check, or provide a car to someone whose ID doesn’t check out, and the owner—even if it is the offender’s mom—has committed a crime that will cost him or her the right to drive for a set period of time.
Again, no hardship exceptions, no loopholes—and if it is a rental car company it loses the right to rent any cars in Oklahoma for a set period of time—perhaps 24 hours for the first offense, a week for the second, a month for the third and so on.
Both the company and the clerks would be subject to the penalties.
Finally, if the offender stole a car, the first offense would add a year to the no-car ban, the second would add five years and the third would make the ban for life. Again, there would be no exceptions.
Sound draconian? So is constantly reading police reports or, if you’re a police officer or first responder, working at the scenes where repeat offender drunks and druggies cause wrecks or grievous injuries.
Those being treated would have transportation—they’d be assessed a storage fee for their impounded vehicles to allow a feeder system of public transit to get them to and from work and other needed destinations at a reasonable price.
Or they can work out a way to get a ride with a legal driver. Besides friends, new commercial place-to-place options develop regularly at continually more economical prices.
Will this provide an overnight solution? No, we wish such a thing were possible. But if the legislature got busy in the next session lawmakers likely could have a legal framework in place by mid-May.
Driving has no Constitutional protection. It is not a right, it is a privilege requiring a license. And the only way to end the carnage and provide a real incentive for those needing treatment to get it and follow its requirements is to deny them that right until they do.
And the only foolproof way to do that is to cut off the supply of cars to both the addicts and their enablers.
Nothing else has worked. Anyone got a better idea?

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