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Al Seltz, Fergus Falls, Minn., Published April 20 2013

Letter: Incarcerate car, not the drunk

The letter about “meaningless DUI penalties” inspired me to tell you about an idea my wife has been proposing for over 50 years: Incarcerate the vehicle, not the drunk.

First, the cost of impounding a vehicle is but a tiny fraction of what it costs to keep a drunk in jail. Also, many drunks are still functioning workers who, when sober, are valuable members of the work force. However, if the drunk is incarcerated, he’ll not get paid for sure and maybe fired entirely.

By implication, this brings up the drunk’s spouse and family: Unless the drunk is a known abuser, most children and spouses – and all taxpayers – are better off with a partially sober, partially working parent/mate than one who is sitting in jail.

And, let’s not forget the banker/car dealer who loaned the drunk the money to buy the vehicle that’s now been confiscated. Do you think that banker will finance another car?

Most importantly, all these parties – banker, spouse and employer – are given an extra mechanism with which to control the drunk. If he wants to use the spouse’s car… “No way. If I loan you my car, how do I know it won’t be confiscated?”

The spouse, employer and banker can all insist on that promise: “If you don’t promise to quit drinking, I won’t help you.” Thus these bystanders quit being enablers and become a part of the pressure to quit drinking.