Enough Is Enough

Feds are thinking about making states criminalize “drunk” driving at …… .05% blood alcohol content.

Speaking of “safety”, I think it’s safe to say that we have reached a moment of unbridled insanity on the drunk driving thing when this can even be proposed with a straight face.  I’ll take any reasonably competent 18 year old behind the wheel at .08 – never mind .05 – than a stone cold sober 75 year old.

Operating motor vehicles cannot be made absolutely safe.  You’re talking about a couple tons of metal rolling down a road at speed.  This is no longer about any rational concept of safety, this is about the same puritan impulses that brought us prohibition.

Not to mention this is a potentially huge boondoggle for the prison industrial complex, prosecutors and police, jailors and the endlessly moralizing therapeutic state.  Enough.

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9 Comments

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9 responses to “Enough Is Enough

  1. Min

    “I’ll take any reasonably competent 18 year old behind the wheel at .08 – never mind .05 – than a stone cold sober 75 year old.”

    Better make that a reasonably competent 25 year old. The 18 year old may have the reflexes, but not the judgement.

    Years ago I read about some research on driving under the influence. Some people became better drivers after a couple of drinks. Why? Because they drove more carefully to compensate for their lessened reflexes.

    Judgement counts. The stone cold sober 75 year old may not have the reflexes, but he will have the judgement.

    BTW, a legal question. What about ignorance of fact? An alcohol level of 0.06% may not be something that a person could detect about themselves, and other observers might not notice, either. Are people supposed to carry around machines and test themselves before they get behind the wheel?

    Thanks. 🙂

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    • Min, far be it from me to give legal advice here, but as a general rule ignorance of fact would not be a defense. The problem is that someone who has a glass or two of wine with dinner at a restaurant is by no sane measure “drunk”, but at .05 you couldn’t possibly be sure that you hadn’t crossed that line.

      I didn’t mean to denigrate the elderly, and what you say about judgment is valid. There are better and worse drivers in every category, and there’s just no reason to believe that such a minor amount of drinking differentiates that person’s ability from a large percentage of others who are on the road and whose abilities may be less than others’ for other reasons. Intelligence, for one. Do we start criminalizing driving while not sufficiently intelligent, for example?

      It’s just gotten silly.

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  2. Dennis

    JMRJ,

    The article states that “Currently, more than 100 countries on six continents have BAC limits set at 0.05 or lower, the safety board said.”

    Seems to make the standard seem reasonable then, no?

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    • It would depend on a lot of things before you come to that conclusion, Dennis. You’d have to know, for example, how those countries’ laws treat the matter. If it’s civilly, that’s one thing. If it’s a bare violation with no criminal consequences, that’s another.

      There’s no question that in the US this is a criminal matter, where there is the potential for imprisonment and life long reputational consequences.

      Sometimes there isn’t a bright line between a wrong that is civil and a wrong that is criminal. For example, there is negligence and then there is criminal negligence, fraud and criminal fraud.

      A driver with a .05 blood alcohol content wouldn’t meet any sane definition of criminal behavior. Indeed this is also true of .08 BAC, though of course we have to accept that this is where the law has gone.

      If this idea gets implemented, time to invest in taxi services. It will be one of the biggest growth “industries” around. Anyone out in the evenings socializing having had anything at all to drink would be taking a huge risk getting behind the wheel.

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  3. Dennis

    “Anyone out in the evenings socializing having had anything at all to drink would be taking a huge risk getting behind the wheel.”

    Which I think is the point. They want alcohol and driving forever separated.
    I don’t see any problem with that really. Drinkers would adjust, as would the markets involved.

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    • Dennis, I don’t think your opinion is outlandish, other than that I have a problem with using criminal sanctions to enforce ideal behavior. You’re using a shotgun to swat a fly. Spend a little time seeing what the criminal justice system really does day-to-day and you’ll see what I mean.

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  4. I don’t drive because I have a seizure disorder, even though I currently may only suffer from one or two seizures a year. Legally, I would therefore, be allowed to drive. The state in which I reside merely requires me to be seizure-free for 90 days. I have surpassed that limit on many occasions. However, I make the conscious choice not to drive — despite the many hardships that causes — because driving is stressful, stress triggers seizures, and quite honestly, I could never live with myself if I caused injury to another person because I drove and had a seizure while doing so.

    My fiance is a restaurant manager. He was trained to serve alcohol based upon such criteria as person’s size, the speed at which they consume alcoholic beverages, when they last ate, and whether or not they appear to be impaired or not. It’s never a perfect science, but is not based on BAC.

    I wonder though, who presents the higher risk? Me, the person who may have a seizure while driving. Or, the person with a BAC of .05? Opinions?

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  5. Dennis

    JMRJ,

    I see your point but I wouldn’t call it ideal behavior really. Driving is a privilege and to deter any alcohol related accidents society has an interest in prohibiting driving and drinking even if the limit is on the extreme safe side. Texting of any kind is prohibited as is other types of behavior that the state feels causes a road risk.

    Good question AA. And I actually worked with someone who was killed by a driver who had a seizure, and a friend who died because of drunk driving .

    Like

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