Should our government have a zero-tolerance approach toward drunken driving? Of course it should. Unfortunately, the West Las Vegas school district has fallen short.
Last year, the district’s head mechanic totaled a West vehicle in Moriarty. The Torrance County Sheriff’s Department said the West employee and a friend, another local mechanic, had gone to a bar and a strip club beforehand. Both went to the hospital after the crash.
The details of the investigation are unnerving. A deputy reported that both men appeared drunk — indeed, the West mechanic was reportedly so intoxicated that it was hard to believe he could have been driving.
Unfortunately, Torrance County botched the investigation. The deputy didn’t seek blood draws on either man or take photos of the men’s seat-belt bruises that apparently proved the West mechanic was behind the wheel. So prosecutors dropped the DWI charge and the West employee agreed to plead guilty to careless driving. As part of his sentence, he must take part in a DWI simulator program — apparently an unusual punishment for someone not convicted of drunken driving.
What has been West’s reaction to the mechanic’s situation? The district says it has disciplined the employee, but it won’t specify the penalties, citing the privacy required in personnel matters. But the superintendent has revealed that the district won’t let the mechanic drive any West vehicles until June 30. That’s today, folks.
This is kid-glove treatment. Does anyone think a private company would have been so tolerant under the same set of circumstances? Of course not. So why should a government entity take such a weak approach?
Sure, the mechanic escaped conviction, but the public has a right to be suspicious. Had the West mechanic gone to the bars beforehand? Had he been drinking? How did the crash happen? Why was he incoherent? Did his injuries cause his incoherence or was he drunk?
We sure hope the district asked these questions of its mechanic. And we’d sure like to know the answers. It’s apparently none of the public’s business, but we, as taxpayers, will pick up the tab for the almost certain increase in the district’s premiums as a result of the accident. Indeed, the insurer will probably take note of West’s laissez-faire attitude toward an alleged DWI crash.
Nearly four years ago, this city lost all but one member of a local family to a DWI crash. At the time, West officials decried the drunken-driving problem. What happened to that anger?