Critic: Alcohol Dangers Ignored Among “Other Bogeymen”


Margaret Lopez, the wife of a Ramsey County, Mn., sheriff’s deputy, was killed early New Year’s Day when Beth Rhodes, driving the wrong way on a highway, slammed into the officer’s squad car. Authorities suspect, pending blood test results, that Rhodes, 23, was impaired. Some are more interested in placing blame for Lopez’s death on the county sheriff’s civilian ride-along policy that allowed her to accompany her husband that fateful night, says St. Paul Pioneer Press columnist Ruben Rosario.

Jon Cummings, whose son was killed by a wrong-way impaired driver in 1994, founded Minnesotans for Safe Driving. He lectures weekly on the evils of drinking and driving to high school kids, prisoners and DWI offenders. He calls impaired drivers “domestic improvised explosive devices. It’s the randomness of it, like terror. It can strike anyone on the road. There is no safe neighborhood to stay away from or run to.” Cummings believes we are complicit because society continues to tolerate a culture of drinking, even to excess. “We’ve created other bogeymen to go after, even though alcohol remains the most destructive substance-abuse force in this country,” he says. He was asked to speak recently at a private high school parents night. A seminar on meth awareness attracted 500 parents. About 10 showed up to listen to Cummings and other speakers.


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