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Proposed OVI law change not an easy sell



Published: Thu, May 30, 2013 @ 12:01 a.m.

photo

Lou Kennedy, owner of Royal Oaks bar on the East Side of Youngstown, talks about his opposition to a proposal to lower the limit to be considered driving drunk from 0.08 to 0.05.

By JOE GORMAN | jgorman@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

A National Transportation Safety Board proposal to lower the blood alcohol content to be considered driving drunk from 0.08 to 0.05 is meeting with skeptics in some quarters.

Lou Kennedy, owner of the Royal Oaks bar on Oak Street, said he does not think the new proposal would do much to cut down on drunken driving, and will only increase arrests for people accused of driving under the influence as well as cut down on alcohol sales.

He said hardcore drinkers will not be deterred by the lowering of the limit, but other customers will.

“People who drink, drink,” Kennedy said. “It’s the other people that come out. It’s the husband and wife that go out to dinner and the wife will be afraid to have a glass of wine. It’ll cut into alcohol sales.”

The NTSB earlier this month recommended the limit be cut. It based the recommendation on the fact that 100 countries have a limit of 0.05 and they have far less accidents and fatalities from drunken drivers. It would equal one drink for a woman weighing 120 pounds and two drinks for a man weighing 160 pounds.

Youngstown Police Detective Sgt. Patricia Garcar runs the Accident

Investigation Unit for her department and said she does not believe lowering the limit will help to decrease the number of serious crashes.

She said in all the serious crashes with alcohol she’s investigated usually the driver’s limit is way over 0.08.

“I’ve never had one that low [0.05],” Garcar said. “It’s been

significantly higher.”

Campbell police Detective Sgt. John Rusnak also said he does not think lowering the limit would do much to curb drunken-driving accidents. He said serious accidents involving drunk drivers are often caused by people who are much over the legal limit.

“They’re way over 0.10,” Rusnak said.

He also said it would cause normal people who only wanted a drink or two to be afraid they were breaking the law — and it would not stop serious drinkers from getting drunk.

“A drinker’s going to drink,” Rusnak said.

Calls to the local Ohio State Highway Patrol posts were referred to spokeswoman Lt. Anne Ralston in Columbus.

She said troopers who pull a driver off the road they think is impaired weigh several factors before seeking a test for their blood-alcohol content.

She stressed that the proposal by the NTSB is just a recommendation and did not say either way if the

patrol supports or disapproves of the proposal.

Ralston said she remembers when the state limit was 0.10 before it was lowered, and the message to drivers is the same now as it was then: To make sure they think before they decide to drink and drive a vehicle.

John Lavanty, owner of Nicolinni’s Ristorante in Austintown said he does not think the proposal would

affect his business that much because it does not have a bar that stays open all night. But he did add he could see it cutting into alcohol sales at places that have a large bar business.

Michael Pasquale, owner

of the Boulevard Tavern on Southern Boulevard in Youngstown, said such a change probably would not hurt his business much

because he does not sell hard liquor and most of his business is food.

He did say he could see businesses that cater to younger customers taking a hit, however.

“They’ll take it on the chin,” Pasquale said.

Kennedy of Royal Oaks said he thinks the proposal is nothing more than someone in the federal government having too much free time on their hands.

“It’s just more legislation,” Kennedy said. “It’s somebody’s job as a lawmaker to make up more laws.”

U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson,

R-Marietta, said in an email he thinks drunken driving is a serious problem, but

individual states should study the NTSB recommendation to see if it is best for their

individual state.

“Drunk driving is a very serious issue, and determining the threshold at which point responsible behavior becomes impaired is both important and difficult,” Johnson said.

State Rep. Sean O’Brien, D-Brookfield, is an attorney

and former Trumbull

County Prosecutor in Eastern and Central District courts. He said he does not think lowering the thres-hold would be a good idea because it would lead to more litigation.

He said lawyers would be handling more OVI cases and it would clog up the court system.

O’Brien said since he has been an attorney the limit has been lowered from 1.5 to 1.0 to 0.08 and he wondered low it could go.

“To keep lowering it you might as well be saying there’s no drinking and driving at all,” O’Brien said.

O’Brien said the measure is one he would probably

oppose at this time given all he knows if it ever came to the floor for a vote.


Comments

1Jerry(498 comments)posted 1 year, 3 months ago

I have a better proposal which would not involve more police intrusion into our lives, reduces the risk of inadvertent violation of the law, and virtually cures the problem of drunk driving in very short order.

Instead of lowering the limit, raise the limit back to 0.10%

Don’t increase enforcement efforts, simply change the penalties:

1st offense – Loss of license and all driving privileges for one year. No other possible sentence. No discretion, no mitigating circumstances, no consideration for school or employment. No driving, period.

