Abolish Drunk Driving Laws

If lawmakers are serious about saving lives, they should focus on impairment, not alcohol.

Last week Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo advocated creating a new criminal offense: "driving while ability impaired." The problem with the current Texas law prohibiting "driving while intoxicated" (DWI), Acevedo explained, is that it doesn't allow him to arrest a driver whose blood-alcohol content (BAC) is below 0.08 percent without additional evidence of impairment.

"People sometimes focus on how many drinks they can have before they'll go to jail," Acevedo told the Austin-American Statesman. "It varies….A person may be intoxicated at 0.05, and you don't want them out driving." Acevedo wants to be able to arrest people with BAC levels as low as 0.05 percent, and he may have support for that idea in the state legislature. John Whitmire (D-Houston), chairman of the state Senate's Criminal Justice Committee, told the Statesman Acevedo's plan "might be one way to go," adding, "Some people shouldn't be driving after one drink—probably below the 0.08 limit—and this could address that."

Bill Lewis, head of the Texas chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, agreed. "I don't see how it would hurt," he told the paper. "The level of 0.08 is where we know most people are good and drunk...and there are people who are driving at less than the limit who probably should not be. It might keep some people from driving [drunk] again."

Acevedo, Whitmore, and Lewis are right, although probably not in the way they intended. People do react to alcohol differently. For many people one drink may well be too many, while experienced drinkers can function relatively normally with a BAC at or above the legal threshold for presuming intoxication. A person's impairment may also depend on variables such as the medications he is taking and the amount of sleep he got the night before. Acevedo et al.'s objections to the legal definition of intoxication highlight the absurdity of drawing an arbitrary, breathalyzer-based line between sobriety and criminal intoxication.

The right solution, however, is not to push the artificial line back farther. Instead we should get rid of it entirely by repealing drunk driving laws.

Consider the 2000 federal law that pressured states to lower their BAC standards to 0.08 from 0.10. At the time, the average BAC in alcohol-related fatal accidents was 0.17, and two-thirds of such accidents involved drivers with BACs of 0.14 or higher. In fact, drivers with BACs between 0.01 and 0.03 were involved in more fatal accidents than drivers with BACs between 0.08 and 0.10. (The federal government classifies a fatal accident as "alcohol-related" if it involved a driver, a biker, or a pedestrian with a BAC of 0.01 or more, whether or not drinking actually contributed to the accident.) In 1995 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration studied traffic data in 30 safety categories from the first five states to adopt the new DWI standard. In 21 of the 30 categories, those states were either no different from or less safe than the rest of the country.

Once the 0.08 standard took effect nationwide in 2000, a curious thing happened: Alcohol-related traffic fatalities increased, following a 20-year decline. Critics of the 0.08 standard predicted this would happen. The problem is that most people with a BAC between 0.08 and 0.10 don't drive erratically enough to be noticed by police officers in patrol cars. So police began setting up roadblocks to catch them. But every cop manning a roadblock aimed at catching motorists violating the new law is a cop not on the highways looking for more seriously impaired motorists. By 2004 alcohol-related fatalities went down again, but only because the decrease in states that don't use roadblocks compensated for a slight but continuing increase in the states that use them.

The roadblocks are also constitutionally problematic. In the 1990 decision Michigan v. Sitz ,the Supreme Court acknowledged that stops at sobriety checkpoints constitute "seizures" under the Fourth Amendment but ruled that the public safety threat posed by drunk driving made them "reasonable." In the years since, the checkpoints have become little more than revenue generators for local governments. When local newspapers inquire about specific roadblocks after the fact, they inevitably find lots of citations for seat belt offenses, broken headlights, driving with an expired license, and other minor infractions. But the checkpoints rarely catch seriously impaired drivers. In 2009, according to a recent study by researchers at the University of California at Berkeley, 1,600 sobriety checkpoints in California generated $40 million in fines, $30 million in overtime pay for cops, 24,000 vehicle confiscations, and just 3,200 arrests for drunk driving. A typical checkpoint would consist of 20 or more cops, yield a dozen or more vehicle confiscations, but around three drunk driving arrests.

Checkpoints are only the beginning of what California DWI attorney Lawrence Taylor calls "the drunk driving exception to the Constitution." The Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination has been turned upside down by state laws that instantly suspend the licenses of drivers who refuse to take roadside breath tests. Those breath tests are also fraught with problems. Most manufacturers of breath test machines have refused to turn over their source code, meaning DWI defendants can't assess the machines' margin of error, which can be a significant factor in a case where the difference between 0.80 and 0.79 for a first offense can be $1,000 or more in fines, mandatory alcohol awareness classes, and loss of driving privileges for up to a year.

Blood tests are far more accurate, but by the time a driver is pulled over, questioned, taken to the nearest hospital, and had his blood drawn, his BAC may be significantly different from what it was when he was driving. Perversely, the time lapse can have the effect of protecting guiltier motorists. Imagine a driver pulled over or stopped at a checkpoint after having "one for the road," knowing his house is a short drive away and the last drink won't kick in until he's sitting on his couch. At the time he is stopped, he is under the legal limit. But his BAC is rising, and it tops 0.08 by the time his blood is drawn at the hospital. By contrast, a driver who is impaired when he's pulled over, but who stopped drinking an hour or so before, benefits from the delay, since his BAC is falling by the time he arrives at the hospital.

Many states have tried to solve this problem by claiming another invasive power: They are now allowing police to forcibly take a blood sample on the side of the road.

These ever-expanding enforcement powers miss the point: The threat posed by drunk driving comes not from drinking per se but from the impairment drinking can cause. That fact has been lost in the rush to demonize people who have even a single drink before getting behind the wheel (exemplified by the shift in the government's message from "Don't Drive Drunk" to "Don't Drink and Drive"). Several studies have found that talking on a cell phone, even with a hands-free device, causes more driver impairment than a 0.08 BAC. A 2001 American Automobile Association study found several other in-car distractions that also caused more impairment, including eating, adjusting a radio or CD player, and having kids in the backseat (for more on such studies, see the 2005 paper I wrote on alcohol policy for the Cato Institute).

If our ultimate goals are to reduce driver impairment and maximize highway safety, we should be punishing reckless driving. It shouldn't matter if it's caused by alcohol, sleep deprivation, prescription medication, text messaging, or road rage. If lawmakers want to stick it to dangerous drivers who threaten everyone else on the road, they can dial up the civil and criminal liability for reckless driving, especially in cases that result in injury or property damage.

Doing away with the specific charge of drunk driving sounds radical at first blush, but it would put the focus back on impairment, where it belongs. It might repair some of the civil-liberties damage done by the invasive powers the government says it needs to catch and convict drunk drivers. If the offense were reckless driving rather than drunk driving, for example, repeated swerving over the median line would be enough to justify the charge. There would be no need for a cop to jam a needle in your arm alongside a busy highway.

Scrapping the DWI offense in favor of better enforcement of reckless driving laws would also bring some logical consistency to our laws, which treat a driver with a BAC of 0.08 much more harshly than, say, a driver distracted by his kids or a cell phone call, despite similar levels of impairment. The punishable act should be violating road rules or causing an accident, not the factors that led to those offenses. Singling out alcohol impairment for extra punishment isn't about making the roads safer. It's about a lingering hostility toward demon rum.

Radley Balko is a senior editor at Reason magazine.

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  • Spoonman.||

    Sensible and logical. I predict at least one person calls you a murderer.

  • Chony||

    Murderer!

  • David||

    Communist!

  • ||

    Communist murderer!

  • DeSelby||

    That one could be construed as a compliment.

  • antonio||

    Murderer that follows communist ideals!

  • The Monster||

    I lost one of my brothers to a drunk driver, so I have Absolute Moral Authority here. Drinking is not the problem; impairment is. I have long advocated a simple test for impairment. A Reaction Time Recording Device (RTRD) could be mass produced for a very low price (probably well under $50). It would have three large buttons with lights built into them (like "tap lights") in a row, spaced 6" apart, and an LED digital display across the top.

    The officer instructs the driver to choose a hand to use for the test, and hold the other hand behind the back. The driver places the test hand on the center button and holds it down. After a random 1-5 second delay, one of the other two buttons will light up. The driver is then to pull the test hand off the original button and hit the lit button. This process repeats until 12 buttons have been lit and pressed. The system records the time between light and press, throws out the shortest and longest trials, leaving 10 samples from which an average is computed by adding them together and shifting the decimal point (making the math very simple, to keep the cost of the device down). The law would specify a maximum reaction time for an unrestricted license (drive anywhere anytime) and a longer maximum for restrictions such as "no interstate highways".

    The entire operation can be recorded on video (including the splits showing up on a display on the device) for admission into the trial record. The whole test should take under a minute.

