When an Ohio County sheriff's deputy began following a vehicle Sunday night on W.Va. 2, he was concerned enough about erratic driving. But after he pulled the truck over, he had much more reason for worry.
In the vehicle's back seat was an 11-month-old girl, in a child restraint. Her mother allegedly was intoxicated.
At times while the deputy was following her, the driver allegedly was traveling at 75 mph. Her blood-alcohol level registered at two and one-half times the legal limit when she was tested at the sheriff's department.
And her driver's license already had been suspended because of a driving under the influence conviction in another state.
Of course, the West Liberty woman is innocent until proven guilty. But if the deputy is correct, she was guilty not just of repeat DUI but also of endangering a child.
Alcohol abuse can cause a variety of self-destructive behaviors. Most people understand that. But when its victims endanger the traveling public, they forfeit whatever sympathy others may have felt for them.
And when they endanger children, public concern about them turns to anger - quite rightly.
In such situations, severe punishment is appropriate. But protecting children involved needs to be the top priority.
Again, the woman in this case has been accused, not convicted. But if she is guilty, steps must be taken to ensure she never, ever places her child or any other in danger again.