Driving under the Influence, DUI

 

When I read a month or so that the Wisconsin legislature was taking up new legislation to curb drunken driving,I was gratified that we might see some action.Here are some second thoughts about some details to improve the new rules.

 

Early in my career people with a diagnosis of epilepsy were forbidden to drive.Medications to control the disease became so effective that most such people are now appropriately permitted to drive.Similarly people with active alcoholism, a disease, should not be permitted to drive.Ordinary folks get the message not to drink and drive before they even get their first arrest for DUI.A second arrest is virtual proof of the presence of the disease, alcoholism.Such people should not be permitted to drive until their disease has been successfully treated.

 

The escalating provisions of the new bill with more and more jail time for subsequent offenses is an example of incarceromania, the mindless jailing of nonviolent people who could be good citizens or even good parents if they were not in jail.This is a waste of money and peopleís lives.

 

Let us cancel the driverís license and require successful treatment for alcoholism of all people convicted of DUI more than once before restoring their drivers licenses.Save jail for those who drive without a license.We might need a few more spot checks of people coming out of taverns and getting into the drivers seat of cars and even extemporaneous road blocks for checking drivers licenses at strategic times and places, much less expense than building more jails.

 

Note well: drug addiction is also just one more disease.Here lies the origin of our new word incarceromania (and much jail building).

 

John A. Frantz, MD

March 18, 2009