Georgia Voices: State out to make DUI a more painful experience
by The Macon Telegraph
May 29, 2013 09:54 PM | 1930 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The National Transportation Safety Board has made a recommendation that states lower thresholds for inebriated drivers from .08 to .05. This would follow the lead of more than 100 countries that have .05 or lower limits.

Whether the move would lower the instances of alcohol-related accidents and deaths, as it has in other countries, remains to be seen. Georgia, as did many other states, lowered its alcohol limit from .10 to .08 in 2001 in order to continue receiving federal highway funds, but the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that in 2001 there were 406 alcohol-related road deaths. In 2008, that number had not receded but had risen slightly to 416.

When the Georgia General Assembly considers changing the legal alcohol limit next session, it should continue last session’s efforts to bring more technology to bear.

Gov. Nathan Deal signed into law earlier this month HB 407 that requires those convicted of a second DUI to have an ignition interlock installed in any vehicle available to the violator for a period of a year, up from six months and eight months.

An ignition interlock device prevents a car from being started if it detects an alcohol level (similar to a Breathalyzer) that exceeds a certain limit.

The device can also be set to retake samples periodically during the same trip to thwart efforts to fool the device, such as having a passenger blow into it. The device records the readings and periodically, the driver has to have those readings downloaded and submitted to the court.

Also last session, state Sen. Donzella James (D-Atlanta) introduced SB 15 that would have required ignition interlocks for first-time DUI offenders.

Her bill is still alive and could be approved in the 2014 session.

Lowering the limit, combined with laws already in place, would build a psychological wall that could prevent social drinkers from overindulging, knowing that more than one drink would, most likely, put them over the legal limit.

Many accidents are caused by drivers well over the .08 limit. There’s no foolproof way to keep them away from a vehicle, but we can up the punishment when they don’t comply with the law.

The Augusta Chronicle on the importance of reading:

We hope we’re not misreading state officials, but they sure seem to be misreading Augusta.

Reading between the lines of Georgia Board of Regents Chancellor Hank Huckaby’s remarks to the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce Breakfast on Wednesday, it sure sounds as if folks in Atlanta have very badly misread what’s going on in Augusta.

Very, very badly.

The chancellor talked about his role, and Georgia Regents University President Ricardo Azziz’s role, as a change agent. He talked about the institution having a statewide mission. He talked about turning over sacred cows. Did we mention he talked about the benefits of change?

Again, we hope we’re wrong — we just don’t know, because, sadly enough, organizers of the breakfast this week seemed overly concerned about the audience asking the chancellor any indelicate questions, so there wasn’t much of a dialogue. ...

How our pride in Augusta State University was turned into a bad thing is beyond us. It’s not. Folks in Atlanta should be thrilled that Augustans care this much about our state institutions. Instead, they think we need to be lectured.

And about the name: If some people think we’re being provincial, how does that explain Dr. Azziz’s $45,000 national survey that ranked “University of Augusta” or something close to it as the best name for the new U?

State officials seem not to know the first thing about what’s going on here. We hope we’re wrong, and look forward to being proved wrong — particularly by a willingness to work with us on these ongoing problems.

Change agents have to be willing to change too.

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