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What Can We Learn From Great Tragedies?

June 08, 1985

One year ago I wrote about the lack of safety of television ads depicting unsafe driving. Today, with great sadness, I write in horror of the danger of the drunk driver. My 16-year-old niece lives no more. Her heart does beat, however, in the chest of a 52-year-old man, and a kidney does function in a 3-year-old girl. Sara was killed April 26 by a drunk driver in Solana Beach.

What can we learn? What can we do besides mourn her tragic and useless passing? Must we continue to accept 25,000 slaughtered Americans annually due to drunk driving? I asked a judge. He said that we are a unique society of drivers, millions and millions of them, and drinkers and drug users, millions and millions of them. Even with stiffer penalties, he stated, we'd never get all the drunk drivers processed, never get juries to concur on long prison terms. "It's somewhat hopeless," he stated.

I say that it is not hopeless. Take the weapon of death away from those clearly out of self-control. Sure, take the license, but also take the car away on the first offense of drunk driving. Force the driver into treatment and make him prove that he is fit to drive again.

Sara had a greater right to life than does the drinking or drug-using driver have a right to drive. Sure, he needs to get to work, etc. Sara needs to live. I urge all people who want to stay alive, and want their loved ones to stay alive, to seriously consider this unsolved and continuing problem on our highways. We must change the laws; we must stop slapping the wrists of the intoxicated killers; the carnage can and must be stopped.

RICHARD B. LEVIN

Encinitas

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