2nd offense – Loss of license and all driving privileges for five years. No other possible sentence. No discretion, no mitigating circumstances, no consideration for school or employment. No driving, period.

3rd offense - Loss of license and all driving privileges for life. No other possible sentence. No discretion, no mitigating circumstances, no consideration for school or employment. No driving, period.

Driving (drunk, sober, or otherwise) while license is suspended as described above – life in prison with no possibility of parole. No other possible sentence, No discretion, no mitigating circumstances, no excuses. NO DRIVING, PERIOD.

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2parlayhenry(219 comments)posted 1 year, 3 months ago

I agree with the comment above; raise the limit back to 0.1% (for those of you out there who are math challenged, 0.10% has no meaning; that trailing zero should not be there).

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3Photoman(1003 comments)posted 1 year, 3 months ago

Wouldn't this be wonderful? We could have police near almost any restaurant with a bar and, whoopee, income from a new checkpoint. So many freedoms are gradually being eroded as we sit idly by.

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4LtMacGowan(643 comments)posted 1 year, 3 months ago

You do realize that people would just drive anyway with out a license.

If you revoked some one's license for the rest of their lives with no hope of getting it back they ll just drive illegally with out insurance.

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5glbtactivist(249 comments)posted 1 year, 3 months ago

Or just ban bars and parties. That is what having a limit of .05 really is doing: making drinking a thing that people can only do alone at home.

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6islandgrump(59 comments)posted 1 year, 3 months ago

Does designated driver, cab or limo mean anything to anyone??

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7dees2cents(38 comments)posted 1 year, 3 months ago

O'Brien said to keep lowing it , you might as well be saying there is no drinking and driving at all...... hello, that is what it is now. You can blow below the legal limit and still get an OVI, because it is still driving under the influence. Big money maker is all it is!

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8walter_sobchak(1907 comments)posted 1 year, 3 months ago

dees2cents is correct. The 0.08% BAC limit is the presumptive limit for intoxicated driving. Someone can blow a lower amount but still fail field sobriety tests or show outward signs of intoxication. You can be arrested after taking on dose of Nyquil! Most accidents seem to occur when the driver is close to 0.2% BAC The limit should be raised back to 0.1%. I can tell you that I am far safer driving at 0.1% than other people that drive while yaking on a cellphone or texting.

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9JoeFromHubbard(1038 comments)posted 1 year, 3 months ago

From dees2cents: >> Big money maker is all it is! <<

Having a few drinks at the local pub never was much of a problem.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving made it a much larger issue. When the trial lawyers and local governments realized the revenue possibilities blessed by the shift in attitudes MADD et al had started, there was no going back.

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10anothermike(211 comments)posted 1 year, 3 months ago

Reducing the limit any further doesn't mean much....usually a genuine "drunk driver" is way over either number. Changing the rule from DWI to DUI already made it a catch all. Suspending license for super long periods of time (for many infractions) is ludicris (not the rapper) since they will simply drive anyway and take their chances. Making all laws mandatory is good for some things but can be a little dangerous for most......

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11LtMacGowan(643 comments)posted 1 year, 3 months ago

you do realize it costs about $80,000 a year to imprison a person in jail. Assume a person has his license permanently revoked. He gets his friend to go and purchase a vehicle. So both of them go to jail. If they are in jail for a year each then you've spent $160,000 to keep non violent people locked up. For the same price you could have paid for 3 teachers or 3-4 Police Officers.

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12123goz(580 comments)posted 1 year, 3 months ago

Explain to me how each additional inmate costs as much as the 1st one. The prison is there, the guards are there, the lights are on, etc.
What happened to Economies of scale? Except for food consumed and water used, there should be no extra expense per prisoner. If there was 1 inmate, he would generate all costs, adding an inmate, the cost would be half per inmate, not double.
80k would keep them at a nice condo.

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13LtMacGowan(643 comments)posted 1 year, 3 months ago

that is the total sum of the average number of inmates housed in the Mahoning County Jail (Non Federal inmates) then taking the total operating costs of the jail and dividing.

You have to provide 3 meals a day, pay the guards, provide Medical and Dental care, Psychiatric services, Court transportation costs, Heating, Electric, Water etc etc.

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14123goz(580 comments)posted 1 year, 3 months ago

"...then taking the total operating costs of the jail and dividing."
That's what I say, so the cost per inmate goes down as they are added. Your figure of 80k-160k does not follow that rule.

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15LtMacGowan(643 comments)posted 1 year, 3 months ago

Well that is the official cost as reported by the jail. Take it up with them.

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