Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Drunk Drivers: Still Almost Invulnerable

The accounts of drunk drivers hitting and even killing people and getting off without jail sentences have become common.

Last week, the issue hit the news again when police pulled over Senator Eduardo Carlos Merlano for apparently driving drunk. 

"Do you know who I am?" the senator demanded of the police officers, and then refused to take the alcohol blood level test.

The scandal was later compounded by a leaked recording in which a police commander criticized the police officer for trying to test the senator. "Out of millions of Colombians, we've selected just a hundred to write out laws," the commander pointed out.

And, apparently, some of those 100 politicians consider themselves above the law. Merlano - who it turned out was also driving without a license - afterwards asserted that he hadn't been drunk and had a right to refuse to take the alcohol test.

Coincidentally, just yesterday a bill which would have required jail time for drunk drivers died in Congress. The bill failed to pass by a single vote. More than 70 senators failed to appear to vote at all, perhaps taking a long lunch lubricated by aguardiente.

Every year,  drunk drivers kill more than 5,000 people in Colombia. 

Poor Sen. Merlano, meanwhile, has been told by his doctor to take a couple of days off of work to relax from all the stress he's suffered.

At last word, Sen. Merlano hadn't expressed an opinion about the anti-drunk driving legislation.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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