Recipe for disaster


Nearly every family in America has known someone who was killed or maimed by a drunken driver. Hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost.

Two years ago, for the first time in modern history, the annual drunken-driving toll dipped slightly below 10,000 deaths. Still, that’s almost twice as many lives as were lost in the entire first decade of the current war against terror.

A bill before the Michigan Legislature would almost certainly add to the carnage. The measure would allow bars and restaurants in “central business districts” to keep serving alcohol until 4 a.m. Establishments that wanted to do so would have to pay the state $10,000 a year.

It is hard to imagine a worse idea. Responsible social drinkers are seldom out tossing them down into the wee hours.

“This is a law that will promote heavy use of alcohol, cater to people who are already in trouble with alcohol, and endanger many innocent people,” said a spokesman for a Michigan group that promotes alcohol safety. That is exactly right.

The last thing anyone needs is heavy drinkers climbing into their cars and heading home shortly after 4 a.m., when those who work in coffee shops, hospitals, and other early-start businesses are headed into work.

A restaurant owner begged senators to pass the bill, claiming it would help make money for “the casinos, hotels, limousine, and taxi industries.” He could have added funeral homes.

Drunken drivers killed 255 people in Michigan in 2011, the last full year for which statistics are available, and 316 in Ohio. There is no need for a law that would virtually guarantee more deaths.