  • ElCiD||

    I always thought that playing Simon should be the standardized test for driving.

  • ||

    While I can't disagree with any of the arguments made in this article, I think Mr. Balko does himself a great disservice when he encourages people to throw shoes at a sitting President of the United States. He also is a sympathizer of anarchists groups and likes to eat tomatoes that are grown within a 3 mile area of where he lives.

  • Point and Shout||

    Locavore!

  • Top Notes||

    It's Twist and Shout!

  • ||

    Actually he probably doesn't eat tomatoes that are grown with in 3 miles of his house. If he believes in free markets he won't listen to the buy local garbage.

  • ||

    No kidding, I totally agree with you. There is something fundamentally weird with these local eater people that blows my mind. There is nothing libertarian about paying $7 a pound for tomatoes instead of $2.79 at the Piggly Wiggly or WalMart. Here's the deal, Balko and a few others at Reason are not really libertarians, they're liberals. About late 2007 they were given jobs to write stories that attack the American way of life from a new bull shit angle called left-libertarian. It's really just being a liberal and occasionally attacking both sides, but since nobody listens to Time or Newsweek anymore let's try another angle. So now we have Obama and the country is in real trouble. Maybe if we could get that guy in Iraq to throw a shoe at Obama.

  • JohnD||

    Obama was lucky it was a book. It should have been a brick.

  • ||

    If you're using some "locavore" fad-following to prove someone isn't a libertarian, then you aren't proving anything. What he chooses to do with HIS own money is HIS business, not yours.

  • ||

    Being a locavore is just one of many symptoms for Mr. Balko. Go to his personal website agitator.com and you will see that he has a large following of anarchists, routinely makes fun of the tea party (all though he likes Rand Paul), hates Bush and buys into all the kook 9/11 DailyKos crap. He's a liberal, which is fine, it's the dishonesty I hate.

  • ||

    the fascist states of america.

    don't worry if you haven't actually harmed anyone or anything, they will throw you in jail.

  • Jorj X. McKie||

    We are all accidents waiting to happen.

  • Edwin||

    See? Here we go. Here's some full-retard in action

    multiple times I;ve heard libertarians advance such an argument as this one - that drunk driving should be completely legal. That you should only be prosecutable AFTER you've hit someone. That's fucking retarded. When you're driving drunk, you're creating a serious risk, which is an externality. Can I set up some wood targets in the middle of a public park, and start target practicing, let's say, facing the playground? Hey, you have no right to stop me UNTIL I actually shoot one of the kids!!!

    Seriously, fucking admit it. Only libertarians are THIS FUCKING RETARDED on a regular basis (not that all libertarians are this stupid, but such idiots pop up disproportionately in libertarian circles).
    I mean OMG this kind of shit is SO STUPID. It fucking makes me ashamed that you're part of the same species as I am.

  • Edwin||

    How long is it going to take before someone admits that retards like this show up way too much in libertarianism?

  • Edwin||

    and someone making a snide comment assuming I'm a leftist/liberal in 3... 2... 1...

  • PeeDub||

    I just assume you can't read.

  • ||

    You don't have to be a "leftist/liberal". The "right" has just as many statists, badge fluffers and safety nazis.

  • rriord2||

    Yes, a bi-partisan initiative leading to the industrial world's highest drinking age:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N.....ng_Age_Act

  • rriord2||

    Yes, abolish the drinking age! Don't leftists want to be more like Germany and Belgium anyways?

  • ||

    Did you even read the article?

  • Mike the Grouch||

    Good god. I have a vastly more libertarian solution. Stop policing the roads entirely. But sell them to private owners first! The auto-based transit system in this country is totally socialist in its origins and current implementation.

  • ||

    That's not a bad idea, but I can tell you this: if you sold a road to a private investor, there is no way he would let you drive it with any alcohol at all in your blood. Who needs that kind of risk to your precious investment?

    Furthermore, there'd be none of this hide-n-seek game with enforcement officers trying to catch you on the road. You'd have to submit to a breath test before you were even allowed on the road. And if you ever tested positive, I bet you'd be banned from the road for life.

    I mean, think of it this way: say your friend wants to borrow your car -- your only car, a new one you like, and for which your back is breaking with payments. If he arrives saying he's had a drink or two, but nooo problem, are you going to hand over the keys and figure you'll sue him later if he screws up? Ha ha.

    This isn't an argument for or against government prohibiting driving drunk. In the main I agree with Balko. I'm just pointing out that a private investor, with much more than the lives of random citizens (for which the government bears zero liability) at risk, is going to be much more careful to prohibit dangerous behaviour up front. And with no concern at all for Constitutional concerns, because the Constitution doesn't apply to private property.

  • ||

    Private roads would have their own natural limits to these sorts of arcane measures. If one road allows for more risk than others in terms of "drunk" driving, that road will get business (tolls or whatever the model is based on) than the road owned by the overly conservative owner who goes out of his way to be a douche bag to his customers. I would even go so far as to say that one person might open a road parallel to another private road for the purposes of competing with it. The private owners would therefore have to find a natural balance of risk and that balance would necessarily have to land clear of the authoritarian arrangements you described, simply because people would not be interested in using that road.

    Also, the law does not have to be completely silent here. If there are laws against reckless driving, but none against drunk driving, then the owner has no criminal legal recourse against the motorists he routinely checks, therefore, his only legal recourse is the civil enforcement of whatever contract might be binding between road owner and driver. At a certain point, it would become cost prohibitive to go through all of these authoritarian checks and stops, and this will make the owners road even less profitable than his competitors.

    The door obviously swings both ways. If an owner becomes too lax in his enforcement, the road becomes dangerous or is at least perceived as dangerous because of its overly lax enforcement so rational people will be less inclined to use at certain times, out of concern for their own safety. When this mechanism kicks in, the owner will be forced to add enforcement. We see these market forces at work in bars. The safe bars are safe because the owner exercises some control over who comes in, how much they drink and how rowdy they are allowed to be before they get tossed. The only problem with this example is that there are too few bars, simply because in many places it is too difficult to get a liquor license (among other barriers to entry). If the development of private roads were to be heavily regulated by the government, there would be less competition and these market forces that would keep the roads at a safe medium level of enforcement would be pulled out of alignment by local monopolies.

  • Mike the Grouch||

    I am simply pointing out that no real libertarian should be supporting anything but complete privatization of the nation's communal transportation system. Once that is done, other than laws to protect personal rights and property in traditional fashion, the government should simply not be involved.

  • Joe||

    That's not what he said at all. He's saying the reason you are impaired should not matter, just that you are in fact, impaired. He is in no way saying not to arrest reckless drivers until they cause an accident. He is in fact saying the exact opposite, that more should be arrested regardless of the factors that lead to them driving recklessly.

  • ||

    Damn, dude, RTFM next time:

    "...swerving over the median line would be enough to justify the charge."

  • ||

    I meant "RTFA"... but you can RTFM, too if you want. :-)

  • Soonerliberty||

    Except that in experiments in England and the Netherlands, less laws lead to safer driving behavior. There is also a positive externality to driving drunk: I have fun driving and I'm more relaxed than the road ragers.

    Actually, this is the standard for law. There is no right to stop anyone for any reason without probable cause.

    Privatize the roads and you solve this. They could have much stricter rules than we do now.

    Or you could rant and rave, using language like "OMG, I mean, like, am I the same specie as you, I mean, like, wow." This does wonders for your intellectual reputation.

  • Edwin||

    "There is also a positive externality to driving drunk: I have fun driving and I'm more relaxed than the road ragers."

    Wow. Just Wow.

    Any of yous guys finally ready to admit you've got a lot of retards in your group?

  • Soonerliberty||

    Called being facetious...externalities are bullshit is the point. You obviously missed that.

  • Jorj X. McKie||

    You know what's retarded? All the stone-sober Edwins of the world get to drive like complete idiots and the cops don't do shit because they're too busy collecting revenue. What were are saying is simple. ALL dangerous drivers should be treated as such, not just the drunk ones. And having a bit of beer in your tummy does not automatically make you a murderer-in-waiting.

  • Edwin||

    of course A beer won't, but look at what some of your compatriots are saying, they're saying a FEW beers, and multiple times I've heard libertarians saying that drunk driving laws shouldn't be there altogether. There's even a Lew Rockwell article on it:
    http://www.lewrockwell.com/roc.....iving.html

    If you're going to deny that a shitload of libertarians are fucking retarded, then you're in denial

  • Jorj X. McKie||

    Well I guess denial ain't just a river in Egypt. Look, do you at least agree that all dangerous drivers should be taken off the road, no matter what the "cause" of their poor vehicular operation? If so, why should a dangerous driver be let off the hook just because he isn't drunk?

