MADD Clarifies Stand On New LawsIn reference to a recent...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

February 20, 1994

MADD Clarifies Stand On New Laws

In reference to a recent Associated Press wire story (that appeared in The Sun) regarding tougher drunken-driving laws, the Carroll County chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving would like to clarify the points addressed in that article.

The opening statement, "Maryland has some of the strictest drunken-driving laws in the country, but Mothers Against Drunk Driving will ask the 1994 General Assembly to tighten the screws little more," immediately puts MADD in a pejorative light. . . .

We propose three drunken driving initiatives. All were previously introduced and killed in committee.

MADD is seeking to change the blood alcohol content (BAC) level from .10 "prima facie" or presumptive to .10 "per se." Under the current presumptive law such factors as sex, weight, last food intake and performance of field sobriety tests are considered in determining intoxication. Our "per se" proposal would eliminate these factors, and have the blood alcohol content alone attest to intoxication. Forty-six states and the District of Columbia have already adopted this level of evidence.

An individual can test at .10 or even greater and still perform a field sobriety test. . . .

Another proposal MADD is seeking is mandatory blood-alcohol content testing of drivers in crashes that result in serious bodily injury. The proposal does not deviate from current BAC testing standards in that the policeman must first have "reasonable grounds" that there is alcohol involvement to request the test.

For BAC test results to be admitted into court proceedings, the test must have been performed within two hours of the incident. MADD has seen instances of serious injury that result in death beyond this two-hour limit, and the at-fault driver escapes the charge of "homicide by motor vehicle while intoxicated," because the BAC test was not performed. This mandatory provision already exists for crashes where there is an obvious fatality at the scene. . . .

Lastly, Sen. Walter Baker's and Del. Joseph Vallario, Jr.'s comments speak for themselves, except that Del. Vallario is mistaken in that the "rating the states" drunken driving report card gave Maryland a "B," not an "A." The comments typify the mindset of all too many of our legislators. The concern is directed to the impaired driver, who made a choice, not to the innocent victims of this crime. As long as society tolerates and excuses this crime as "He/she isn't a criminal," "They didn't mean to hurt/kill anyone," and "There but for the grace of God go I," innocent people will continue to have their lives turned upside down and the economic cost to society will remain in the billions of dollars. . . .

Shirley Hampt

Westminster

The writer is president of the Carroll County chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Greed Lifted Vietnam Embargo

I wish to thank those readers who took the time to phone the White House, their senators and their congressional representatives to protest the lifting of the trade embargo with Vietnam.

Unfortunately, the lifting of the embargo was already a done deal. Our president could not even wait . . . to make the announcement. It appears that once again big business greed has won out over moral right.

The president's decision was a betrayal of our nation's prisoners of war and the American people. Contrary to the media's portrayal that the chapter has been closed on Vietnam, the book continues. We cannot and will not have a closure on Vietnam until our POWs and MIAs have been accounted for. The families demand it and so do American veterans -- not only as the POW/MIA issue pertains to the Vietnam War, but for those still unaccounted for from World War II and Korea.

No amount of media or administration propaganda will change that. We will not repeat the history of those left behind from

World War II or Korea and simply let the issue fade away. For those of us who have seen the intelligence on live POWs and for those of us who have taken the time to investigate first-hand, there is no doubt that live POWs still remain.

I ask all of you once again to continue to put pressure on our national leaders to resolve this issue by bringing our live POWs home and as far as possible accounting for our MIAs.

Those wishing to become more involved with this issue or wishing to become better informed may contact me through: VVA Chapter 650, P.O. Box 1725, Westminster, MD, 21157.

Richard F. Will Sr.

Manchester

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