The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, March 12, 1999, Page 5, Image 5

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    The carrot and the stick
\ " '■ i-’ .ff \:-,r . %%
Alcohol bills should carry equal weight for government incentives %
TIM SULLIVAN is a third
year law student and a
Daily Nebraskan columnist.
Have you been in the Nebraska
Union this week?
If you have, then perhaps you
walked by the booth in the new north
entrance sponsored by students from
UNL’s Project Care. Project Care is a
student organization dedicated to
“creating an alcohol-responsible
environment,” according to the liter
ature they distributed at its booth.
The great thing about its booth
was that the group was letting stu
dents try on goggles that simulate the
effect of having a blood-alcohol con
centration of .08. Students had the
opportunity to try on the goggles and
try to do simple things like catch a
red rubber ball, larger than a softball.
You guessed it. The vast majority
couldn’t do it.
As many of you know, the
Nebraska Legislature is considering
lowering the blood alcohol concen
tration from. 10 to .08 for the charge
of driving under the influence.
LB235, sponsored by Sen. LaVon
Crosby, is currently stalled in com
mittee. It’s controversial, because
there are a lot of fools out there who
think that .08 is too low.
Bob Comer, of the Nebraska
Office of Highway Safety, can point
you to numerous tests and studies
that prove that when people get to
.08, they don’t think they can drive.
He also points to the .08 simulation
! goggles, which seem to cause people
to be unable to perform even simple
As Comer correctly observes, if
people are unable to do even simple
tasks like catching a ball, they’re cer
tainly in no condition to be driving.
C. K. Durea, Sen. Crosby’s Legal
Aide, told me that Sen. Crosby has
supported legislation to lower the
blood alcohol concentration to .08
for at least ten years. Durea also said
that Sen. Crosby does not support
lowering the BAC to .08 because of
incentive money, though.
President Clinton is using the
“carrot” approach to get the states to
pass the .08 legislation. If Nebraska
doesn’t pass LB235, then the Office
of Highway Safety will not receive
between a half of a million and
$800,000 in federal incentive money,
according to Bob Comer. And Durea
also told me that had Nebraska got in
at the beginning of the push for the
, states to lower their blood-alcohol
content to .08, the state would have
received more money, and every year
we delay, the amount of the incentive
I’m worried that the carrot
approach may not be good enough to
get Nebraska to lower its legal limit
to .08.
Durea told me that three of the
seven members of the Transportation
Committee are currently opposed to
lowering the legal limit and that one
is wavering - Sen. Chris Peterson.
Durea also told me that the mem
bers of the transportation committee
have been extended an offer to try
the .08 goggles, and so far, none of
them have.
Two other bills related to high
way safety - LB585 and LB586 -
provide for the impoundment of all
vehicles owned by repeat DUI
offenders and making open contain
ers in vehicles unlawful, with certain
LB585, sponsored by Sen. Curt
Bromm, was designated by him as
his priority bill on Wednesday of this
week. I support this legislation
wholeheartedly, although I think I
would have impounded the cars of
first-time offenders as well.
LB586, another of Sen. Bromm’s
bills, puts a little more teeth into the
existing open container law. Under
the existing statute, a law-enforce
ment officer has to see someone con
suming alcohol from an open con
tainer for there to be a law violation.
Under the proposed legislation,
however, open containers of any
kind, open or with a broken seal, the
contents of which are alcoholic and
have been partially consumed, con
stitutes a violation of the open con
tainer law. People in the back of a
motor home can drink from open
containers, but no open containers
can be within the reach of the driver
(that takes care of football Saturdays,
The federal government has
taken the “stick” approach with
respect to LB585 and LB586.
If the Legislature doesn’t pass
LB585 to change its open-container
law, it will lose about $2.3 million
for federal road construction,
according to Shawn Nowlan, Sen.
Bromm’s legal aide.
And if the Legislature doesn’t
pass LB586, providing for the
impoundment of the vehicles of
repeat DUI offenders, the state will
lose another $2.3 million for road
construction, according to Nowlan.
I wish the federal government
had used the stick approach with
respect to the .08 legislation.
Perhaps some of you recall from
reading one of my earlier columns
that I work as a law clerk for the
Nebraska Department of Motor
Vehicles. I process the appeals from
administrative license revocations
for DUI.
One of the things our office does
is provide training to law enforce
ment agencies on the administration
of preliminary breath tests and intox
ilyzer tests.
One weekend, I borrowed an
Alco-sensor and conducted my own
experimentation. I consumed two
beers an hour over a four-hour peri
od, and the highest reading from me
was about .086.1 felt really drunk.
A friend of mine consumed about
twice that much - two beers and two
shots per hour over a four-hour peri
od. His highest reading was about a
. 18. He was falling-down drunk.
I worked in the prison system for
a long time. I had a lot of experi
ences testing inmates for alcohol.
The limit for inmates is .02. “ ‘
You would be very surprised how
obviously intoxicated people are at
.04 or .05 - easily detectable by cor
rectional staff like myself - and peo
ple like you, too.
I’m worried that the Legislature
is going to adjourn this year without
having passed the .08 bill, LB235.
As such, I’m asking for your
Call your state senator’s office
and tell diem you want them to vote
for LB235. If you don’t know who
your state senator is, call the clerk’s
office at 471-2271. Tell them where
you live and they can tell you who
your senator is.