    It seems to me, for instance, that there are many dangerous drivers whose main problem is they are too old, or maybe to young/immature, to operate a vehicle safely. Yet these people seem to get the benefit of the doubt that someone with a .08 BAC never gets.

  • Mike||

    You're still missing the point, retard. If you drink a few beers and then start driving down the road swerving, or driving without your lights on... or driving at a dangerously different speed than other traffic, you will still get pulled over for reckless driving. It won't matter that there's no drunk driving law, the reckless asshole will still go to jail.

  • ||

    Considering some breathalyzers will register .05 BAC if you've eaten a PIECE OF BREAD, we shouldn't be using that shitty technology anyway.

  • Educator||

    "Except that in experiments in England and the Netherlands, *less* laws lead to safer driving behavior."

    *Fewer*.

  • Carston||

    The justice system is in place to punish and/or provide justice for harm done. Once you begin to make laws in the name of prevention, there is no logical stopping point until the government has micromanaged every aspect of your life.

  • Edwin||

    Any of yous guys finally ready to admit you've got a lot of retards in your group?

  • Brandon||

    I'm sensing a lot of hostility toward the retarded here... Edwin, where did the special man touch you?

  • Brian R||

    +1 Hilarious

  • Jorj X. McKie||

    Maybe he touches them.

  • ||

    That depends. Are you in our group?

  • ||

    "The justice system is in place to punish and/or provide justice for harm done"

    Not totally true. Acting in a dangerous manner can/will also get you in trouble (and it should).

  • ||

    I don't think this article advocates driving while your central nervous system is altered by a intoxicant; it advocates a more intellegent use of police observaiton and detection powers to arrest persons who are operating an "intellegently" guided ballistic projectile (motor vehicle) while not fully cognizant of the task.

    That is not a cognitavley impaired observation.

  • ||

    I was going to impersonate a Mother Against Drunk Driving but I see Edwin already beat me to it.

  • Knoss||

    Not hit someone. Failing to signal or missing a stop sign or drifting into the other lane.

  • ||

    When you are driving PERIOD, it is dangerous. Its not the drunkenness that is of concern here, it is the impairment.

    If someone gets into a car and drives through a crowd of people COMPLETELY SOBER, it is the exact same thing as him doing it COMPLETELY DRUNK. Or do you believe that the results will somehow be better for the sober person?

    Furthermore, you seemed to have missed the paragraphs pertaining to cops being on the highway looking for ERRATIC drivers. If I am all over the road, I am either IMPAIRED or I really suck at driving, but either way, a cop has a duty at that point to stop me. How do you think you will go about prosecuting people who text while driving? Are you going to see them doing it all the time? Do you think people hold their phones up in the air for all to see when they are texting? No, they put them in their laps so that nobody can see, this is actually more distracting because your eyes are totally off the road. This distraction is as bad if not worse than driving drunk in terms of impairment, but yet, it is not as easy to prove because there is no good test for it. If I am just scrolling through my recent texts, do you think they will be able to determine that objectively I was texting? No, because there is nothing for them to show the judge.

    Regarding your shooting arrows in a park, nobody will let you do this. Only stupid or insane people would even want to try this. The cops are not going to arrest you for shooting arrows while being stupid, they will arrest you for shooting arrows recklessly towards children.

    And if this is stupid or retarded, please feel free to educate everyone as to WHY it is stupid or retarded, because simply saying it doesnt make it so.

  • Brian R||

    Good point - texting *is* dangerous. Therefore we should outlaw having a cellphone in the car. That's just as sensible as the "open container" laws that some states have.

    Anyone who says otherwise is retarded.

  • ||

    Texting isnt dangerous. Driving is dangerous. Driving while distracted is even more dangerous than just driving, but this does not mean that we should have laws against texting and driving and drinking and driving. We have laws against driving recklessly. Look for reckless driving and then arrest those people.

    Arbitrarily selecting one or two distractions over all others is retarded.

    I was rear ended by a guy who was distracted by a hot chick on the side of the road. How would we go about preventing this? The point is, if there was a cop following this guy, they would have seen that he was not staying in his own lane, and they could arrest him for this, otherwise, they would have to perform a field boner test. Hope the dudes not wearing sweat pants.

  • d||

    Re-adjust your snark detection settings. I think Brian R was kind of joking about the "open cell phone" laws.

  • Brian R||

    As long as the "field boner test" is administered by a hot female cop, I'm all for it!

    (for the record, "d" is correct - my prior comment was pure sarcasm.)

  • ||

    It was hard to tell. Sorry I do tend to be a bit reactionary, plus, I wanted desperately to use the field boner test example I couldn't resist.

  • ||

    I worry that this test will be used to entrap people for public indecency.

  • ||

    What does an open container prove, other than there's an open container in the vehicle? You might as well ban fermented fruit.
    Why are statists so afraid of the world? And especially, why are you afraid of the wrong things?

  • Botox Porcupine||

    Let me begin by pointing out the irony of you calling someone stupid whilst using the initialism "OMG" as if you were a fourteen year old girl.

    Are you? A fourteen year old girl, I mean?

    Further, you shouldn't criticize that which you have not read. Libertarians are not against reckless and negligent criminal statutes, nor does Balko (call him a liberal if you want) purport as much.

    Balko's point is that criminal statutes related to driving should be enforced based on the level of impairment, not how much alcohol one has drunk. After all, there are people who can easily drive with a .20, whereas an idiot like yourself probably struggles to drive and construct a valid criticism of an argument at the same time.

  • Edwin||

    Bullshit. Libertarians have repeatedly said they want to legalize drunk driving and repeatedly on this thread denied thet driving drunk is dangerous. Read the thread and see my links

  • ||

    I would also like to legalize firing flaming arrows into a crowd of children at the park, lobbing hand grenades at people randomly and shit sandwiches.

    When you say people want to "legalize" drunk driving, you are obviously missing the finer point of the article. "Drunk" is not the only really bad way to drive, but yet our legal system focuses heavily on BAC that it overlooks other less testable situations. Why do you need to make drunk driving illegal when reckless driving is illegal. If cops are looking to pull someone over, they should be looking for people who are reckless, if they happen to be drunk, then that is coincidental.

    Driving is dangerous in and of itself. Driving drunk is dangerous. Texting while driving is dangerous. Getting your knob polished while driving is dangerous. Of these three examples cops can only test for one, yet on any given day, there are probably more people texting and or getting their knob polished while driving than there are driving "drunk". Additionally, drunkeness is a condition that is hard to prove. The BAC does not tell the police if you are impaired, or even to what degree you are impaired. So instead of making people blow into a breathalyzer, sing the fucking alphabet backwards or do fucking nose touches in the middle of the road, just arrest pull over and or arrest everyone who is seen to be driving dangerously and charge them with reckless driving. Ya know what, the article says all of this and more, so instead of me re-typing the whole goddamn thing, just scroll up and read it yourself.

  • Edwin||

    you failed again retard.

    Read the fucking comments. Read my links. I'm not commenting on this particular article.
    Try paying attention you fucking fuck of a retard-fuck.

  • ||

    Why dont you just post your goddamn links. As far as anybody is concerned, your post above is on this article. And what exactly are you trying to prove anyway. Why dont you just come out and explain your points here, because I have no fucking idea what links you are referencing.

    And "fucking retarded fucked up fucktard retarded" comment in 3...2...1...

  • Graham Shevlin||

    Are you a full-time idiot, or are you just impersonating one?

  • ||

    I don't think "whilst" is much better than OMG, Mrs. Bronte.

    Otherwise, I agree.

  • ||

    and what species is that?

  • ||

    I'll extrapolate your shooing a gun in the woods argument to the probability that every time one drives a car, hits a golf ball, etc., he might kill someone. Shall we outlaw EVERY action with possible ill outcomes? How much do you trust your government to effectively monitor and punish your everyday behavior? You might also consider that blindly attacking others' intelligence reflects more on the attacker than his victim.

  • Speed Racer||

    Eliminate speed limits.

  • ||

    The most fun I had was in my 1986 Chevy Cavalier. The thing wasnt fast, but it had one of those digital dashboards that died some time around 1993 so i could never tell how fast I was going, which got me in trouble with a few cops along the way. Only side effect was that I could tell when i was low on gas either.

  • Brother Wolf||

    Yeah... good luck with that one.

  • ||

    WON'T SOMEONE PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!!!

  • Jeff P.||

    I do think of the children.
    While masterbating.

  • waffles||

    there oughta be a law against that

  • ||

    thinking?

  • Sean||

    No, children.

  • Jorj X. McKie||

    It's a well known fact that children are the main cause of pedophilia.

  • Attagirl||

    Misspelling masturbating?

  • Chris Hanson||

    Have a seat right over there.

