Do I detect a trend developing?

On a recent episode of CBS's Wiseguy, a bartender asked an obviously inebriated man, "Are you sure you can drive?" After which Wahl left his buddies, saying "I better go take care of" the potential drunk driver. Channel-hopping over to NBC that same hour (OK, OK - I know I've told you not to do that. Remember - I am a professional. Do not try this at home), there was another scene with a Tattinger's waiter expressing concern over a tipsy patron. He was greatly relieved when he was assured that "They've got a limo."Could it be that prime time TV is taking a more responsible attitude toward drinking and driving?

Indeed it is, and you can thank Dr. Jay Winsten, a Harvard Ph.D., who has spent much of the past year encouraging TV producers to devote a few lines of dialogue from time to time warning viewers about the dangers of driving drunk.

"The pitch is for each show to do it once or twice a season because to do it more would backfire," Winsten told the Los Angeles Times. "And if it doesn't work for the show, then it won't work for the audience. All I'm asking them is to reflect a new social norm against driving and drinking that is already taking hold in the United States. My hypothesis is that in reflecting those changes, they will reinforce them and add momentum to them."

Winsten says that 15 network series - including Baby Boom and Hunter on NBC, TV 101 on CBS and Mr. Belvedere and Who's the Boss? on ABC - have agreed to "lay in a few lines of dialogue" on the subject. And he's also convinced all three commercial networks to broadcast public service announcements promoting the "designated driver" program (where one member of a group stays sober to drive the others home) during the holidays.

Now if only he could help soap opera producers find some other prop their characters can use in every other scene besides a glass of booze.

"People are saying this is the first time since `Love Story' that Harvard and Hollywood have teamed up on anything," Winsten joked. And the analogy makes sense, I guess. Because even more than love, driving sober means never having to say you're sorry.