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I thank God that I have not had to deal with the nightmare of myself or a family member being maimed or killed by a drinking driver, but that does not mean I have not been affected by it.

As a firefighter, I deal with auto crashes on a regular basis and many times I have seen lives of innocent people, young and old, wiped out or altered by the ignorance of a drinking driver.

It often takes me weeks to recover mentally after seeing the horrifying results of one of these crashes. Perhaps the hardest thing for me to overcome is knowing these victims have families who must deal with the aftermath.

Our state government plays a small part in aiding victims with compensation. But what about the right of that victim to have that person who was driving while intoxicated appropriately punished? Strict laws already exist; but evidently the judicial system believes intoxicated drivers should get more than one opportunity. Weak sentences only encourage repeat offenders.

I believe the license of a person convicted of DWI should be revoked upon the first conviction. A driver's license is a "privilege" and it should be taken away when abused.

Until our judicial system imposes a more harsh sentence on the convicted drunk driver, lives of innocent people will continue to be altered or lost. Judges must realize the decisions they make can mean the difference between life and death.

Orchard Park

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