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Contrasting Attitudes Toward Drunk Driving

February 01, 1986

The article about the differences in drinking and driving in Norway and the United States presents some startling and interesting statistics, which I can personalize, based on a recent trip to visit a cousin living in the Norwegian city of Oslo.

My cousin met me and three friends when our cruise ship, the Royal Viking Star, docked. We were shown some of the historical sights of the city and then were driven to his home at a suburb of Oslo.

Wine was served with a festive Norwegian native lunch, but neither my cousin nor his wife drank any alcoholic beverage. We learned why later. When they drove us back to the ship we invited them aboard to see the vessel's facilities and then offered them a farewell cocktail. Only one accepted, because by agreement between themselves the other was to drive home.

My cousin told me it is the general practice when friends go to parties or receptions it is agreed beforehand who will drive and that person doesn't take even one drink. He or she misses the party fun but everyone gets home safely.

That practice indicates the public respect for Norway's tough drunk-driving laws, which, as the article stated, "call for revoking a driver's license for two years and, almost certainly, three weeks in jail for a first offense."

The article surmised that in large part Norwegian laws are so effective because "the people police themselves." Whatever the reason, the system works. I have witnessed it in action. Over there, every driver knows that penalties for drunk driving are swift, severe and sure. In our country, many drivers who drink are willing to take a chance and trust to a variable judicial system.

ROBERT LEE

Newport Beach

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