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Decisions in one’s life are sometimes hard, and generally wind up becoming the right thing to do, or the wrong way of doing it. One decision, of a person drinking and driving on the road in Susquehanna County, sometimes ends up being fatal to another’s well-being, or even to the person who decided to drink and drive. I had a hard look at decision making after viewing a man’s decision of driving while intoxicated in Susquehanna County one night back in March of 2006. The result of his decision making lays in a small grave in the Lakeview Cemetery, and her name is Megan Madeline Thomas. She just turned five years of age that year.
I viewed his decision as his own, but in reality his decision was based on many people’s views on drunk driving. The killing and the murder of your family member, no matter if the drunk driver was the only one killed, or an innocent person was taken is viewed by many as an acceptable murder. It is a murder that is viewed by society in itself, as an acceptable murder with little or no consequences.
My two years on researching the drunk driver, not only in Pennsylvania but throughout the United States, and why it still thrives throughout all the states are based on simple facts. I looked at all the states’ commitments, on stating that it is a privilege to drive in their state. And while many abuses arise, such as drunk driving, and even murdering family members, that privilege to drive is always restored through what is called in Pennsylvania an O.L.L. License (Occupational Limited License). After all, they have to be a useful and productive person to society again. No one ever checks on an O.L.L. carrier; no law enforcement, or anyone, while you drive on this sort of license, to see if it is being abused, and it usually takes two to four weeks to obtain this license after your offense.
How well is it working? Look in your papers and you will see that tragic story: Repeat D.U.I. Offender Kills Family Of 3, or Repeat Offender Kills A Family Of Four, etc. And yet, in one form or another, each and every state has this sort of license.
I also looked at what is called a Dram Shop Act or law, which is not funded or supported, with little or no extra law enforcement to back it. We do sting operations on Internet predators, and sting operations on underage sales to minors on cigarettes, but there are no sting operations under the Dram Shop Act. There are only a few bars in Susquehanna County that want their patrons alive and well, to keep coming back, and will not give a knowingly drunk person another drink. And they will not send them out their doors to meet a potential, unsuspecting victim drunk. They want them to return to their establishment alive again. But there are a lot of bars that do not care, and they make a profit off the patrons and ship them out their doors drunk, knowing that they had to drive there by vehicle. These bars think that it is another one’s problem, once they cross their doors to the outside, to maybe become victims themselves, or kill another man’s family. And then try to get witnesses, that the bartender gave this person another drink after knowing that this person was already drunk. Try to get a bartender or bar owner to admit that they did do this after the person killed your family. Many drunk drivers and their lawyers claim the 14th Amendment of the Constitution to get off their crimes against the public. But, they also forget that they dismiss and destroy the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness of the victim that they just took the life of. Commodities, bars, bartenders, politicians, bureaus, alcohol industries, charity organizations, revenues and society in itself left my grand-daughter with no rights and eventually, her untimely death.
These same things will end your own family’s right to live, too. Your family is more important than another man’s profit or revenue, that they make on another person’s decision to drink and drive. And they certainly are more important than an organization claiming under a mission statement that they will do away with the drunk driver in the United States, even though they did a lot of good when they first started. Placing interlock systems and monitoring bracelets on drunk drivers is not doing away with a drunk driver, and giving back that privilege to drive is not doing away with drunk driving. No amount of money in the world could replace your loved one’s life.
And yet, we all sit back and let this keep going on, year after year. This year, during election time, the theme in our politics is “For Change.” This is one of those changes we need, and these are only two laws that I researched, but I imagine there are a lot more laws out there. We do not give back the privilege to drive after someone has done the same act, over and over again, repeatedly. But I am afraid it is also true. Even after the person has killed another innocent person. I could say a lot more, but this editorial is long as it is.
I will leave you with these final thoughts. You, as a person and individual can bring this change yourself, by writing and speaking to your Representatives and Senators in Pennsylvania, asking for this change. My granddaughter lost her life over a bar and a bartender’s profit that night of around $20 to $30, because they did not care about this person, or even the public, who was already drunk, and served him more alcohol. Her pursuit of life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness ended that night. Are your family members or loved ones worth more than this? Megan was my only granddaughter, but that loss is felt by all the grandparents and great-grandparents, but also especially by my daughter and son-in-law.
I leave you now with this final quote: “The dead cannot cry out for justice! It is the duty of the living to do so for them!”
I am not against anyone drinking. But I am against that person who is drunk behind the wheel of a vehicle, and also the persons that knowingly put them there in the first place.
Edwin I. Lindsey Jr.
TO THE EDITOR POLICY
Thank you, Susquehanna County Transcript
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