Proposal spells three strikes against region

While we applaud Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s ongoing efforts to revitalize and open up the North Country through a series of forward-looking proposals and policies, we’re skeptical about the trial balloon he floated at the State of the State Address on Tuesday, Jan. 8 that will, if enacted by state lawmakers, suspend driver’s licenses for life for motorists found guilty of three convictions of driving while intoxicated in their lifetime.

Don’t get us wrong: We’re not advocating reckless behavior and our hearts are with those who have lost loved ones as a result of impaired motorists, but we feel such an upgrade to the already-severe state DWI laws would be needlessly punitive, urban-centered and would hog tie the courts and strip them of the autonomy required to adjudicate cases based on extenuating and local circumstances.

Punitive. We’d like to think that a clear line of demarcation between youthful indiscretion and lifetime stupidity is drawn after a pair of alcohol-related brushes with the law. We’ve all done ridiculous things in our youth and none of us are the same people that we were a decade ago, much less 25 years ago.

Under a Three Strikes law, otherwise law-abiding citizens who made two mistakes during their adolescence — a time when the frontal lobe, the part of the brain that controls decision-making isn’t yet fully matured — can have their lives irrevocably remain in pieces a half-century later.

Revoking someone’s license later in life after just one more lapse of judgement, say driving a short distance down an unpopulated stretch of rural road while just a sliver over the .08 BAC limit, would be counterproductive and serve no real purpose other than to strip people of their livelihoods — especially if they’re self-employed rural residents who depend on their vehicles to provide for their families. Taking away a person’s right to self-determination would only add to the state’s bloated welfare ranks and cripple a population that needs a life preserver — not an anchor.

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