Today's Letters: Impaired drivers are real menace

Published May 17, 2007

Leave DUI charge out of newspaper May 15 letter

In recent months I have noted more than one letter where the writer seems to feel that DUI enforcement is overdone or that the punishment does not fit the crime.

The letter writer states that the teacher in question was much easier and safer to apprehend than the real bad guy with a weapon. I would state that a vehicle in the hands of a drunk is in fact a dangerous weapon as is noted in the all-too-frequent vehicle accident reports in Pasco County where drinking is involved.

Ross G. Olson, New Port Richey

Leave DUI charge out of newspaper May 15 letter

DUI laws unfair - to crash victims

It is clear that the letter writer believes that the punishment does not fit the crime with DUI laws. Neither do I.

In 1999, I and a fellow motorcyclist were severely injured when a drunken driver swerved into our lane and hit us. The hospital bills for myself, the other rider and his passenger totaled over $120, 000. These bills were covered by our health insurance because the drunken offender had insufficient insurance. The drunken driver also had insufficient insurance to cover the damage to our vehicles, so my motorcycle insurance had to cover it. Subsequently, my insurance rates went up, as did those of the other rider. Does that sound fair?

The drunken driver told the police that he "only had a couple of beers." However many beers that actually was, it was clearly enough to impair him. My injuries are permanent, requiring attention and pain control on a daily basis. The drunk's penalty? A small fine. My penalty? A life sentence of pain and the inability to do the physical activities I did before the drunk's irresponsible actions. Does that sound fair?

So the letter writer is concerned that the police are being overzealous and the Times is deplorable for publishing the picture of a teacher who chose to drink and drive. He thinks it's unfair.

So, allow me to state that I also do not think DUI laws are fair. If I had my way, anyone who took so much as one drink and got behind the wheel would be subject to imprisonment for six months and loss of license for at least five years on the first offense. Second offense would get a mandatory three years in jail and lifetime revocation of their license. With those tough measures, law-abiding citizens would stop engaging in this irresponsible behavior and habitual drunks would eventually all find themselves in jail. Problem solved, and it sounds very fair to me.

Scott Factor, New Port Richey

911 response puzzles caller

I am sure that I see only my personal experience with 911, which is one-sided, and I would welcome someone who can enlighten me on the other side.

Recently, while at work and on the phone with a client, I heard a loud crash that seemed to be from colliding cars in the parking lot of my office building. Seconds later, there was a thunderous crash that actually shook the building. My caller even heard it over the phone line. About 10 feet from my front window I saw the back end of a car sticking out of the occupied and normally busy office space immediately next to mine.

All of this took place in a matter of seconds. My first instinct was to pick up the phone at the nearest desk and dial 911 for help. I identified myself, my phone number and my address, and proceeded to give the dispatcher a quick and precise description of the situation. I called 911 because I deemed this to be a pretty serious situation where we could have had some serious injuries, not to mention fire and/or partial building collapse.

The first question out of the dispatcher's mouth was, "Is anyone hurt?" Well, stupid me, here I'm looking at the butt end of a car sticking out of an office building that people are evacuating, and I didn't think to take the extra time to do medical evaluations. Is it my responsibility to do that prior to calling 911? I realize the more information I can provide, the better for the dispatcher; however, they had to realize that was not a common occurrence and at the very least, in my opinion, it was an emergency that needed immediate attention.

A few years back I was involved in a car accident. I thought that I was fine, but the responding EMTs insisted that they take me to the emergency room to be checked out. Did I feel okay? Did I look okay? Yes, only to find that I did have internal injuries. I, like most people, am not medically trained and have no idea if someone is actually hurt.

I do not feel that I should have to make a judgment call on anyone's state of health in an emergency situation. I was looking at what I thought was an emergency situation that needed immediate attention from some kind of emergency response personnel.

My call was sent off to the Police Department! Is this what I should expect when calling 911? I think not. I'll think twice in the future. I'd like to know (for next time) when an emergency is actually an emergency.

Charles A. Poppelreiter, Hudson

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