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Rudie Martinson, Published October 25 2012

Letter: Forum editorial was flat-out wrong about hospitality/distilling business

The debate going on about North Dakota’s public policy regarding drunken driving is a good one. It’s good for us to step back and examine what we are doing as a state to both deter people from driving when they’ve been drinking, and to punish those who make criminally poor decisions.

That very worthy debate will be much better served, though, by discussing facts. The Forum’s insinuation in the Oct. 9 editorial that the hospitality and brewing/distilling industries are to blame for the current policy is not just off-base – it’s flat out wrong.

The members of the North Dakota Hospitality Association are committed to making sure that alcohol is consumed responsibly in North Dakota, and we have supported legislation to do exactly that. In 2009, we supported legislation that established a 24/7 sobriety program, which required habitual DUI offenders to be tested daily to prove they aren’t drinking while on parole. Just last session, we joined together with the North Dakota University System and legislators from around the state to spearhead the passage of legislation aimed at taking fake or illegally used IDs off the street and out of the hands of underage kids.

As this debate continues, let’s focus on legislation that will have a real impact on taking drunken drivers off the road. Let’s make sure that habitual drunken drivers aren’t allowed to continue committing crimes, but let’s also ensure they get the treatment they need to conquer their substance abuse problems and improve their lives.

Let’s put the responsibility where it belongs: on the heads of those people who make dangerous and criminal decisions, and not on the back of the hospitality industry.

Martinson is executive director, North Dakota Hospitality Association.