Ronald W. Cram of Santa Ana could be the poster boy for campaigns against drunk driving.
Santa Ana police, making good use of a $374,000 state grant to track down repeat drunk drivers, arrested Cram last week on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. Cram said in a jailhouse interview he would plead guilty and serve his time. It will be his 12th drunk-driving violation. Prison, accidents, a driver's license suspension--none have stopped Cram from getting behind the wheel when he shouldn't.
His case illustrates the importance of maintaining the fight against drunk drivers. This is so despite a decline in such violations in recent years, a decline attributable to tougher laws, educational campaigns and society's growing intolerance of those who drink and drive.
Police say some offenders shape up after their first arrest for driving under the influence. Many can benefit from court-ordered counseling programs, which are cheaper to the taxpayer than continually locking up offenders. But almost everyone agrees that offenders, if they are to benefit, must admit they need help. Cram said the alcohol rehabilitation centers he went to were no help because he does not have a problem.
Orange County Municipal Judge Pamela L. Iles for two years has been trying to get a bill passed to start new drunk-driving rehabilitation programs in Orange County aimed at repeat offenders. She deserves support. Although Iles knows that simply forcing the drivers to stay out of their cars isn't the long-term solution that rehabilitation promises, she helped write a bill allowing the state to confiscate and sell the cars of drivers caught with a suspended license for a second time. A pilot program in South County, it is likely to be expanded.
The progress in the battle against drunk driving has been heartening. But the need for programs like the ones in Santa Ana and South County is evident and shows that the problem still is far from solved.