  • James J.B.||

    Scrapping the DWI offense in favor of better enforcement of reckless driving laws would also bring some logical consistency to our laws, which treat a driver with a BAC of 0.08 much more harshly than, say, a driver distracted by his kids or a cell phone call, despite similar levels of impairment.

    Wow. The nannies have made so many gains in the thought processes (of even one of our guys...) Yes, it will all be better when we are nailing the "distracted" drivers too.

    1. No matter how much I talk on my phone or to my passenger - I am not physically impaired.

    2. All driving to some degree is distracted. No one can focus on the road in front of them and never lapse in attention.

    3. This statement will justify cell phone = talking children = DUI. Trust me, the government will not eliminate DUI, instead they will treat everyone else as harsh as DUIs.

    4. The cell phone "studies" are skewed by people that want laws against cells in cars. I do not believe that a cell phone, car radio, talking passengers, etc. are evils that the state must stop.

  • Pip||

    "Scrapping the DWI offense in favor of better enforcement of reckless driving laws would also bring some logical consistency to our laws, which treat a driver with a BAC of 0.08 much more harshly than, say, a driver distracted by his kids or a cell phone call, despite similar levels of impairment."

    That DUI laws exist in no way hinders enforcement of reckless driving laws. Quite the non sequitur, eh?

  • Carston||

    Yes it does, they just chase down people for DUI because they are such big money makers for the system. If they stop someone for driving erratically and find they haven't been drinking and don't have any drugs on them, they let them go.

  • ||

    You missed the point of the article. What Balko is saying is that the cause of the impairment doesn't matter so much as whether or not a person is driving recklessly because they are impaired. If someone is talking on a cell phone while drunk and masturbating to speed metal while driving, as long as they aren't driving recklessly then it shouldn't be a crime.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    That's exactly what I told the judge.

  • Pip||

    No, I understood the article. My point is we can enforce both Recless driving and DUI. I see no reason to eliminate DUI laws as I believe any one who drinks any amount of alcohol and drives is a selfish asshole who is willing to put others at risk either for convenience's sake or else is too cheap to pony-up cab fare.

    To assert that a 0.05% BAC does not impair some people's ability to drive is bullshit.

  • Pip||

    Recless spelling and punctuation should also be a crime.

  • ||

    SEE! 1st they went after the DUIs, but I don't drive, so I said nothing. Then they went after the bad spellars and those who, abuse, punctionation... ...

  • ||

    +10

  • ||

    ".....I believe anyone who drinks any amount of alcohol and drives is a selfish asshole who is willing to put others at risk..."

    I am not sure which is more breathtaking, your ignorance or your arrogance. There are so many things factually wrong with your belief about "impairment" it is difficult to know where to begin.

    If you didn't get enough sleep the night before, you are at least as impaired as someone who has had two or three drinks. If you drank a large glass of orange juice with breakfast and then got in your car, well then surprise! Chances are that OJ had enough natural fermentation going on to give you a BAC of at least .01 or .02. If you are distracted by kids in the back seat, or you are listening intently to George Noory's latest guest on the radio, you are impaired. If you are not feeling well, you are impaired. If you are taking pretty much any prescription medication, you are impaired. If you ae depressed or upset about an argument with your spouse or boss, you are impaired.

    To say that someone who has a glass of wine with dinner and then drives home from the restaurant is an a-hole and deserves to be arrested is just so flat-out wrong there are no words. Literally everything and anything that you may ingest can cause some degree on "impairment". Lack of sleep causes documented impairment in operating machinery, including cars. Emotional and/or mental stress causes real impairment. To say that none of these matters, and that the only thing that does matter is whether or not someone had wine with dinner or a beer at the neighborhood bar on the way home from work is a mindset that is arbitrary, capricious, and criminal.

    As a licensed pilot, the FAA says I can LEGALLY and SAFELY fly an airplane as long as my BAC is below .04. And while flying an airplane in congested airspace, there are all kinds of distractions, such as frequent radio communications with the control tower, the local TRACON, ARTCC, and also monitoring the common traffic frequency (CTAF). Not to mention getting enroute weather updates from Flight Service and automated weather reports (AWOS). And the distractions increase exponentially if I an flying on an instrument flight plan.

    And yet, the FAA says it is SAFE and LEGAL for me to do all this with a BAC of up to .04. But in your judgement, if I drive a car with a BAC of .01 then I am an a-hole and deserve to be prosecuted.

    The truth of the matter is that the pundulum has swung so far in the MADD direction that simply breathing in the aroma of a fine cabernet before driving is a crime. It is sheer madness. The .08 definition of legal impairment was politically driven and should never have been lowered from .01. Even the .01 BAC was probably too stringent. It is not and never was the .08 to 1.2 social imbibers who were causing most of the the alcohol-related accidents. It is and always was the .17 to 2.0 and above who were causing most of the wrecks. The feds and the state and local municipalities have been barking up the wrong tree for far too long now. It is time that common sense be factored into the drunk driving laws, as they are currently anything but sensible or reasonable. (By the way, I have never had a DUI nor ever been pulled over for suspicion of such.)

  • Pip||

    You really, really don't get it. I say throw everyone whose ass is impared while driving into the slammer. In addition to that I say throw everyone whose ass is driving with alcohol in their syastem into the slammer.

    Its not an A or B thing, it's an A and B thing.

    Get that through you thick head and you will save a shit load of time by not arguing with yourself.

  • ||

    No, it is YOU who does not get it, Mr Pipsqueak. The fact is that EVERYONE, including YOU, has driven while "impaired" and will continue to drive while "impaired" from time to time. You will find your own ASS thrown in jail as well as the tens of millions of others who would be jailed under your Kim Jong Mentally-Ill plan.

    Just because YOU think that anyone with .01 of alcohol in their body is too "impaired" to safely drive a car does NOT mean such an absurd notion is actually true.

    You are a lunatic. Either get over yourself, or get some professional help, or consider emigrating to Cuba or North Korea, where you could be much happier having Maximum Leader mandating anything and everything to be a jailable offense.

  • The Gobbler||

    That's some damn fine trolling, Pip. I tip my hat to you.

  • Jorj X. McKie||

    Pip & Edwin, the first links in my wonderful chain of delight. I call it: The Human Centipede!

  • Simon Jester||

    That's interesting that a Pilot chimes in as I personally think motor vehicles should be treated more like flying. I'm pretty libertarian but when it comes to poor drivers i just want to be safe. Although I agree you are an asshole if you drink and drive I also believe you are an asshole for excessive speeding, tailgating, not using your turn signal, or any other violation of traffic rules people abuse daily as if nothing is wrong, you would all loose your licence under my watch. We need to stop driving our vehicles and start piloting them.

  • Highway||

    Any amount? ANY amount? So you have a regular margarita at the beginning of a mexican dinner that takes 90 minutes, and you're a 'selfish asshole who is willing to put others at risk'? Or you go out and sing karaoke for 4 hours and have 2 drinks, then switch to Diet Cokes for the last two hours?

    There's no impairment there. There's no law breaking there. But you, Mr. Know-It-All Pip have decided that that's going to kill people.

    You were born a century too late. You'd have fit in great with the WCTU.

  • Pip||

    "Any amount? ANY amount? So you have a regular margarita at the beginning of a mexican dinner that takes 90 minutes, and you're a 'selfish asshole who is willing to put others at risk'? Or you go out and sing karaoke for 4 hours and have 2 drinks, then switch to Diet Cokes for the last two hours?"

    Red Herrings, bucko. In either case, you'd blow a 0.00 % BAC.

  • Mike||

    Or, you might not.

  • Mike||

    Good thing I know exactly when I'll blow what given an arbitrary unknown calibration instead of paying attention to how intoxicated I am. You're saying if I leave 20 minutes earlier and blow a .01 I should be arrested and thrown in jail but if I wait the 20 minutes I shouldn't? Seems crazy... what makes more sense to me is that in either case if I'm not swerving, I'm fine, if I am, I'm not fine.

  • Tank||

    Thank you! Being a selfish asshole and/or cheapskate should be illegal, punishable by death.

    Selfishly, I'd like to see them killed by being forced to fight lions, but that's probably cost-prohibitive.

    Oh, shit.

  • ||

    Pip figures "any one who drinks any amount of alcohol and drives is a selfish asshole who is willing to put others at risk either for convenience's sake or else is too cheap to pony-up cab fare."
    What about parents who drive without putting their kids in car seats? License suspension for 18 months? Seized vehicle? Asset forfeiture?
    You standard for gratuitous state intervention is farcically easy to puncture.

  • ||

    The number is only as good as the measurement.

    http://www.duiblog.com/2005/03.....-of-bread/

  • James J.B.||

    Um, No. He said similar levels of impairment. What is the basis for that statemet? The nanny studies that everyone here rails against.

