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Jerry Davich: Lower the limit for drunken driving

Jerry Davich. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media

Jerry Davich. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media

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The middle-aged Porter County businessman spoke with a slur before walking precariously back to his vehicle after attending his son’s school event.

Was he just tired? Drunk yet again? Or possibly under the influence of prescription drugs? Maybe the perfect storm of all three factors? I wasn’t sure, which is why I didn’t call 911 to report another drunken driver on the roads. But I seriously thought about it.

I certainly can’t wait on the law of averages for police to catch a drunken driver. Intoxicated motorists typically don’t get pulled over, tested and arrested until the 80th time of committing such an offense, according to data from Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

That’s right, it’s estimated that repeated boozers behind the wheel have driven drunk roughly 80 times before they get their first DUI arrest. How pathetic is that? How ridiculous? How dangerous?

This is why despite public opinion and even criticism from some experts, I fully support the National Transportation Safety Board’s recent recommendation for states to lower the legal blood alcohol level for drivers to .05, from .08.

In real world terms, it means the average adult man could drink three alcoholic beverages in one hour, and the average woman could down two while staying under the legal limit. Of course some of them would be legally intoxicated at that point, depending on various factors.

The federal agency says the recommended stricter limit would curb the number of drunk driving-related deaths on U.S. roadways, citing that one third of all auto deaths involve drunken drivers. Such statistics don’t matter to most people, especially to ones who nonchalantly view drinking and driving as a matter of lifestyle, not as life or death.

Unlike most Americans who complacently view drinking and driving like eating and watching TV, I have zero tolerance for drunken driving of any kind. I’m all for sobriety checkpoints, too.

Critics of the change say such a new law, even if adopted by states, would not be enforced anyway, leading to a waste of time by legislators and law enforcement agencies.

I understand that lowering the blood-alcohol legal limit will not stop people from downing a few cold ones and getting behind a wheel. I see this being done on a daily basis, even by close friends and family members. But it may make them at least think twice before doing so, if they’re able to do it.

Last week alone, two region residents (at least) were pulled over and arrested for drunken driving while having kids in the car. Both drivers were women, but more men typically commit this offense, intoxicated also by their ego, arrogance, and ability to avoid a DUI arrest.

I know for a fact that the Porter County businessman who I watched ramble back to his vehicle has been driving under the influence of such brazen ignorance through the years. But, I can only hope, his time is coming.

It’s common knowledge that he is well past his 80th time of being smashed while behind the wheel, and he’s long overdue for being behind the proverbial eight ball.

Meals on Wheels update

My recent column on Meals on Wheels of Northwest Indiana ran on the same day as a new national study with information detailing the devastating impact of the federally mandated budget cuts known as sequester.

Released by the Meals on Wheels Association of America, and based on a survey of programs across the country, its findings reveal nearly 70 percent of respondents have reduced the number of meals served to the nation’s hungry and homebound seniors.

Among those findings are these disturbing figures:

Programs have been forced to cut, on average, 364 meals per week;

Over 70 percent are establishing or adding to existing waiting lists;

Programs have increased their waiting lists on average by 58 seniors;

40 percent of programs have eliminated staff positions and one in six is closing congregate meals sites or home-delivered meal programs.

“The real impact of sequester is that our programs don’t have the ability to expand to meet the growing need,” said Meals on Wheels Association President and CEO Ellie Hollander in a statement.

Shut up, I’m driving

In the “Duh, what else is new” department, spouses make the worst “backseat drivers,” according to an Insurance.com study.

The agency polled 500 drivers, and one third of women respondents say their husbands are the worst backseat drivers. Mothers are the next to worst, followed by friends. Surprisingly, teenagers ranked lower than I expected on the list.

The biggest “annoyances” included: Comments on driving speed (47 percent); giving directions (29 percent); talking too much (19 percent), and slamming the “imaginary brake” (15 percent). Texting, singing, and eating followed suit.

Taste of Care

On Thursday evening, I served as a food-tasting judge (the best kind) at the 5th annual Taste of Care event at the Porter County Expo Center.

The event featured various chefs of NWI retirement communities and assisted living facilities to showcase their culinary creations. Wow, did it ever. The dishes were absolutely delicious, and the hospitality by Prompt Ambulance Service was top notch.

Plus, proceeds went to the Porter County Triad organization. Compliments to the chef of this tasty event.

‘I talk to Jesus everyday’

In memory of Rudy Clay, who died last Tuesday, here is the link to my Casual Fridays radio show conversation with the former Gary mayor on his last day in public office.

My favorite excerpt is Mr. Clay explaining to me how to best prepare fruit cocktail, as well as his daily conversations with Jesus.

To listen to the entire on-air chat, visit http://lakeshorepublicmedia.org/jerry-davich-talks-with-rudy-clay/.



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