PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A new law designed to keep drivers who drink too much from getting behind the wheel goes into effect Friday, and a local group of mothers says it’s a start, but it’s not enough.
David Cook, a former Marine and father of three, lost his life to a drunk driver, a totally avoidable death, says his mother, Pam Ondash of Baden.
“I lost him July 17, 2011. He was coming home from his sister’s house. He was on a motorcycle and was hit by a pick-up truck that rolled two times on impact,” his mother told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Friday. “Drunk driver. Second offense.”
Had Pennsylvania passed this new law years ago, David would be alive today.
An ignition lock system to start their vehicles is now required for first-time DUI offenders.
“This is a huge first step in Pennsylvania,” adds Natalie Parkinson of Center Township.
Parkinson lost her daughter Renee, a 26-year school teacher, to a drunk driver, and she says every road is full of potential victims.
“You’re looking at roads that are cluttered with DUI potential crashes and deaths and accidents,” she said.
An ignition interlock keeps the car engine from starting until the driver passes a breathalyzer each time he or she is behind the wheel.
The engine won’t start until you blow and hum into the tube.
This ignition lock system is a good first step, say Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).
But it’s hardly enough.
Pennsylvania law is very weak when it comes to penalties against those who kill through drunk driving.
Those who kill while drunk get off with less penalties than others who kill, say Ondash and Parkinson.
And penalties must discourage all of us from getting behind the wheel after more than one drink.
“We need very stiff penalties the first time around so this doesn’t have an opportunity to perpetuate,” says Parkinson.
“Prior to his killing Dave, he was driving under a suspended license and got caught in four different communities, and nothing happened,” adds Ondash. “And he was still driving under a suspended license, and my son lost his life.”
This new law is just a start.