    The minute you concede that you are "distracted" by talking on the phone or to a passenger - you shouldn't drive, vote, or interrupt the adults when they are talking.

  • Zeb||

    Some people are distracted by using the telephone while driving. If that causes them to drive in a dangerous way, I don't see why that should not be punished the same as dangerous driving caused by anything else (such as alcohol).

  • ||

    _Some_ people are. It's true. But again, shouldn't wait for someone commit a crime (in the libertarian sense: harm to another) before they're accused of a crime?

  • waffles||

    shit, I vote at least once, sometimes three, four times a day.

  • ||

    What Balko is saying is that the cause of the impairment doesn't matter so much as whether or not a person is driving recklessly because they are impaired

    I think that's wrong. See, if you're talking on the cell phone you can hang up and instantly be unimpaired. If you're yakking with your friends in the back seat, you can have a near miss and be frightened enough to realize you should pay attention to what's going on -- and you can. The key aspect here is that your judgment is unimpaired, meaning if you're doing something stupid, your brain is working well enough that there's a chance you can realize it and stop doing it, instantly.

    That's not the case with chemical intoxication. If you're drunk, then first of all there's no way you can instantly stop being drunk. Plenty of people driving drunk realize they shouldn't be doing so, and fervently wish there was some way to stop being drunk immediately -- hence the black coffee, the open windows in 32 degree weather, the loud radio, whatever.

    Secondly, the problem with intoxication is that your judgment is whacked. You don't evaluate risks and benefits correctly. Even if there is a way to minimize the risks of intoxication, you're not likely to take it, because you aren't evaluating the risks correctly. Heck, this is why it's easy for cops to nail people who are intoxicated. Almost none of them have the presence of mind and good judgment to act in their own best interests at a traffic stop.

    What Balko's article overlooks is the important distinction between taking stupid risks and being stupid about evaluating risks. It's not unreasonable to argue that the latter is a much bigger problem.

  • ||

    I stopped masturbating to speed metal after a friend of mine pulled his own dick off.

  • ||

    I suspect the eventual evolution here, in 20 years or so, will be to prohibit driving a car manually. It will be computers in charge.

  • ||

    Leaving your hermetically sealed bubble is prohibited. All persons found outside of their bubble will be euthanized for the safety of society.

  • ||

    Stop stealing Edwin's material.

  • ||

    Which one, euthanasia or the bubble?

  • Pope Jimbo||

    Even when cars are completely automated, I would bet my last dollar that it will still be illegal to be in one while drunk, or to have an open container.

    The nannies will scare anyone with the specter of a system crash which would require the drivers to take over manually for a bit. And if they are drunk, "think of the children!" thus the continuing prohibition on being drunk while moving.

  • ||

    So, if Police Chief Art Acevedo can argue that some people are impaired with a BAC of 0.05 (or less!), he should be willing to admit that there are some people who are not impaired with a BAC of 0.10 ... right?

  • ||

    Don't lay this one on Police Chief Art while he's driving.

  • Beezard||

    + 3 Schlitzes

  • sarcasmic||

    This entire argument is based on the false premise that laws exist for the purpose of public safety.

    Laws exist to be obeyed.

    They exist to punish those who dare to substitute their own judgment for those superior people who call themselves lawmakers.

    We are not a free people ruled by law.

    We are subject to rulers who impose their whims on us through a perverted system of law designed to create criminals and justify the existence of an ever intrusive police state.

  • Edwin||

    I DON'T GET TO DO EVERY LAST THING I WANT!!!! WEE-OO-WEE-OO-WEE-OO-WEE!!!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0JElywbkSbY

  • Stephen VanDyke||

    1 internets to you, good sir... for making me laugh.

  • Officer McDougle||

    Most traffic laws exist to provide revenue.

  • ||

    No shit. But that's no argument against them, any more than the typical leftist/statist complaint that Microsoft sells software not to make their customers happy, the greedy bastards, but merely to make money so that they can fly off to the Caribbean and go snorkeling in the winter.

    A good libertarian recognizes that actors have different, usually self-centered, motives for any transaction, and works to harness that to the mutual good. You can't argue that we should be amoral about actors in the business market -- but then get all morally indignant when it comes to evaluating government actors.

  • Edwin||

    uhhhh.... no. Just no. Basic traffic laws were not passed to provide revenue. You really think that was what the relevant state politicians in each state were thinking of decades ago when they passed speed limits and drunk driving laws? Please. It's just common sense safety.

  • Soonerliberty||

    Do you really ascribe only positive qualities to politicians? Do you really believe they had no ulterior motives? They may have both. You can't assume one or the other.

  • sarcasmic||

    Public servants are immune from greed.
    Their only motivation is the common good.
    They only think of others and never of themselves.
    They do not seek power for the sake of power, and they never abuse power for power's sake.
    Well, Republicans might, but that's only because they are greedy and abusing their positions for monetary gain.
    Besides that you're looking past intentions.
    Only intentions matter.
    The fact that these laws have been abused for the purposes of revenue and power doesn't matter.
    If you question the results then you will be attacked for opposing the intentions.

    Got it?

  • ||

    Plus they turn into unicorns after they retire. . . which helps explain why there are no such things as unicorns.

  • Edwin||

    Bullshit. If you're talking about the basic laws like speed limits and drunk driving, then that's it - safety. Politicians are bastards, but that doesn't mean every conspiracy theory you idiots come up with is correct. Sometimes, when there's a simple issue like this, and no real political controversy or partisanship involved (other than from retardotarians), they just use common sense.

  • sarcasmic||

    Oh yeah, like some guy all alone on the road with a couple beers in his belly going a bit faster than the sign says is a threat to public safety.

    He is, if caught, going to end up paying thousands and thousands of dollars between legal fees, fines, paying to get back his confiscated property (if he gets it back that is), lost income, increased insurance, mandatory classes and treatment... all in the name of public safety when had he done the same exact thing in high traffic he would have made it home safely.

    When someone questions the results you attack them for opposing the original intentions.

    You, sir, are the retard.

  • Edwin||

    You just said that drunk drivers and speeding doesn't endanger the public any more than sober people driving under the speed limit

    You're the retard

  • ||

    No, Edwin, you're the evidence-denying mental defective.
    The Alberta Motor Association (and probably its related organizations in other provinces and states) has published data that shows that speeding isn't in and of itself the cause of accidents as much as vehicles travelling at widely variable rates. So if everybody's speeding, no problem. If everybody's going 60 but you're poking along at 30 b/c you're afraid of your own shadow, you're the hazard, not the speeders.
    Again, you're so busy calling people retarded that your ability to process new information has stunted your mental acuity.
    Go argue with the monkeys at the zoo. At least you'll win once in a while.

  • Edwin||

    Wow, OK. So you just proved my point. It is reasonable to set a speed limit, it reduces danger, since people are going to travel at or around it.

    And no, that isn't so. You're less of a hazard of you're the slower odd-man-out than if you are the faster odd-man-out. Ever seen those fucks that drive like crazy on the highway?

  • Mike||

    No, the 30 mph driver is the danger. At least he cited a source. You may not believe in the legitimacy of the study, which is fine, but you're just throwing out your own ideas and saying "retarded" after them. Then you go on to attack him even more, and continue to ignore the actual citations involved. Who's the retard now? http://www.smbc-comics.com/ind.....2005#comic

  • brandin||

    So I was just driving through a neighborhood where the speed limit is 35 and a single car2go is weaving through packed traffic at 45. Almost kissed his bumper because he cutoff my brake distance when the light ahead of us turned red. Which of us was at fault if an accident did happen?

  • brandin||

    So I was just driving through a neighborhood where the speed limit is 35 and a single car2go is weaving through packed traffic at 45. Almost kissed his bumper because he cutoff my brake distance when the light ahead of us turned red. Which of us was at fault if an accident did happen?

  • Edwin||

    Seriously, where do sick fucks like you come from? How the fuck do you become so jaded that you place all your angers and problems onto one scapegoat ("the government") and then say stupid, sick shit that blatantly denies reality? What is it, got beat up too much in high school? Can't get laid? What?

  • Soonerliberty||

    It's not just government. It's the combination of government, corporations, unions, special interest groups, etc. God, you're blind.

  • Apogee||

    If you're talking about the basic laws like speed limits and drunk driving, then that's it - safety.

    So then you'd be ok with simply punishing people with jail time, and eliminating the 'fines', right?

    After all, revenue has nothing to do with it.

  • Edwin||

    Yes, actually that would work too.

    But that would be way too harsh. Moron.

  • DesigNate||

    Thunderstorms directly impair most people's ability to see, as well as changing the conditions of the road. Unlike talking on the phone or eating a big mac, you cannot stop the rain and thus you are still impaired by it. I submit to that we should outlaw rain.

