Lower threshold really best approach?
The May 23 editorial regarding the federal push to lower the blood alcohol concentration threshold from 0.08 to 0.05 (“Take step to curb drunken driving”) was downright mind-boggling. The sheer magnitude of alcohol consumption in a society with easy access to liquor will create numerous unintended consequences if this strategy is used to keep drunks off the roads.
What are liquor establishments to do when nearly all customers are drinking? Line them up before leaving and have them blow into breathalyzers? Perhaps bars should have waiting rooms for those near the limit.
Will our court systems and jails be filled up with low-level offenders, costing taxpayers more money? Monitoring alcohol levels is nearly impossible when considering that everyone weighs differently, eats different amounts and types of food, drinks different levels of booze and that there is always a delayed increase in absorption after you leave the establishment. It’s tricky.
There is a fine line between acceptable alcohol consumption and alcohol misuse. Some people drink because they like the taste, but many drink because they like the effect. The chemical is insidious, and maybe one day it will be socially unacceptable, just like smoking. Perhaps the access is what should be limited. There are ways to curb dangerous drinking and driving, but I am just not sure lowering the blood alcohol level to 0.05 is the best of them.
Sharon E. Carlson, Andover
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The proposal to lower a driver’s legal blood alcohol limit to 0.05 percent has a statistical basis. It should be recalled that Prohibition in the 1920s also proved to have a statistical basis in that it did reduce alcohol-related deaths, illnesses and social problems. Nevertheless, it was reviled, ignored and removed by the American people.
Unlike much of Europe, the United States has urban sprawl and the absence of both decent public transportation and neighborhood pubs. A 0.05 percent limit would effectively mean that citizens could lawfully consume alcohol only in their own homes. History suggests that Americans would again choose to be lawbreakers rather than teetotalers.
Curtis H. Foster, Minneapolis
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JOURNALISM AND IDEOLOGY
To those who detect rightward movement
It caught me a bit off-guard when a May 20 letter writer complained that the Star Tribune has right-leaning tendencies. Gee, I was of the opinion that it’s just the opposite. The paper leans to the left.
The late Joe Dill, who was an editor at the Fargo Forum some years ago, said that it was impossible to please all of the readers all of the time. At that time I had complained that the Forum was too liberal. I wrote him a letter expressing my views, and he was kind enough to write me back (this was before e-mail and all that good electronic stuff).
He wrote me that they tried to give everybody a chance to express their opinions, whether they were conservative, liberal or somewhere in the middle. I guess he had a good point, but according to this Star Tribune letter writer, because Minnesota is a progressive state, we conservatives shouldn’t be allowed to express our tainted views.
And one more thing: The letter writer complained about a conservative political cartoonist. What does he think we conservatives think about Steve Sack, who appears in the Star Tribune far more times than does Dana Summers?
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.