Readers Speak Out On Drunken Driving

April 18, 2009

I was deeply saddened by the death of Nick Adenhart ("An athlete dying young," editorial, April 12). This young man was murdered, yes murdered, by the selfish act of a fool who chose to get plastered and get behind the wheel.

The sports world has been robbed of the talents of an outstanding young athlete. More than that, we have lost a young man who lived an exemplary life and had a positive influence on all with whom he came in contact.

My heart and prayers go out to his family.

I am angered and saddened by the drunken drivers who slaughter people daily on our streets and highways.

Drunken drivers have hit close to home for me. I lost two very good friends to a drunken driver who was driving more than 100 miles per hour in a 30 mph zone. And the bright, beautiful 16-year-old daughter of a colleague of mine was killed by a drunk who was driving 70 mph on the wrong side of a busy city street.

In both cases, the driver served two years in prison and paid a fine.

Our DWI laws are something we as a society need to revisit, and legislatures need to have the intestinal fortitude to step up and hold drunken drivers seriously accountable for their actions.

This offense needs to rise to the level of second-degree homicide and get stiff sentences in the courtroom.

Denzil Minyard, Parkville

The tragic death of Los Angeles Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart is yet another reminder of how ineffective our nation is at keeping repeat drunken drivers from doing it again and again.

The suspected offender had a previous DUI conviction and was driving on a suspended license. This is not uncommon. Research shows that 50 percent to 75 percent of drunken drivers whose licenses are suspended continue to drive.

This is because the majority of repeat drunken driving offenders have a problem with the drug alcohol, and many have progressed to alcoholism.

When a person is addicted to alcohol or drugs, the only thing that matters is getting more of his or her drug of choice.

The only way we will have an impact on reducing repeat drunken driving offenders is to make sure they stop drinking and drugging. This can be done by developing long-term residential addiction treatment centers to which offenders are sentenced to successfully complete a rehabilitation program.

The death of Mr. Adenhart touched us all. But every day we lose mothers, fathers, sons and daughters to drunken driving.

Passing tougher laws, taking away driver's licenses, confiscating vehicles and putting interlock systems on cars have not and will not stop the problem.

It's time we get to the root cause of repeat drunken driving.

Michael Gimbel, Timonium

The writer is a former Baltimore County director of substance abuse services.

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