  • Edwin||

    false application of concept - rain can't be outlawed and preventing driving in it would be too economically damaging, also you just aren't as impaired in it as say being drunk or texting

  • Apogee||

    Fuck you, Edwin the loser, and stop trying to justify taking people's money.

    You simultaneously imply that driving impaired is dangerous, and then opt for a system that favors the wealthy over something that actually addresses dangerous behavior towards others.

    If driving impaired is dangerous behavior, then you can incarcerate people for public endangerment, but you think punishing something that can kill others is 'harsh'.

    So it is about the revenue, which is why you avoided the question, you shit stain.

  • ||

    Earlier this morning, on CNBC, some idiot was equating "drunk" driving with cellphone/texting distractions, and calling for a ban.

    McDonald's is going to be pissed when the feds make them board up all those drive-in windows.

  • mgd||

    McDonals's can apply for a waiver. They know the routine.

  • Ronald||

    Who????

  • ||

    I would like a waiver with cheese, hold the mayo.

  • Danno||

    Once when I served jury duty, I was selected for a drunk driving case. But after I expressed my problem with using the arbitrary blood alcohol measurement (and how it didn’t truly indicate how impaired the person was), as well as my objection to sobriety checkpoints (which should be unconstitutional), I was dismissed as a juror.
    But my ideas were evidently too radical for the courtroom, the entire jury pool was considered ‘tainted’ by the prosecutor and everyone else was dismissed as well. I felt kinda bad at the time, but now when I look back on that incident I smile.

  • ||

    If it happens again, remember jury nullification! Just keep quiet during voir dire and then try to get your fellow jurors to judge the law as well as the facts.

  • sarcasmic||

    I thought jury nullification was a crime.

  • omg||

    Haven't people been put in jail for contempt of court for doing that? Specifically, I believe they have been put in jail for keeping quiet during voir dire.

  • David||

    I agree that lying during voir dire is contempt of court. I just so happen to feel a lot of contempt for most courts.

  • Danno||

    I'd rather not resort to jury nullification in a drunk driving case since I wouldn't want to condone drinking alcohol and then driving (which when done in excess is both stupid and irresponsible ). Instead, I'd rather save that option for a case dealing with truly victimless crimes such as drug possession or prostitution.

  • ||

    Shoulda got a medal for that one.

  • ||

    we should get rid of it entirely by repealing drunk driving laws.

    I predict a wave of horror, revulsion, and personal attacks. I can't wait to see you on MSNBC.

  • Orville Redenbacher||

    I agree completely with Mr. Balko. Only problem I can see is that it would leave police discretion alone to decide whether or not someone is driving recklessly. I can see the police using the "you crossed the fogline sir" excuse to arrest anyone they want. Of course this pretty much happens now as well, but at least with the .08 level you have some burden of proof on the police. I think a better option is pushing the limit back to .15 or higher. Yes, it is still arbitrary but I think the other option would lead to more police abuse.

  • ||

    Most people who are familiar and objective regarding the subject agree that .08 is too low. The large majority of serious injuries and fatalities caused by drunk drivers occur well above that level; I think .15 is a better cut-off if we have to have one because someone at that level really is too impaired to drive safely. I do agree with the other commenters that a driver talking on a cell phone should not be treated as severely as a driver who is so drunk he can barely stand up.

    I tell clients DUI is like domestic violence--at one point society ignored the problem, and now the pendulum has swung to the other extreme and a lot of people are getting arrested when they pose no threat to others. No exaggeration, about a quarter of the people I know have had a DUI. It seems everyone who has one drink and then drives is at risk. Maybe there will be a backlash as the net is cast wider and wider. Or maybe it will lose its stigma because it's becoming so common.

  • Cyto||

    Or they could issue a field sobriety test based on reaction time - video gaming for your life! Test kits would cost less than a breathalyzer and would work for any drug or drug combination.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Dr. Johnny Fever approves.

  • robc||

    Probably my 2nd favorite episode (behind the turkey episode, of course).

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    The one where Venus explains the structure of the atom is right up there, imo.

  • Mike the Grouch||

    what? this would be way too sensible.

  • ||

    Dangit, now I gotta brush up on my Sonic the Hedgehog.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    This.

    Turning criminal action that is now determined by an objective line (however erroneous and arbitrary it may be) into a subjective decision made by cops is a terrible fucking idea.

    I agree that some things here need to change, but taking a cop's word for it is the last thing I want to have as the sole burden of proof. Radley ought to know better than to trust the police with this type of decision making.

  • ||

    One point getting missed in all of this is that a breath test result is not required to convict for DUI. All states have 2 types of DUI--"per se" based solely on a breath test result, and "less safe," which means one is a less safe driver after having consumed ANY amount of alcohol. For the latter, all the arresting officer has to testify to is that there was a traffic offense and the person gave some evidence of alcohol consumption (e.g. alcohol on breath, slurred speech, admitted drinking, etc.)--no breath test is required for this.

  • ||

    I think that if there were video evidence to support the officer, it would be helpful. Most cop cars have dash cams. The rule is not perfect because swerving can be a subjective thing, especially if there is a pothole or a dead animal, or another person in the road to avoid, but these things could be caught on tape, and reasonable people can discern a single swerve from reckless driving, even though it is still subjective. The fact that evidence would need to meet a heavy subjective burden like this would require cops to be more careful about pulling people over and they may opt instead to record more evidence.

  • Contrarian P||

    Just require documentation of the suspect's impaired behavior with the dash mounted camera which practically every police car has these days. It's pretty hard to argue with videotaped evidence of your car with your license plate veering into the emergency lane.

  • robc||

    I prefer a graduated scale - something like .08-.11 is a ticket, .12-.15 is a misdemeanor, and .16+ is a felony.

    Those are "for instances" not any specific suggestion. But something along those lines.

  • Edwin||

    See? More retarded libertarian retardation.

  • Xenocles||

    All I see is more question begging from you.

  • ||

    So I, a simple retard may understand, what precisely is so retarded here? Please make a point, otherwise, you are simply making noise. My fucking vacuum cleaner makes noise, but it doesn't do anything until I put the part that sucks on the rug.

    Please put the suck end on the rug.

  • Xenocles||

    "Put the suck end on the rug" needs to make it into the national lexicon.

  • ACG22||

    No, looks like more reading comprehension and analysis failure from an Edwin. Moron. (Hey, this childish name-calling is fun!)

  • Jorj X. McKie||

    No one can be arrested for simply crossing a fog line, and it is moot as you already said "this pretty much happens now"- they already can and will pull you over for whatever reason they care to conjure up. It's what happens after that which matters. Proof of reckless driving/endangerment is not too tough. Cops have these things called cameras, which take videos, which a jury can view and decide if there was dangerous driving or not.

  • Xenocles||

    In WA you can be arrested for DUI at any BAC if the officer thinks you are impaired. In some jobs the arrest by itself can irreparably damage your career.

  • Jorj X. McKie||

    That such a thing could ever hold up in a court of law makes me want to weep.

  • ||

    I hate to sound like a nanny-state fuck on this one. (I really do)
    BUT,
    Texas roads have some seriously bad DUI incidents. I'm not talking about a majority of people driving w/ BAC ~.09. I mean drunks that are driving on the curb, off the road, or end up passing out in a ditch on the FM roads. I'm down for whatever makes the use of public roads safer from a libertarian standpoint. Whatever logical options are available that will be minimally intrusive are fine, but since it's public space, and not private, I don't see much of an issue setting very high standards for the motorists. I'm not sure where I stand on this because getting a DUI here seems to be a 'right of passage' or something weird among Texans, at least in the DFW metro area.

  • Contrarian P||

    There are laws on the books designed to stop those accidents. Laws do not prevent stupid behavior. As much as we try, there will always be those who will drink to excess and then decide to get behind the wheel of a car. Putting more and more laws into place will not stop this. It will, unfortunately, simply result in the harassment of more and more people who were no danger to society.

    In my home state, our august legislators decided to make it a primary offense (meaning one can be stopped for this alone) to drive without a seat belt. Although I'm sure they thought they were striking a blow for safety, they basically made it where a law enforcement officer can pull someone over at any time because they thought there was no shoulder strap in evidence. Think of the possible abuse that could create.

    Face it, increasing the scope and power of the law is not about protecting anyone, though that is how it is sold. More than anything, it's about bringing everyone into line with a utopian ideal, no matter how impossible the attainment of that utopia might be. I really wish there was a way to stop people from drinking to excess and driving while impaired. As a physician who works in an emergency department, I see the effects almost every day. Still, I am not willing to sell all my freedom for the illusion of safety, no matter how many rosy promises are attached.

