Published 12:00 am Monday, April 19, 1999

By Harold Keller / L’Observateur / April 14, 1999

This legislative session seems to have more bills directed to drunken drivers than any previous session. Some bills demand jail time for secondoffenders, loss of driver’s license for first offenders, bumper stickers for convicted DWI offenders letting the public know that they’ve been guilty of the crime, impounding the car of a drunken driver, etc. Sounds likedrastic measures” Maybe, but I don’t think so. Making laws are easy.Enforcing them is where we have a problem.

I’ll never forget a friend of mine with whom I used to drink. When Idecided to quit, he actually resented me for making that decision. Hecontinued to drink for a few years after my decision to stop.

On July 4, 18 years ago, this same person knocked on my door looking like warmed-over death. He said, “I need help.” He had been in the AscensionParish jail for two days. He did get sober even though he was mad at thepolice for arresting him.

After a few months of 12-step meetings and successful sobriety, I encouraged him to write a letter to the Ascension Sheriff’s Office, telling of his experiences and thanking them for doing their job. I felt it would begreat therapy for him and a positive message to the law enforcement officials to enforce the DWI laws.

My friend died a few years ago – sober and grateful to the police and a 12- step program that not only got him sober, but also opened the door to allow him to appreciate the goodness and mercy of a loving God.

Before my friend, who was an admitted agnostic, died, he and I became very close. When we drank, we were only drinking companions. However,when we both got sober, we discovered the true meaning of love and friendship.

The day before he died (he had been very sick), I stopped to see him at his house. We chatted and I asked if he was afraid to die. “No,” he said. “I justdon’t want to be trouble for anybody.” I then asked him if he knew Jesus.”I know God,” he answered, ” but not Jesus.” (I had never heard anyone saythat.) “Would you like to know Jesus?” I asked. “Yes,” was his reply. Iknelt down by his bed and we prayed. My friend died that night. He diedsober, which was important, but even more so, he was saved.

I still miss my friend, and think about him occasionally, but I have a peace about his death. I don’t like to look back, but wonder how the story wouldhave ended if the law enforcement officials hadn’t done their jobs.

Harold Keller is a regular columnist for L’Observateur

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