Interlock law needed

Dear Governor O'Malley,

Please see the article on the front page of Sunday's Sun, "Road to ruin," regarding Thomas Meighan, the alcoholic and substance abuser with a long history of DWI/DUI convictions who is charged in connection with a driving rampage through the city that included the hit-and-run killing of Johns Hopkins student Miriam Frankl. Please also see "Fighting DUI fatalities in Md." on page 15 of the main section of The Sun. Please champion a new Maryland state law requiring even first-time DUI offenders to use an ignition interlock device. There is absolutely no excuse for the General Assembly not to promptly pass this legislation in the January session. Please work with House Judiciary Committee Chairman Joseph F. Vallario Jr. to ensure that he backs this bill.

We Marylanders also need to hold responsible and accountable bleeding-heart, lenient, gullible judges who are quick to hand out second chances to these drunk drivers, accept inane excuses for their not showing up for court dates (without even checking up to verify their excuses), allow them to run away from treatment programs for alcohol and other substances, allow them to stop being supervised, and allow them to stop attending compulsory Alcoholics Anonymous meetings!

Thank you in advance for considering placing your considerable moral weight behind this much-needed and long-overdue legislation to save the lives of, and protect from traumatic injuries, Maryland citizens and visitors to Maryland.

Richard Shannahan

Arguments against ignition interlock are disingenuous

Amazing. The device exists that would virtually eliminate drunken driving ("Fighting DUI fatalities in Md.," Nov. 1), but legislation requiring installation gets nowhere in Annapolis. What a surprise.

Arguments used for not installing ignition interlocks are disingenuous - for instance, that it would be cost prohibitive. Think of all the lives and money that would be saved if the next potential drunken driver couldn't even start the car. How much time and money is wasted processing drunken drivers, from police to corrections officers to judges to judges' assistants to state's attorneys to public defenders to courtroom clerks to probation officers, etc.?

Maybe that's the snag. No legislator is willing to enact a law that may end up downsizing the law enforcement/corrections officers/court employees/probation officers et al. and their respective unions. Those people vote. Those jobs vote. The heck with really doing anything about the deaths of innocent people.

Those devices should be standard equipment on every car on the road. How about using some stimulus money for that? I imagine that the companies that install those devices would be helped. Cab drivers would notice a pretty nice bump in income, too. I'm sure the people that don't drink would be more than happy to have a device on their car even if they don't need to use it.

Jon Miller, Baltimore

Little Italy prejudice? Easy for an outsider to say

In response to Carol N. Shaw's letter "Prejudice in Little Italy commentary" (Readers respond, Nov. 2): I believe the quote from the op-ed you're criticizing was "Mo's related activities have irked residents, and not because the owners are Arab or the late night patrons predominately African-American."

While Ms. Scalia may have mischaracterized the owners of Mo's (they are Persian, not Arab), the fact remains that violent activity has originated from that area for years. Many of the restaurant owners do not live there and can drive home to their suburban homes, while the residents have to contend with gunfights, burglaries, car thefts and public disturbances.

I am a former resident of Little Italy. I can assure you that no one wants this type of activity, regardless of who the perpetrators might be. Consider yourself fortunate that you can voice your opinion from the quaint little town of Fork. I wonder how you would feel if you woke up to the sound of gunshots in front of your house at 3 a.m.?

Johnny DiBattista, Parkville

Swine flu spooks Halloween

So there I was at my usual Halloween evening post, sitting on the stoop of my daughter's row home in Rodgers Forge. My job is to pass out candy to the neighborhood kids while my daughter and son-in-law take my grandchildren trick-or-treating. Normally this is a pleasant diversion of sheer joy - but not this year.

In this time of high alert to prevent the spread of the H1N1 virus, doling out the goodies has to be done according to strict swine flu prevention protocols, which forbid the little tykes from reaching into the giver's container and taking their own treats, thereby leaving germs from their filthy little fingers for the next child. They must wait to have the candy put into their bucket by the giver, and I took that responsibility seriously.

Many of them apparently didn't get the message at home, and not being happy with what I chose to put into their bags (some of those bags, I noted, were not ecologically friendly), tried grabbing something more to their liking from my stash. Most of them backed off with a sharp verbal admonishment, but a couple of them I had to elbow into the shrubs.

Don't look at me like that - it was for their own good, but I must admit I did feel a little bad about having to deck Cinderella.

Dave Reich, Perry Hall

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