First-time offenders driving under the influence receive 48 hours of mandatory imprisonment or 100 hours of community service, according to the Kansas Department of Transportation.
They also must attend a drug and alcohol safety-education program and/or treatment program at their own expense.
In addition to this, they are fined $500 to $1,000, their driving privileges are suspended for 30 days and restricted for 330 days, and their vehicles could be impounded for up to one year.
Now, this should make people wary to toss back a few and turn the ignition. However, in 2005 there were 115 fatalities involving a driver with a .08-percent or higher blood-alcohol level in Kansas.
Here in Manhattan, where Aggieville is a popular hot spot on Friday and Saturday nights, many drive home while intoxicated. This should be a rare occurrence, since a DUI conviction stays with you for the rest of your life. But since the punishment is not as harsh as it could be, people are testing their limits with drinking and driving.
Getting a DUI should not be seen as an inconvenience. We are not calling for every person close to the legal limit to get a DUI, but if you are driving and are obviously impaired, you should be pulled over. If you are a danger to yourself or others, you should go to jail. Everyone makes poor choices, but thinking about driving while under the influence should not be such a light decision.
Hopefully legislators will soon see that the numbers of drunk-driving fatalities will continue to rise as long as the punishment is seen as an annoyance rather than a consequence.
Jail and community service shouldn’t be either/or. If you are putting yourself or others at risk, the punishment should be enough to make the fatality numbers decrease.