Make punishment fit the crime

I was sad to read in a reprinted editorial from your newspaper in the Aug. 20 edition of the Laurinburg Exchange that three members of a prominent Robeson County family died possibly due to a driver under the influence of drugs. The editorial stated: “According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, there were 371 traffic deaths — about 29 percent of the total — in North Carolina during 2014 that resulted from someone driving impaired.”

One paragraph began: “No one ever plans on driving drunk … .”

I adamantly disagree. Not only do intoxicated people plan to drive, sober people plan to drive to locations where they can and will get drunk, and do so planning to drive back or on to other locations. Anyone intelligent enough to operate a motor vehicle is intelligent enough to know impaired driving kills. But they also know that the “slap on the hand” consequences for them are not as severe as those of their victims.

There is a simple solution to our nation’s drunk and drugged driving problem: Let the punishment fit the crime. Are three members of a prominent Robeson County family less dead than if they had been killed with a weapon than a vehicle? Considering all the evidence from common knowledge plus public service announcements, shouldn’t intoxicated drivers who injure innocent victims be charged with attempted murder? And those who kill innocent victims be charged with premeditated murder? As for the “no intended victim” argument for premeditation, due to their callous disregard for the obvious, every innocent driver and passenger on America’s highways is their intended victim.

Why were laws serious enough to combat impaired driving not passed decades ago? Could that be because of a negative effect on alcohol industry profits, and the possibility that adequate laws might “come home to roost” on the legislators themselves, and their families and friends? Would punishment that fits the crime work? Would you let your relative or friend drive while impaired if you knew the consequences for them would be just as severe as their victims?

Robert C. Currie Jr.