A Higher Standard of Behavior

Back in my college days, zooming down the highway with my boyfriend in his extra tall 4X4 while watching the Coors cans sail into the back of the truck did not seem out of line. Everybody drank beer on a road trip.

Slowly weaving the same truck home from a too late night at a dance and beer bash also was not unknown or badly thought of.

But, with thanks from every innocent person driving or walking the roads, in the past fifteen years attitudes have changed.

While no one pretends that drunk driving doesn't still occur, few people now consider it O.K. A DUI is cause for embarrassment, at least, and some very inconvenient consequences also. Its acceptable, even expected, for friends to insist their intoxicated companions accept a ride home.

I heartily approve of this change in attitude and was distressed to read of a veteran Sonoma County sheriff's captain's arrest on June 9 for a suspected Drunk Driving accident. The Sheriff ran over his wife in the driveway of their home. Both were arriving home drunk after a party.

Our police are only human, I am reminded, and I know that is true. But our law enforcement people are also role models. I believe that reductions in drunk driving accidents are not so much a result of the increase in penalties as the decrease in community acceptance of the act.

Police are held to a higher standard of behavior because their actions carry extra weight in the eyes of the public.

In this incident it is not just the actions of an individual Sheriff that are noticed, but the police community. The party the sheriff and his wife had attended was a retirement party for a Marin county officer.

"Friends don't let friends drive drunk." we hear on the T.V. But it seems that police do. Indications are that the sheriff and his wife were both clearly intoxicated when they left the party. A full four hours after the accident the sheriff's blood alcohol was still above the legal limit

While we all know that a person who is drunk is in no condition to rationally access their abilities to operate a vehicle, I have to assume that there were at least a few people at the party sober enough to recognize that this officer was having some trouble. I would have liked to have seen at least one of them have the guts to do what our culture now (rightly) expects of all of us.

That is to stop an obviously drunk person from getting behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.

By Suli Marr