Curbing drunk drivers

Last week, a House-Senate conference committee in Washington distilled a formula that would cost Minnesota $25 million in federal highway funds by the year 2007, if our state legislators do not lower the legal blood alcohol limit from 0.10 percent to 0.08 percent. This draconian tug on the federal purse strings to make us dance is high-handed. But let’s face it — sometimes the federal government gets it right. We think this is a good idea and that our legislators should pass such a law. It will save Minnesota lives.
A DUI citation is one of law enforcement’s most commonly used tools to curb irresponsible drinking. On campus, underage student drinking is practically a rite of passage. Young and inexperienced drinkers behind the wheel of a car are always dangerous. Lowering the legal blood alcohol level could prod the bibulous to greater efforts to use a designated driver, take a cab, drink moderately, drink at home or not drink at all.
Would you get on a plane if you knew the pilot had “only” a 0.09 blood alcohol level? What if your surgeon giggled to the nurse wheeling you into the operating room that he really shouldn’t have had that last Bloody Mary? How would you feel if you smelled gin on your dentist’s breath just as the drill entered your mouth? Clearly, there are many situations where drinking is inappropriate. If reason will not persuade people to drive unimpaired, then using the DUI seems to be the best alternative.
Besides, with all those potholes lurking just beneath the pavement, ready to blossom into fiendish craters this winter, those of us who enjoy driving sober around Minnesota want to guarantee plenty of money is available to fill them in.