Call Sen. Chris Peterson at (402)
471-2617 and tell her to get LB235
out of committee and onto the floor.
Don’t let the Legislature be more
interested in keeping precious road'
construction dollars coming in while
ignoring legislation like reducing the
BAC to .08, legislation that will save
I’m not saying that the impound
ment and open container legislation
isn’t important; what I am saying is
that .08 legislation should be of
equal or greater importance - and
should carry a bigger “stick.”
Write or call today, before you
leave for spring break.
And for God’s sake, please have a
safe break. Don’t drink and drive.
The life you save may be your
Gimme a break
Collegiate holiday springs confidence, opportunity for co-ed adventure
JAY GISH is a senior broad
casting major and Daily
Nebraskan columnist,
Ahhh ... you can almost smell the
Kahlua in the air, can’t you? By the
end of today, the school bells will
have rung, and the holiest of holy col
lege weeks will have begun.
The Meccas of spring break (also
known as south-of-the-border tourist
, traps) will fill up with rampaging col
legiates, high on the winds of total
freedom (among other things).
I can hear herds of college boys
running around in tight circles say
ing, “Man, this is gonna be my
first/last/best spring break ever! I
have GOT to get some chicks this
Of course, there are some losers
who somehow finagled themselves
out of classes early. They have a sub
stantial jump on those still here read
ing this (and we all hate them, right?).
So, because I side with the under
dog, I thought I’d use this Friday to
offer a short catalog of hot spring
break advice, condensed from my
own personal experience.
{Surgeon General s Warning: The
author has no experience.
Consumption of this column may
contribute to poor health conditions,
including but not limited to severe
Don’t faint when you read this,
but try not using any alcohol for
once. (Okay, breathe ... breathe.)
Think about it. The primary reason
for drinking on spring break is to rid
you of inhibitions, to make it easier to
hit on more people, right?.
How much mei^,
. ' • '
you neea, wnen you Know mat every
one within 200 yards of you is lit up?
Women on spring break are noted
for a marked decrease in judgment. If
there’s ever a time where confidence
should come easy, it’s among the
spring break crowd.
Also, have you ever tried being
the only totally sober one at a gather
ing? (I know, I know ... probably
Every other guy is stumbling
around, slurring beyond
recognition whatever idiotic
line he was going to use.
Meanwhile, you
come off like
and Gary
rolled into
if some
tries to
step in
between you
and your lady,
you can likely
push him over.
Here’s a fun
and smart idea.
Do you have
any baby sib
lings or rela
Volunteer to
take care of
them for the
week-their par
ents will love the
week off.
Once you hit the
beach, you’ll discov
er the old saying is
true: Babies are chick
magnets. The women
will love them so much,
they’ll probably offer to
come to your room at night
to take care of the kids for you.
You get all the fun with none of the
hassle. *J ■ ' ' * /
Ana ir me Kia nas a pacmer...
well, I don’t need to tell you what
kind of fun you can have with a paci
Obviously, some spring-breakers
will want to avoid the crowded
Mexican beaches. The next best des
tination? Nevada.
I’m not talking about gambling -
you’re blowing enough money going
on spring break without hand
feeding it to a machine.
Besides, the idea that
gambling is
fun is
actually just a myth that sprung up
out of the Spanish Inquisition.
Prostitutes. I’m talking about
prostitutes. They’re legal in Nevada,
guys! Why even go through the trials
and tribulations of trying to seduce a
fellow spring-breaker? (They’re there
to have fun, not to be withyow.)
Letting you do your thing with
her is a prostitute’s job. You pay the
money, you get a professional, just
like that! Once again - all of the fun,
with none of the hassle.
Whatever you do, don’t go
to New York City.
4 According
1 ^ . ' ' '
.- - Matt Haney/DN' --
Newsweek, cops in New York now
take possession of your car on the
spot if you are caught driving under
the influence.
I’d like to think that everyone
would heed my advice not to drink,
but I know better. I’d be almost as
happy if everyone just wouldn’t drive
after drinking. But, sadly, I know bet
ter than that, too.
So, if you get caught in New York
City, you finish spring break without
a car to get home in.
You’d probably become so
despondent that you’d become one
of those “club kids,” fashion
ing an outfit from vacuum
cleaner accessories and
S calling yourself
^ “Thyra.” Not pretty,
k I For some, the
best choice of
spring break activi
ties will be to just
stay around here.
Yes, it’s true.
Think of all the
things you’d like to
do on campus or
where you live but
don’t, because you have
schoolwork or because there
are too many people around.
During spring break, all con
straints vanish. Ever get the urge
to practice your crabwalk on the
Jp^ wrestling mats in the Rec
’Center, but decide not to for fear
of being observed? Now is the
Wtime to do it.
I Do you have a passion for out
'door ballet, but look like cotton
candy after a stroke once you get
into the tutu? Don’t worry. The
(fgreenspace (or white-and-muddy
splotches-space) near the Union will
be desolate and open for business.
Ever want to be free to just wear
your roommate’s stuff around the
apartment? Well, don’t. You’re a
sicko. Get some help.
And if the men in white coats
I come asking questions, you’ve .* ‘
’ never heard of me. '