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Web letter by Warren Scheidt: States best equipped to crack down effectively on DUI

The National Transportation Safety Board recently recommended that states lower their blood-alcohol content levels for drunk driving from .08 to .05.

As a former law enforcement officer, I have seen firsthand the effects of drunk driving. I encourage our legislators to consult with local police, prosecutors and judges to get a better understanding of the effect that lowering BAC thresholds to .05 would have on our communities. Terms such as “impairment,” “enforceability” and “effectiveness” are more than just words when you’re on the job.

As a local businessman and member of the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers, our association has supported laws and initiatives by the state and local communities to stop drunk driving. This has included measures to target high-BAC and repeat offenders with tougher laws. We have also fought for states’ rights and Indiana’s ability to determine how best to keep Hoosiers safe.

As a vice president of American Beverage Licensees, which represents Indiana bars, taverns and package stores in Washington, D.C., I have seen seemingly well-intentioned federal incentives, like those that NTSB has recommended, turn into burdensome and wrong-headed unfunded mandates.

As a husband and a father, the last thing I want is to hamper the ability of our law enforcement professionals to keep drunk drivers off the road. Neighborhood bars and package liquor stores are committed to being the first line of defense in fighting drunk driving.

Lowering the BAC from .08 to .05 would redirect the already-limited resources of Indiana law enforcement away from high-BAC and chronic drunk drivers – those who are most dangerous. Instead, it would make a criminal out of anyone going out to dinner, coming home from a wedding or stopping at the local bar on their way home from work.

No one supports drunk driving – especially small business owners with strong ties to their communities. Rather than lowering the BAC to .05, let’s focus on addressing drunk driving by strengthening proven, data-driven programs that have made our roads the safest they’ve been in three decades.

WARREN SCHEIDT

Columbus

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