To the Editor:
I want to raise public awareness about the peril faced by college students because of drunken driving. On 7 October 2000, a drunk Honolulu cop, 48, sped through a red light and killed college student Dana Ambrose, 19. Naturally, she got added to the statistics that fuel political debate, guide the legislative process and promote prejudice against teenagers: The official tally of “teenagers killed in drunk driving crashes.”On 19 June 2004, a drunk Detroit police lieutenant, 56, drove the wrong way down a one-way street, killing college student Nehemiah Thompson, 20, in a head-on crash. Well, that’s one way to prevent underage drinking.Of course, it’s not fair to stereotype all cops by a few bad examples, so let me mention that not all cops drive drunk. On 22 September 2006, New York City police officer Marlene Rivera, 24, was drunk, according to her autopsy, but she knew better than to drive. Instead, she caught a ride with another drunk cop. As Bridgeton, Missouri police officer Scott Armstrong, 31, drove his patrol car on 12 January 2005, he was sober, according to the autopsy that was performed after a drunk cop crashed into him.Back to the peril faced by college students. On 2 March 2006, a motorist, 47, with eleven prior drunk driving convictions drove a pickup truck in Burton, Ohio. He was driving drunk, (0.26% BAC), leading police on a high-speed chase, driving under suspension and driving left of center, but at least he wasn’t drinking under age. He crashed head-on into a car with three Hiram College students, killing Grace Chamberlain and Andrew Hopkins, both 18, and critically injuring Evan Dasilva, who was 19, but at least he wasn’t buying beer for them.What should be done to reduce the danger to college students? Conduct more sting operations at liquor stores? Make ID’s tougher to counterfeit? Impose harsher penalties on people under 21 caught drinking responsibly?Folks should send their best ideas to the drunk drivers in the New York Legislature, who decide what laws to pass. You can also vote, but you’re vastly outnumbered at the polls by drunk drivers who don’t care about the carnage any more than they care about your rights.
Tom AlciereWebmaster, Underage Drinkers Against Drunk Driving