With another five nights to make merry before maybe 12 hours of sober Christmas Eve holiness, our nation’s highways are bound to see a spike in drunk driving arrests.
A slim percentage of the nabbed will be habitual drunks, congressmen or other scourges of decent society.
The vast majority will include housewives, carpenters, judges, doctors, florists, and kindly church organists -- otherwise good citizens all.
For them shame, condemnation, a year of ARD (Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition) and thousands of dollars in court costs await.
Saying here -- tsk! tsk! -- that no one should ever drink and drive would be the easy way out.
But I’ve never been about taking the easy way. Why do you think it’s been 19 years since I chose to accept a steady paycheck?
We should begin by acknowledging that driving motor vehicles even sober is fraught with peril. There are texters, road ragers and women freshening their appearance in the mirror while hogging the passing lane.
I contend if we were really serious about making the highways safer we’d all drive with the kids shut in the trunk.
Nothing is more distracting or dangerous than having a backseat toddler yapping, crying, crapping, etc.
Those are problems that will beg solutions for another day.
Today I offer one that will immediately reduce highway mayhem and end the increasing problem of branding near-sober people criminals for having had the misfortune to have blundered into a DUI checkpoint or momentarily wobbled over the center line while fiddling with the radio.
Our highways need Designated Drunk Driver Hours.
Here’s how it would work: The standard oppressive laws -- .08 percent is a ridiculous and arbitrary blood alcohol level designed purely to enrich hack attorneys and the greedy system -- would remain intact throughout most of the day.
But drunks, and drunks alone, would be given highway right of way every night from 11:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. As it’s the season of giving, let’s also give convivial diners a break from 8 to 8:20 p.m.
This would give experienced drunks a chance to scoot home safely.
Many people concern themselves only when drunks hurt innocents. Not me.
I don’t want to see anyone get hurt. The number of friendly drunks I know is roughly equal to the number of sober meanies so don’t make moral distinctions.
Designated Drunk Driving Hours would remove thousands of cars from the road during peak driving hours as people who like to drink would stay in their watering holes (liquor lobby, are you listening?). Tensions would ease, road rage would decline.
Sober drivers would know they have to be at home by 11:29 p.m. every night in bed reading the Bible, sleeping or downloading porn or else they’d risk arrest for DWS (driving while sober).
Our goal should be to keep drunks and innocents separate. An HOV lane for inebriates might accomplish this, but it is impractical and might encourage drivers to get loaded enough to qualify.
That’s why we need cede the roads to the drunks for just about four hours a day.
During these hours police can stop anyone driving for any reason, but can only arrest people whose BAC tops .15 percent (it was .20 percent in 1954).
This would in essence decriminalize a law that didn’t exist when our forebears tooled around the highways all gooned up, something that’s been happening since the invention of the wheel.
“Back in the day, if the cops thought you were too drunk to drive, they had discretion,” said my late grandfather. “They’d either take your keys and make you walk home, take you to jail to sleep it off or they’d drive you home themselves. It’s become a real racket.”
It’s like back then the whole world was Mayberry and every police officer was Sheriff Andy Taylor.
This my second attempt to use creative thinking to solve this persistent and vexing problem. It was December ’09 when I suggested we need cars that glow red whenever a sensor detected the driver was drunk. The glowing cars would signal police and more importantly alert sober drivers it was wise to pull over to let the drunk safely pass.
It is a truly bright idea.
Please understand: I’m not advocating anyone get away with driving really lit.
I’d just like the see the police and the courts focus on the problem drinkers and leave alone those who merely glow.