Heartbreak and questions arise after Michael Gustafson, 66, of Atlantic Highlands is killed by a drunk driver on Highway 36, early Saturday morning. Drunk drivers continue to get on the road. Can ignition interlock devices help?
Michael Gustafson is dead after a crash with a drunk driver. The other driver, a 62-year-old man from Brooklyn, Anthony F. Sarlo, was operating a Jeep Cherokee, heading west in the eastbound lanes of Route 36, when he collided with Gustafson's Honda Fit. Shortly after the collision, Gustafson was transported to Riverview Medical Center and was pronounced dead at 1:44 a.m.
This after multiple recent drunk driving incidents in the Monmouth County area, among them, two DWI's in Middletown:
- Mountainside resident Vance Kottler, who was charged with driving while intoxicated, after a crash in Middletown, when his BMW went off-road and overturned at about 4:40AM.
- Then Gina Dagostino of Port Monmouth was charged with a DWI after driving into a Garden State Parkway median near Exit 91 in Brick.
This recent collision that cost Gustafson his life has us scratching our heads. Is enough being done to keep drunk drivers off the road?
Last October, David Matthau wrote an article for NJ 101.5 in which he argues, quite perceptively, that there is no excuse for driving drunk. In the article, he cites Frank Harris the director of state government affairs for Mothers Against Drunk Driving...
“People think the fight against drunk driving is pretty much won. It’s not, and this increase in drunk driving deaths in New Jersey is a reminder of that,” he said. “People need to remember to plan ahead, designate a sober driver, don’t drive drunk, find some other way to get home after a night of drinking.”
Harris further noted, "with companies like Uber and Lyft becoming more and more popular 'there’s no excuse to drive drunk in 2017. This is a 100 percent preventable violent crime.'”
A solution currently being discussed is in an ignition interlock device which would require drivers to breathe into a tube, ensuring sobriety, before the ignition will start. Back in 2015, Gov. Christie proposed requiring both a suspension and an interlock device once a driver gets a license back.
Current arguments are that preexisting punitive measures aren't tough enough to discourage repeat offenses. The ignition interlock law must be written in a way that appropriately and sufficiently penalizes drunk drivers, while providing a sensible strong measures to prevent recurring offenses once suspended licenses are reinstated.