  • ||

    I detest doing anything to give any more subjective discresionary authority to police or anything that would equate to more intrusive bullshit. However, I think that given the public nature of 99.999% of roads, your privacy is not likely to be taken as top priority.
    My biggest problem with most laws associated with driving are that they are soley designed to generate revenue at a city, county, or state level. Not wearing your seatbelt? That's 200 bucks. No insurance? Ouch, that'll cost ya. They're not about the general safety of hte public, else they'd be revoking a lot more driving privileges.

    I'm not advocating for 'more laws', just ones that will maximize freedom for motorists, while punishing severly those who endanger the safety and well-being of others. We can pretty much do away with the rest.

  • ||

    Preview button works wonders at 4:00am, I hear.

  • ||

    Also, thanks for the thoughtful response.

  • ||

    Also, thanks for the thoughtful response.

  • ||

    I think you're exactly right, which is why I think Balko, while probably right on the merits, is selling a dangerous fantasy.

    The advantage of a specific objective test for a DUI is that if you pass the test, then it's much harder for a cop and judge who don't like your looks, your accent, or your attitude to railroad you.

    I'm all for very specific laws, with nitpicky specifications of what a crime is and isn't. I'm not fond of leaving things up to the judgment of the officer on the scene, the prosecutor, and the judge sitting on a bad hemorrhoid the day you arrive in court.

  • Apogee||

    If you're all for specific laws with nitpicky specifications, and at the same time worried about a cop or judge that doesn't like your looks attempting to railroad you, then you need to figure out what the larger problems with our justice system are before signing on to more legislation.

  • ||

    The underlying discussion with this blog post is the arguments for proactive vs. reactive laws. While I understand the inefficiencies of drunk laws and their implementation, I understand the desire to attempt to stop the problem before it becomes, well, a problem.

    Advocating laws to combat reckless behavior without a systematic approach at determining what exactly causes this reckless behavior is a bit silly. After the fact laws condemning reckless behavior is playing a game of chicken I'm not interested in playing.

    I understand the difficulty in implementing these specific proactive reckless behavior laws and its relationship with violating personal liberty, but advocating for cops to only look for cars that are acting recklessly at the exact moment the cop sees them is silly. If information exists as to the causes of reckless behavior, why not advocate or argue laws that prevent reckless behavior while protecting individual liberty?

  • ||

    The very idea of "proactive" law enforcement is at odds with the philosophy of criminal justice outlined by our Constitution. We're guilty of a crime when we've committed a crime, not when we've met a certain number of pre-conditions that have been statistically correlated with crime.

    The deterrent effect is supposed to come from efficient, consistent enforcement of simple and straightforward laws against criminal conduct. A law that "prevents reckless behavior" is a law against said reckless behavior, not a law against some statistically correlated condition.

  • ||

    The very idea of "proactive" law enforcement is at odds with the philosophy of criminal justice outlined by our Constitution.

    Kinda reminds me of the Tom Cruise movie "Miority Report". It's difficult for me to understand how an otherwise safe and law-abiding driver who happens to have had a few beers beforehand should be deemed criminal.

    Consider the driver who crosses the center line and hits a Soccer Mom Van and kills the driver and 5 kids. Is it somehow less tragic or more forgivable because the offending driver was dunking his McNugget in BBQ Sauce or trying to advance their CD to Track 7 than it is that they're drunk above the legal limit? I just don't see how..

    Since MADD air bags and seat belt laws managed to push the percentage of drunk driving fatalities (stats in which MADD's deliberately included passengers, pedestrians, and bicyclists even when the drinker had not caused the accident) from ~50% in early '80s to 40% in the latter part of that decade, the figure's remained pretty consistent for the 20+ years since. IOW, lowering and re-lowering the legal limit's had no effect at all on the portion of alcohol related fatalities on the road. None. Zilch. Zero.

    Changing the radio station while not having an accident is not a crime. Why should driving under the influence without causing an accident or breaking any other rule of the road be one?

  • Ice Nine||

    Yeah, what say we not solely wait for cop-witnessed reckless behavior because the reckless behavior the cop witnesses just might well be some drunken asshole plowing his car head-on into mine, containing me and my family. I'm not a nanny-stater by any stretch but c'mon let's not ignore the obvious. Alcohol is involved in most trauma (35 yrs in the ER, trust me) and that goes for MVAs in spades (motor vehicle accidents, sorry). This is easy.

    I don't like sobriety check points and am fine with banning them. But I hate with a passion drunk drivers, having had a fairly steady diet of their handiwork. Use the legal limit law as a way to throw the freaking book at them (and yeah, we need to work on that part too) after we've found at least some of them incidentally, with cause. Do the obvious. Try at least to make a dent in homicidal drunk driving. I'm with the Japanese and the Europeans - legal alcohol limit when driving = .000. Those guys drink a whole lot and they do just fine with that. The only right that is thus abridged is the 'right' to commit a particularly prevalent form of vehicular mayhem.

  • ||

    The average person has no means of determining what his BAC is. This makes it difficult to avoid driving if your BAC is above the .08 limits but you are not actually impaired.

    The point of well written laws should be for the average person to know when he/she is in violation of the law.

  • Ice Nine||

    There are tables to figure this. Of course they are not perfectly accurate. If it turns out you don't fit those norms you can determine that you are outside of them pretty readily. Don't want to do that, buy a personal breathalyzer for 30 bucks.

    "Not actually impaired"? Guarantee you that 90% of the people who think they aren't impaired, are impaired.

  • Apogee||

    I'll also guarantee you that 90% of people mistakenly think they're great drivers (drunk or not), but nobody talks about requiring additional training.

    I'd gladly ride passenger with Danica Patrick blowing a .12 over an 85 y/o grandparent blowing stone cold sober.(I know, I said "blowing")

    There is nothing keeping people from driving impaired and plowing into your family - whether the reason is alcohol, drugs, sleep deprivation, stupidity or even just youth. Should we prohibit driving to anyone under 25? - that's also a statistically relevant group that causes accidents.

    Eliminate the revenue source (no fines, just criminal), and you'll see an actual shift towards public safety. The checkpoints are an unconstitutional scam - it's about the money.

  • Mohindrance||

    "Yeah, what say we not solely wait for cop-witnessed reckless behavior because the reckless behavior the cop witnesses just might well be some drunken asshole plowing his car head-on into mine, containing me and my family."

    How would eliminating the .08 BAC level prevent this? You even go so far as to suggest banning sobriety checkpoints. I suppose you would be all in favor of mandatory breathalyzer starters installed in every car?

    And, for that matter, a completely closed driver capsule preventing any contact with other passengers, cellular telephone technology, radio adjustment dials, etc! After all, this is your FAMILY, for god's sake! YOUR FAMILY!!!

  • DesigNate||

    If you're gonna go statist like Edwin (not saying you in particular are) I think we should go full blown statist and make the car companies invent something that reads your fingerprint and tests your BAC at the same time and install it on all things with wheels.

  • DesigNate||

    If you're gonna go statist like Edwin (not saying you in particular are) I think we should go full blown statist and make the car companies invent something that reads your fingerprint and tests your BAC at the same time and install it on all things with wheels.

  • ||

    If you worked in ER all those years, then you'll have no problem advocating for the elimination of prescription drugs, since they murder - ahem - an order of magnitude much greater number than drivers with BAC's > .000.
    But then, prescription drugs aren't a lobby group's well=funded hobby horse, like zero-tolerance driving is for the MADD wack-jobs.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    It is this very argument that fuels the War on Drugs, and is a terrible one.

    The compulsion to stop whatever bad may happen is the road to fuckdom.

  • ||

    Maybe if we can somehow convince them to ban the road to fuckdom, we can initiate a war on the road to fuckdom.

  • ||

    Okay, I agree regarding the drunk driving laws.

    However, I also think that this line of thought should be applied to a variety of other areas such as hate crimes legislation and firearms laws.

    Punish the behavior not the law abiding citizen.

  • Apogee||

    Where's the money in that?

  • ||

    If information exists as to the causes of reckless behavior, why not advocate or argue laws that prevent reckless behavior while protecting individual liberty?

    You apparently have a somewhat unique view of "liberty".

  • Edwin||

    Not really. Our society does this all the time, and it's perfectly reasonable. There's only so much one law or another can do, because of the limits of real-life effective enforcement. If a few small restrictions help more effectively protect more important freedoms, then that's a net plus. It's called trade-offs. You'll have grown up when you finally accept that they exist.

  • ||

    Please don't be his porn.

  • West Texas Boy||

    You'll have grown up when you finally accept that they exist.

    He's not the one who wants Daddy watching all the time.

  • Edwin||

    I don't want daddy watching all the time.

