As I was running some errands today, I heard part of a talk show on a San Francisco radio station. Apparently, one of the eastern states has passed new legislation (or wants to pass said legislation?) that would put a $10,000 fine for first DUI offense. The host was soliciting reaction to this law.
$10,000 is A LOT of money for most people. As the talk show guy said, it's not the kind of sum for which most people can just whip out a check. In California, there is a typical $1,000 fine for first offenders and then assorted other costs: in pound fees, court fees, increased insurance, DUI treatment program. In short that first DUI can run you well over $7,000 in expenses. So, if the fine was raised to $10,000, all these other costs would be added to the $10,000 fine, making a grand total of well over $15,000 for one mistake.
And I completely support this. I don't want to hear any excuses. Most callers that I heard in my brief window were on my team but there were still several who voiced the opinion that this was just too much of a punishment. Nope. Not in my book. People need to get it: you cannot drive when you are under the influence. If hitting you through the pocketbook is the way to get the message across, then so be it.
One of the callers tried to use the "when a person is drinking they don't always realize how tipsy they are" excuse as if this should let them off the hook. Really? How do you figure? Maybe the threat of going into debt to the tune of $15,000 or more will make them think before they get in the car. Some other caller tried to play the "what if there is a medical emergency" card. Right. How coherent and responsible are you going to be after having a few beers? Emergencies require that cool and rational heads prevail, not slightly inebriated ones. Call 911. Or risk creating an even larger medical emergency.
This drinking and driving thing has always been a pet peeve of mine. I know the buzz and the relaxation that comes with a margarita or two. I know it. I like it. A lot. But there is way too much at stake for me to get behind the wheel if I have been drinking. I want it to be that way for everyone.