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Limited drinking hours in public won’t stop DUI

12:06 AM May 28, 2016

One of the new changes the presumptive president-elect vowed to introduce is limiting drinking hours in public places to until 1 a.m. But this may not lessen driving under the influence (DUI) or drunk drivers killing themselves and/or others.

It’s naive to believe that a liquor ban after a certain hour will allow a customer to drive home safely. According to David Booth (http://driving.ca/auto-news/news/time-has-come-for-alcohol-sensors-in-all-cars), “there is still a surprising number of people who seem to view drinking and driving as a right” and for people with such an attitude, something more than a change in closing hours might be needed.

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How about using at random breathalyzers and hundreds of policemen patrolling the roads and highways, and cameras installed in hundreds of black-spot intersections to take pictures of the license plates of cars that run red lights?

Booth points out that in 2013, over 10,000 people died in the United States as a direct result of DUI. I do not know the number in the Philippines, but my guess is, it could be far more—not to include those who died in drug-caused accidents and/or road rages.

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There are many laws on DUI and wearing proper helmets by motorcycle-riders, but compliance with these laws is haphazard and enforcement is random or negligible. These laws would be obeyed more conscientiously if enforcement were strict, swift and certain, and the punishment severe enough, and the compensation for the victims’ families just, appropriate and fast.

A year ago, while on my way to attend an early morning Mass, while I was slowly turning left, I was “T-boned” by a motorcyclist driving at high speed. By the grace and mercy of God, I survived with only cuts and bruises and a dislocated shoulder; my helmet saved me from worse injury.

At the provincial hospital, there was another motorcyclist who also just arrived from an accident. He was OK, but his tandem rider suffered head injuries because she had no helmet on when the accident happened. I wondered how people who can afford a late-model motorcycle and helmet can’t buy a helmet for his wife, child, mother, girlfriend or passenger.

A new president has been elected into office because he promised change, and voters believed he would deliver. Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte will start well by keeping drugged and intoxicated drivers off the roads. This he can do with enough number of highway patrolmen and breathalyzers and, maybe, have “designated drivers” to take the wheel, literally, from the inebriated or the doped.

There are many ways of limiting the damage done by drunk drivers, but limiting the “drinking hours” is not one of them.

Duterte says he wants to eliminate crime. If Duterte can do this within six months after his inauguration, it would be a wonderful Christmas present not just to his more than 16 million supporters but also to every Filipino.

He can start by focusing on stoned drivers.

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—WALTER PAUL KOMARNICKI, [email protected]

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TAGS: Alcohol, drinking, driving under the influence, DUI, Rodrigo Duterte
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