Impairment is impairment

December 8, 2012

I am astounded by the editorial reactions and apparent support for the legalization of small amounts of marijuana. They reflect a narrow view of the increased dangers this would bring to the public.

Every year for the last several years, legislatures across the country—including Indiana’s—have wrestled with the sales of “bath salts,” “spice” and other chemicals sold under the table or in plain sight. This has caused considerable havoc with young people in accidents and hospitalizations. We annually modify legislation just to keep up with the new compounds. In addition, we are constantly attempting to control the precursors of the “meth” epidemic.

For nearly my entire career, including 11 years of advocating for 0.08 blood alcohol content standards for driving while impaired, I have felt the pain, grief and sorrows created by selfish, irresponsible drivers who drank too much and killed or maimed moms, dads, grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters. In Indiana, the law requires a blood draw on any serious bodily injury or death caused on our roads and streets. For those driving while impaired, a significant amount of blood draws will also show drugs are in the offending driver’s body

Since the enactment of 0.08 standards, we have seen a significant decrease in highway deaths and injuries. Better enforcement and other conditions have obviously assisted in these lower numbers, but believe me, with many individuals, it made a life change. As we still see, it has not changed everyone’s attitudes, and many continue to drink and drive.

The naysayers will now ask me, “Well, then shouldn’t you ban alcohol?” That question was answered when Prohibition was overturned. The question should be, “Why legalize another impairment for those who will then drive?” Impairment is impairment, whether it’s from drugs, alcohol or anything that affects your judgment and coordination.

State Sen. Tom Wyss
R-Fort Wayne

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