New Driving Penalties Not Stiff Enough

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Editor:

In response to the article outlining the new stiffer penalties for driving without insurance and driving under the influence, I am compelled to offer an observation and ask a couple of questions.

It appears that the legislature is more concerned with enforcing the mandatory insurance laws than they are with providing any serious penalties for drunk driving, and that is truly sad.

Granted, we must all protect ourselves and others by maintaining adequate insurance on our vehicles; but, in Arizona, the law does not mandate no-fault insurance.

Insurance in Arizona is extremely expensive compared to other states. Why doesn't the legislature institute a no-fault insurance law so that most folks could afford insurance? In every state that has done so, the consumer gets a better deal and better coverage.

Now, compare the fines and levies for driving without insurance with those for driving under the influence. The new laws are a joke.

What fool decided to allow five years to pay a surcharge of $1,250 if they are convicted of drunk driving? That amounts to a fine of $20.83 per month, or less than $1 per day. It means giving up one can of beer a day.

In view of the accidents involving drunk drivers, I would assume that our legislators would put some teeth into any new drunk-driving laws.

In Oregon, for instance, for a first offense, you spend up to 10 days in jail, you loose your driver's license for six months and you get a $1,500 fine. You do not get your license back until the fine is paid in full.

For a second offense, within five years of the first offense, the fine is $2,500, up to one year in jail, one-year license suspension and three years' probation.

Recently, I followed a truck up the hill from our infamous round about and I watched the driver (whom I am sure was drunk) cross the center line 36 times on the way to Pine.

Fortunately, those who met him moved over and managed to get by, but what if they would not have had room to get by? The rough shoulders on Hwy. 87 are not wide enough to serve as a three-lane road.

I wonder when, or if, our legislature will say enough and make drunk driving a real crime instead of the silly inconvenience with meaningless consequences that it is now?

Jim Estess, Pine

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