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Blame the driver


Drunk driving is a problem our society has been forced to deal with for more than a century. Over the years, standards and regulations have been added and improved upon to help lessen the frequency of accidents caused by drunk drivers. Bars and restaurants are already held liable if they don’t stop highly-intoxicated customers from driving. Now, a new incident has some people proposing that valets should be held responsible as well.

A 23-year-old on a scooter was killed in Boston after being hit by a drunk driver. The driver claimed to be “blackout drunk” and couldn’t believe the valet handed him his keys. Boston City Councilor Rob Consalvo agrees. “I was stunned. I said to myself, ‘Yeah, how could he have?’”

Now, Consalvo is pushing for new legislation that would utilize valets as a tool to keep drunk drivers off the road, requiring them to refuse drivers their keys if they appear too intoxicated.

As expected, stances on Consalvo’s plan vary. Some say the proposal is a no-brainer, and valet drivers should absolutely be required to refuse drunk drivers their keys. On the other hand, some argue the plan encourages irresponsibility, and valet drivers are meant to park cars, not babysit.

The idea sounds good on paper, but it would be crazy to expect the new proposal to go over without any repercussions. Certainly intoxicated adults are not going to enjoy having their car held from them against their will, especially by a college-aged valet driver. As a result, valet companies will likely be forced to deal with many altercations and, in turn, many lawsuits.

It’s obvious that as far as drunk driving is concerned, our society can use all the preventative help it can get, and valets seem to be, what Consalvo calls, “our last line of defense.” However, punishing valets for failing to accurately recognize the severity of a person’s intoxication is crossing a line. Not everybody is a perceptible drunk, and if a valet doesn’t pick up on it, it would be wrong to put the blame on him or her. Adults need to act like adults; valets won’t always be there.

Valets should obviously not give keys to anyone who is evidently unfit to drive, that much is certain; however, the ultimate responsibility belongs to the driver and the driver’s passengers. It’s easy to expect a restaurant server or bartender to help prevent drunk driving because they are the ones serving the alcohol and can keep tabs on the amount consumed — whereas valets only have a person’s articulation and body language to judge drunkenness.

Although drunk driving is a problem our society has not yet efficiently fixed, it’s unfair to expect valet parking attendants, who are in contact with patrons for such a short amount of time, to be held liable for making the call whether a person is or isn’t in a safe condition to drive.

Lucas Sepulveda is a creative writing and media production junior and may be reached at opinion@thedailycougar.com.

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