Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Use-lose law; not OK to not enforce

There was an article in the Chicago Tribune a couple of days ago about the “use-lose” law under which underage kids caught (and convicted of) drinking or being drunk have their driver’s license suspended for a short period of time (3 months with a first offense), even if driving was not involved in or around the drinking incident.

I think the law is an important step forward in limiting underage drinking and the deaths that result from underage drinking. Keep in mind that many of those deaths do not involve driving, nor do most incidents of date rape (alcohol is the number one date rape drug), but affecting their ability to drive will get their attention and is an effective punishment.

I think it borders on criminal that the enforcement of the law is inconsistent (the focus of the article) and think it is great that Lake County leads the state in enforcing the law. Let’s keep it up.

One comment irritated me:
"It is still going after the child, who is a victim of the alcohol industry," said Janet Williams, co-chairwoman of the Illinois Coalition to Stop Underage Drinking.

It is nonsense to think of these kids as victims. While I agree that some ads and some alcohol containing beverages are aimed at kids, it is wrong to write the kids off as (apparently) brainwashed victims. We can give kids the tools to resist this brainwashing if it is taking place at all (making something attractive doesn’t demand use). [The “brainwashing” if it is there at all is more following observed patterned behaviors of others.] We need to put information in their hands and in their heads about the effects of alcohol on their brains and the effects of alcohol on their lives (and deaths). It must be given to them truthfully, repeatedly and in various forms. Their parents and their schools and society must all do their part.

We must be consistent in communicating that underage drinking is not OK.

I will continue to do my part; you must get the information and do yours as well.

Make good choices, don’t take chances.


The Erstwhile Medic said...

Well said.

meyerhq said...

Keep in mind that many of those deaths do not involve driving, nor do most incidents of date rape (alcohol is the number one date rape drug),

Is there a mistake in that sentence, or am I just confused (if I am, never mind)?

I have trouble understanding the parents who permit and even encourage drinking in their homes. I was raised in a home with little drinking (not teetotaling, my parents just didn't drink much at all), so maybe that's why. Read about another one the other day who I guess was charged. Don't they remember the parents who were taken to court, that got so much media attention? Do they feel immune, because fatal accidents don't usually ensue?

I took up the issue once with another mother when I found out our kids would drink at their friends' homes, and she extremely condescendingly told me that's what everyone does. It's hard to fight that in a community.

Anonymous said...

IMO - the entire underage situation with regards to drugs and alcohol ~ even if the license is suspended the kids are going to continue to drink or do drugs anyway - zero tolerance would be ideal but not feasible at this time yet ~ politics is getting in the way!
- wouldn't it be fun to put these kids under house arrest instead of slapping their hand that picked up that beer with a pair of handcuffs so to speak -
(grounding, go to the corner and sit - time outs, writing on the blackboard - "I will not drink, I will not do drugs" a gazillion times")so doesn't cut it anymore ~

- tough love starting at home -

"first time shame on you second time shame on me" -

What if that second time ends in a visit to your office?

just my .02 cents worth!

Dr. Richard Keller said...

The sentence (clumsily) was meant to convey that it is good to crack down on underage drinking for reasons other than drinking and driving. Other behaviors and outcomes can occur with underage drinking, so a law like this use-lose law addresses underage drinking more broadly than just addressing drinking and driving.