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Drunk Drivers are Dumb

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shymen

I've lived all over the country and world, my background is in International Affairs, Political Science, and Economics, and I'm a Chicago boy born and bred.

Drunk drivers are dumb.  Drunk drivers who purposely try to hit cyclists are even dumber.  Not sure if you know where I'm going with this, but last year in Brookfield this actually happened.  On May 31, 2009, Erik Fabian and Armando Reza got drunk, went behind the wheel, and played the game "hit the cyclist;" they were sentenced to two years probation, and ten days in jail, respectively.  This relatively light sentence has caused a great deal of outrage in the Chicago cycling community (led by the Active Transportation Alliance's effort), sparking debate all across the country.  (Streetsblog wrote an informative write-up, check it out.)

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I think there should be penalties for hitting a cyclist, drunk or sober, and I think these two boys should have received graver penalties.  Thankfully, neither "hunted" cyclist was injured, but it brings up the question, how do these bike related accidents keep happening?  And why are the punishments so light?  First, the 2 girls killed down state, and now this case, how can we stop it?

To me the answer all lies in the drunk driving element of this case.  I believe the penalty for what happened in Brookfield was unacceptable and not severe enough, but less because they hit a cyclist, and more because they were driving drunk.  Drunk driving is a huge problem in this country and we need much stricter regulation.  In some places in Central America, the penalty for driving drunk is anywhere from a $1,000 fine, to a year in jail, to the stripping of your driver's license for life.  To me, a night in jail, loss of license for a few months, traffic school, probation, or whatever it is across the US, is deplorable.  Thus, an event such as this one might never have happened to begin with if our government had the cajones to give stricter penalties for driving drunk.

Therefore, I don't think these kids should get a more severe punishment because of the fact that they hit people on bikes, I think they should get more severe punishments because they drove drunk.  If someone died due to their little game, I'd assume the verdict would have been different, but we can end all of these problems by making drunk drivers truly suffer.

I understand why the bike community wants to see these kids rot in jail, but I don't think they are the sole ones to blame; I partially blame the government too.  The commercials that say, "You drink, you drive, you lose," clearly are not doing enough.  Let's vamp up our effort against drunk driving, create stricter punishments, and make the streets safer not only for cyclists, but for all pedestrians.

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1 Comment

carfreechicago said:

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I see your point, but I strongly disagree. This is about way more than just drunk driving. This is about intentionally using a vehicle as a weapon to harm another human being. It should be treated no differently if it's a drunk person using a car vs. a drunk person using a gun to hurt others. But for some reason these actions are excusable because it's a car. Is it a class issue, like crack vs. cocaine? Middle-class suburbanites drive and poor urban people walk and bike? Imagine if this was instead a drunk man walking down the side of the road shooting a gun at passing cars for fun. I guarantee you the sentence would have been much more harsh.

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