Letter: Potential casualties of COVID-19 or bureaucracy?

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Undoubtedly, we run the risk of overlooking certain individuals struggling on the battlefield that COVID-19 has become, and though perhaps not as heroic or glorious as some other marginalized demographics, DUI offenders are now facing serious, possibly life-threatening obstacles.

The devices offenders are required to install and use in their vehicles, aka breathalyzers, it turns out, are set off by the use of hand sanitizer, one of the few essential necessities we have in our already limited arsenal against this relentless pandemic.

To avoid setting off the device, circumventing fines and/or jail time, people must wait 20 minutes to attempt driving again after sanitizing. Is 20 minutes a safe time to wait after being exposed to a deadly virus? Is it a reasonable time to keep groceries in a hot car, additional time spent driving home not withstanding? Is it enough time to discourage an otherwise health-conscious individual from disinfecting altogether?

Given the average person’s already hectic schedule, compounded with newly acquired pressures of living in a world under siege by a pandemic, waiting 20 minutes every time after performing a potentially lifesaving practice, or forgoing it altogether due to the additional inconvenience now posed, is an unreasonable, unsafe and, in some respects, inhumane requisite.

Granted, these are unprecedented times; but it’s the state’s, as well as our own, civic duty to allow modifications to ensure the fundamental safety and rights of our fellow citizens, even, and perhaps especially, those who have broken laws enacted to protect these very freedoms. We’ve stressed the importance of not dismissing our medical professionals, the elderly and other such integral members of the community. Let’s not forget our fellow criminals.

— George Bazley
Black Mountain

Editor’s note: Xpress contacted the N.C. Department of Transportation, and spokesman Steve Abbott provided the following response: “We understand that during the COVID-19 pandemic, ignition interlock users are inclined to use hand sanitizer more regularly. However, ignition interlock vendors have warned customers since installation that hand sanitizer can cause violations (a potential situation way before the virus hit us). It is in both the documentation provided at installation and in the videos that customers were required to watch.

“Our recommendation continues to be that a driver wait several minutes (at least five minutes, although the longer the better) after applying hand sanitizer to operate the interlock device. Should you choose to attempt to start your vehicle directly after using hand sanitizer, a violation may occur. The division has contaminant review criteria in place if the level of alcohol dissipates within a set period of time. However, some violations may require the driver to address the violation at a hearing.

“Another option is to use only nonalcohol-based sanitizers, as they are also manufactured.”


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5 thoughts on “Letter: Potential casualties of COVID-19 or bureaucracy?

  1. Johnny to the A

    Fellow criminals? The vast majority of citizens are not criminals, so your “fellow” statement is confusing to law abiding members of society.

    This reminds me of the nonsensical opinion letter from Michael Breck a few years ago. He complained that business were unsupportive of his requests for basketballs to be used by inmates of an Asheville area correctional facility.

    What a beautiful world you are all leaving for the youth of today.

    • george bazley

      First and foremost, thank you profusely for taking the time and effort to read my letter; I value and am grateful for your readership as well as your thought provoking queries. This is by no means an overt rally cry for miscreants or any other sort of support or encouragement for misanthropic sentiment, ideology, and/or behavior; that strikes me as somewhat bombastically and cartoonishly ridiculous; the rhetorical motive and method executed here, in reality, are actually cut from quite the opposite cloth. Overtly present here is a literary technique employing the use of understated and implicit irony as a means to convey and underscore the disparate divide that’s artificially installed and reinforced between various members of different socio-economic classes, as well as give credence, however subtle and cuttingly ironic, to the fact that we all belong to the human race, this comes with its attendant characteristic brand subtle, nuanced humor perhaps not necessarily showing up on the average reader’s radar, apparently; thus, I apologize if you or anyone else experiences any confusion in regards to the rhetoric used here. It was written with the best of intentions and consideration for all walks of life, including, obviously, the law abiding one, to which I proudly, fortunately, and gratefully belong. I apologize for any unintended, inadvertent misunderstanding that may have ensued after my writing this letter, which was born of a strong, urgent and unconditionally humane desire to bring conscientious, well-minded citizens together in mind and spirit, at the very least, in the name of community safety and the greater, immutable good. If I have fallen short in achieving this end, in however seemingly small a capacity, then I know it is likely due to my shortcomings as a writer and my literary discretion will then be re-examined and righted, refined accordingly; I’m confident that the foundering will be due, largely, to the aforementioned faults and not the lack of integrity or psychic/spiritual mobility among the people. I, again, thank you wholeheartedly for taking the time to thoughtfully read my letter read my letter, and the initiative and candor to express your uncertainties regarding it. Stay safe and sane. Sincerely, G. B.

  2. george bazley

    Specifically the adjective, to answer your question, “fellow”, here was used to denote the fact that they share our most basic, common, humanistic characteristics, and are therefore nonetheless our peers, worthy of the same respect and consideration we would ideally expect from others, weather or not we fully acknowledge that and come to terms with the social, moral, and spiritual ramifications thereof is what, cumulatively, makes us and the world either either beautiful or reprehensibly repulsive. Or, in the poignantly wise words of Wallace Stevens: “the sun..is just what you say. Have it your way. The world is ugly and the people are sad.” replete with connoted layers of the sun, layers of ugliness, and layers of being akin to what one would deem “sad”. Stay well.

  3. george bazley

    Finally, while on the topic, hopefully, we as a collective civilization will be more and more mindful of as well as abide by, not only jurisdictional laws of nations, but larger, more encompassing laws at play here which have distinct and potent practical as well as psychic implications and applications, such as the law of relativity, Newton’s laws of motion, especially the first, and the ubiquitous, unconditional, but sadly, sometimes rarely heeded law or golden rule, if you will, of equitability, (just treating folks with common, humane decency) about which there should be quite little confusion, if any, even for the most exclusive of members-only clubs. Hmm, that just gave me a silly idea for a t-shirt: on the front: “human/( being” , on the back: “members-only”. Anyhow, hope this was all elucidating as could be expected.

  4. george bazley

    One last point, the recent tumultuous and sometimes polarizing events surrounding the George Floyd Jr. case serve as a vivid and poignant example of how our empathy should not be extinguished or exhausted the moment a person has made a mistake and committed a crime. Ultimately, instead of dividing, diminishing, and conquering us, I would like to believe that these current tribulations we are faced with in the midst of these trying times will inspire us to more readily face our quintessential fears, as well as shared humanity, while trying our utmost best to draw strength from, uplift, and uphold the beauty and integrity of the human spirit.

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