We have been following the 2010 campaign for Rhode Island Attorney General very closely.
Now, on the heels of a questionable opinion piece by Republican Erik Wallin in which urban youth are said to be terrorists, Democratic candidate Steve Archambault this week unveiled a 4 point plan to combat Rhode Island ’s serious drunk driving problem (nearly 1 out of every 2 traffic fatalities are caused by people driving under the influence).
Archambault’s plan includes the following:
- Making it a felony punishable up to 4 years in prison for driving under the influence with a child 15 or under in the car. Penalties would be increased significantly if the child is injured or killed. This proposed law is based on one recently passed by the state of New York .
- Requiring an interlock device to be installed after a first offense if the blood alcohol content (b.a.c.) is 1.5 or above and after all second offenses. This device acts as an alcohol breathalyzer and requires drivers to prove they are sober before the engine will start. Intermittent checks of the device would also be included. A recent study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that repeat drunk driving offenses dropped by 65% when interlock devices were installed.
- Requiring mandatory alcohol and drug counseling classes for any reckless driving offense in which the use of alcohol or drugs is present. Even in cases where people are under the legal limit the use of alcohol can contribute to driving recklessly.
- Adding a drug recognition component to the training Rhode Island police officers receive in order that they are better trained to detect people driving while under the influence of drugs.
Archambault, a Smithfield Councilman, local prosecutor, private practice criminal defense attorney and former Jamestown policeman, said the following in a released statement:
“Taken together, these four proposals will better equip us to combat the serious problem of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. As Attorney General, I will work for the enactment of this plan and I will use every tool in the tool box to reduce drunk driving and save lives.”
While punitive and corrective measures are certainly needed, what is missing from this plan, in my opinion, is the reality that so many people drink and drive because the public transit system in this state is so poor. There are very few taxis, buses and trains that cater to a late night drinking crowd. They should.