Our Opinion

Impaired drivers a key hazard

The Nevada Department of Transportation is seeking feedback this week, looking for ways to make Highway 50 at Lake Tahoe safer.
While Highway 395 might seem to be the more dangerous of the two interstate highways that bisect Douglas County, lately impaired driving has cost at least one innocent person their life very nearly every year for the last three years.
It was a miracle that only one person was killed on March 7 when someone crossed into another vehicle’s lane and sent it careening onto the hood of an oncoming vehicle.
Both of the collisions that claimed lives on Highway 50 in 2020 and 2019 involved a driver who crossed into another person’s lane.
District Judge Tod Young doesn’t mince words when he’s talking to people who’ve been convicted of driving under the influence.
He calls them potential killers to their faces.
“That you didn’t kill someone isn’t your fault,” he’s said more than once.

There’s a reason why a third DUI in seven years carries a mandatory prison sentence. While those facing that felony can qualify for a diversion program, any subsequent DUI is treated as a felony and can result in 2-15 years in prison.

And a felony DUI with death or substantial bodily harm is a Category A felony punishable by up to two decades in prison.

And yet people who should absolutely know better fail to have a plan that doesn’t include driving when they drink.

We don’t care how much these folks drink, as long as they stay off the road. By the time they’re facing prison, they’ve had ample opportunity to mend their ways and the only option to keep the rest of us safe is to get them off the road for as long as possible.

With a long Fourth of July weekend coming up in slightly more than a week, we know that there will be folks who decide getting in their vehicle despite being impaired is more important than anything or anyone else in the world.

And it’s left to the rest of us to pick up the pieces after that behavior winds up killing or seriously injuring someone.



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