Cracking down
on DUIs

Editor of the Reformer:

In the June 11 Police Log of the Reformer, there are no less than six DUI incidents reported. Anyone reading the Police Log daily is well aware that this is the norm more than the exception. In some instances people have been stopped for DUI for the second, third and fourth times. There is only one conclusion to be drawn: Our deterrents for drunk driving are virtually useless.

We spend the winter in Florida, and there they take drunk driving very seriously. For a first offense, the driver can, at the judge’s discretion, get six to nine months of jail (or a treatment center), a fine from $500 to $2,000, suspended license that can last from 180 days to a year, and they must install an IID, i.e. an interlock ignition device (a kind of breathalyzer that determines whether your car will start or not). If this doesn’t deter someone from driving under the influence, here’s what a driver faces for a second offense: nine months to a year in jail, $1000 to $4000 in fines, license suspension from one to five years, and an IID required. The consequences for the third offense are even more serious.

Unlike Vermont, it is also unlawful to refuse a breathalyzer test. The first time a driver refuses a breathalyzer test, his license is suspended for a year.

Even more of a deterrent is the fact that the driver’s car is impounded: 10 days for the first conviction, 30 days for a second conviction within five years, and 90 days for a third conviction within 10 years (I for one think that taking someone’s car away when they drive drunk will certainly give them pause before risking it again. And make it safer for the rest of us by getting them off the road).

If you doubt what I’ve written about the Florida law, it can be consulted at dui.drivinglaws.org/florida.php.

Facing these kinds of legal consequences, you can bet that people give serious thought about whether they should climb behind the wheel after drinking more than the legal limit.

In 2012 there were 10,322 deaths due to drunk drivers -- 23 of them were in Vermont.

Drunk drivers are, in fact, lethal weapons threatening us all.

Please ask our officials to rethink and raise the consequences of being arrested for DUI to a level where they actually begin to reduce the number of drunk drivers on the road.

Mark Mikolas,

Brattleboro, July 11

Changes afoot
in Athens

Editor of the Reformer:

I live in the town of Athens, Vermont, and I want to address those in town who feel that nothing for the good ever happens here. It is time to look and see what has been going on all around you and get involved.

For example, a group of townspeople got together last year with a goal of renovating our Town Office building for more than $250,000, either of which would have cost out taxpayers a lot of money. A grant was written and received and the money has been put to good use. Volunteers have come from all over town using a variety of skills. People have even donated equipment and materials for the handicapped accessible bathroom. I am 83 years old and bring down hot meals for the workers on volunteer days. Not long ago I would be helping to put in the new roof beam. It is time to realize that things are changing for the better and to help out. New committees have formed, including a recycling committee. We now have monthly suppers.

Now we are running a raffle to help with the further cost of renovation of the Town Office. A $5 ticket or two will be put to very good use. And, looking at the list of donated items and services, you will see once again how many fellow townspeople have donated to the raffle. Items will be on display in the Town Office with the Sept. 5 Community Supper next door. You will be able to see all that has been donated and see how much the Town Office has changed. The raffle will be held in the basement of the Athens Church at the Oct. 3 Community Supper.

So, buy a raffle ticket, come visit the Town Office and see how much things have been changing in the town that "doesn’t change." You will be surprised ... and maybe volunteer to help out.

May Hopkins,

Athens, July 7