Letters

Karl Sonkin
KRON-TV
San Francisco

Road Warriors
I generally have a great deal of respect for the reporting of George Cothran, but I am unhappy with "Tow-talitarianism" (Bay View, Aug. 9), which tells the sad story of a woman who lends her car to an unlicensed driver and finds it impounded. Perhaps she should not be lending out her car to unlicensed drivers -- these people are unlicensed for a reason, which can include drunk-driving convictions and other behavior that threatens the lives of anyone else on the road.

Cothran writes that "the punishment under [the program to tow the cars of unlicensed drivers] far outpaces the gravity of the crime." Is that so? On one side, we have the inconvenience of people who commit a crime with their car (or allow their car to be used by an unlicensed driver) and have the car impounded. On the other, we have the innocents who are injured or killed by persons who have been judged legally unsafe to drive. Illegal driving is not a victimless crime!

As a bicyclist, pedestrian, and licensed driver, I'd rather have these people off the road -- and if their friends know that their cars might be impounded, maybe they won't lend them out to unlicensed drivers.

The argument that this is unfair to the poor is bogus. Should parking tickets be optional because some drivers can't afford to pay them? By that logic, we should make it legal to steal gasoline. Drivers -- especially unlicensed drivers -- injure and kill lots of people (including poor people) and they cost the public money (notice all those paramedics and police at the scenes of accidents?). If someone -- rich or poor -- doesn't want to pay, or doesn't want to abide by the rules, I don't see why we should subsidize them.

Andrew Gelman
Berkeley

Correction
The map artwork for the Absolut a la Carte, a la Park supplement (Aug. 30) should have been credited to Angela Dundee.

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