    All I said is that I recognize that laws are imperfect, and sometimes you might need to pass other laws to EFFECTIVELY protect a freedom that was only TECHNICALLY legally protected. Is that so hard to understand/think of examples where our society has done this?

  • ||

    So the solution to bad laws is to pass more laws?
    Oddly, my solution to feeling drunk is to drink more booze.

  • Edwin||

    that's not what I said.

    How about you actually try thinking every once in a while? You guys really are a bunch of reactionaries.

  • Soonerliberty||

    "Our" society. Just who is we? Are you including me in your we? Why this is just dandy collectivist anthill philosophy? We are a Volkskoerper and our overlords are really just us. This is braindead nonsense and the most tyrannical of thinking.

  • Sky||

    The problem with using the term "distracted" driving is that it gives police wide discretionary powers, and it seems libertarians don't much trust the judgment of the police. But as long as the police were able to articulate what was reckless about the way a person was driving - weaving in and out of a lane more than once, driving more than 25 miles over the speed limit, driving 10 miles below the speed limit, tailgating too closely, etc. - I think this would be a better way to go. One would not be pulled over simply for the act of using a cell phone or telling one's children to pipe down in the backseat, but for weaving, speeding, etc. The results would be judged without relevance to the cause of the results. On the other hand - if I'm distracted by my kids and get in an accident, I don't want to be judged as harshly as someone who drinks ten glasses of wine and then gets in a car and has an accident. There is a different moral quality there. So...I'm not sure where I stand on this.

  • Nash||

    I think context can be used here. The distracted driving / reckless driving degrees can be used as well. Also, dumping DWI doesn't mean breathalyzers couldn't be used to prove a driver reckless.

  • Ted S.||

    Wouldn't this be the difference between negligent/reckless/knowing/willful in terms of legal levels of wrongness? Being distracted by kids might be neligent; drinking ten glasses of wine would be willful.

    I think those were the four levels as related to me by a friend many years back when he was a 1L and just learning the stuff. I'm not a lawyer.

  • ||

    Being distracted by kids might be neligent; drinking ten glasses of wine would be willful.

    Willful how? Willful implies intent. Do you believe that the 10 glass drinker actually wanted to go out and have an accident and harm others?

  • ||

    "On the other hand - if I'm distracted by my kids and get in an accident, I don't want to be judged as harshly as someone who drinks ten glasses of wine and then gets in a car and has an accident. There is a different moral quality there. "

    Whoever it is that you kill while being distracted by your ill-mannered kids probably doesn't gain much comfort in heaven/hell/the cold hard ground that you weren't 10 drinks into an all-night bender.

  • ||

    Am I advocating any current laws or processes? No, i'm not. I'm merely suggesting that further discussion should be had in determining the most efficient laws to combat reckless behavior before we simply rely on reactive laws that heavily rely on police's proactive actions in the line of duty.

  • ||

    "instead focus on reckless driving"

    And who, pray tell, will do the "focusing"? The same cops you don't trust to enforce drunk-driving laws? Find the logical error!

  • mark||

    this.

    Police judgment would be questioned even more than now.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Police judgment is questioned now?

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    Sorry, I almost choked a little bit

  • Some Guy||

    I like this in theory, but how do we decide who is and isn't impaired? Are we giving the cops the ability to subjectively decide?

  • Danno||

    The issue is reaction time. Just as the DMV checks our eyes when we get our license, they should also have a response time test (like a falling ball and button to stop it) and print our results on our license. Police could carry a similar testing unit with them. If your response time is too slow (due to drinking, lack of sleep, old age, etc.) then you can't drive. Distracted driving would be another issue and would require testimony from the officer to be considered.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    I stand corrected. Dr. Johnny Fever approves of this.

    If there's no benefit to a faster reaction at initial testing, people are going to test as slowly as possible while still getting a license. I know I would.

    And what if my reaction time is slower than that shown on my license but still faster than average or faster than what other people have on their licenses?

  • Danno||

    Having a record of optimum reaction time would only be used to inform drivers how much they're currently impaired. As long as their reaction time is above some standard level (a level that would apply to everyone), then no law has been broken. This is no different than the vision requirement.

  • ||

    Assuming that one performs optimally on their baseline test. In what way do we ensure that the testees (*snicker*) took the test on a good day?

  • ||

    They already have that. The police are already pulling people over on some suspicion to give a test, or it's just a checkpoint.

  • Some Guy||

    But once pulled over, there is an objective (if imperfect) physical measurement that has to corroborate the cop's subjective one.

  • Edwin||

    "Scrapping the DWI offense in favor of better enforcement of reckless driving laws would also bring some logical consistency to our laws"

    Yeah. Because everyone cares about "logical consistency" in laws. It's not like things like the actual enforce-ability of laws, and simplicity in doing so, or limiting their scope to avoid authority over-reach matter.
    Breathalyzers are quick and easy to administer, and Balko's proposals set the stage for high amounts of government over-reach, by way of the vagueness inherent in them. You guys can't even apply your own philosophy effectively.

    Wonder why I keep saying you guys are fucking retarded? You really take this whole philosophy full retard.

    If you think the BAC level is too low, just say that, and say it should be changed. Don't go off all retarded on retarded tangents.

  • ||

    Please don't be his porn.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Sugarfree,

    I won't. I make a solemn promise, I won't.

  • OO======D||

    Can he be my porn? Because if so, I would first lube his ass up really good, you know, just to get it relaxed and accepting, after which I would slowly and erotically insert his pinhead.

  • Jorj X. McKie||

    Dude, your balls are on wrong.

  • ||

    Every time you say that, I keep imagining he's sitting at a computer desk with the lights dimmed, a nice glass of merlot in one hand, wearing a turtle-neck, his pants around his ankles, and furiously masturbating at his own posts.

  • ||

    "Breathalyzers are quick and easy to administer..."

    Actually, they're cumbersome and unreliable.

    The zoo monkeys are calling your name...

  • West Texas Boy||

    laws that prevent reckless behavior while protecting individual liberty?

    How do you feel about shooting goats?

  • zoltan||

  • ||

    "I like this in theory, but how do we decide who is and isn't impaired?"

    It's quite simple: how do normal people decide who's impaired now? We watch them do dangerous things.

    Let's just make sure all cops have dash cams, and require video evidence of every "impairment", that is, driving in a dangerous way:

    "But as long as the police were able to articulate what was reckless about the way a person was driving - weaving in and out of a lane more than once, driving more than 25 miles over the speed limit, driving 10 miles below the speed limit, tailgating too closely, etc."

  • Ariock||

    It is amusing to me that the libertarian response to violations of privacy by the police is to mount video cameras on all police cars.

  • Contrarian P||

    The cameras are already there. Your objection therefore appears to be that we are advocating the use of existing equipment. Cameras on police cars are very libertarian, as they provide a means to collect objective evidence to substantiate accusations. Recording the police to prevent abuse of power is the most libertarian thing I can think of.

  • TwoFingers||

    Cameras, radios, computers, etc, in cop cars are, by definition, distracting to driving and therefore should be banned. Prohibit reckless policing!

  • Jorj X. McKie||

    The camera is for the benefit of the jury. It only helps the cop when the cop is doing his job right. I don't see the problem really. Although I wish the cops would stop parking in my bedroom. My realdoll girlfriend gets freaked out.

  • Travis Ormsby||

    It would have been nice for you to link to the actual data on alcohol related fatalities, instead of a Cato study providing their characterization of the data.

    For what it's worth, you can get the actual numbers from the National Highway Traffic Safety administration here:

    http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/Crashes/CrashesAlcohol.aspx

    Checking the number of alcohol related fatalities per 1 billion miles traveled (you'll have to calculate this yourself since the feds won't do it for you) shows a sustained decrease between 1994 (the first year available) to 2008 (the last) from 5.03 to 3.57. There was a minor uptick in this statistic from 1999 - 2000 from 4.12 to 4.29, but this was the only year in the time range where the value increased.

    Fatalities per mile traveled is a much better metric than total fatalities because it controls for miles driven. All else being equal, we would expect there to be extra fatalities in years where people drove more. Characterizing the data this way nearly completely eliminates the "increase" in alcohol related fatalities Cato presumed to find.

    Additionally, contrary to your assertion that the federal government classifies an accident as "alcohol related" when BAC is above 0.01, NHTSA clearly states that "alchohol related" crashes involve only those driving whose BAC is above 0.08.

    But let's not let a little thing like information get in the way of a nicely ideological debate.

  • Beezard||

    A fair point, but is there a huge decrease in fatalities since states went to 0.08% after you jiggle the numbers?

    Some more poignant information would be the massive increases in money made by the state (and lawyers) since .08 was instituted.

  • Travis Ormsby||

    The decrease from 2000 to to 2008 was about 17%, about the same as the decrease from 1994 to 2000 of 15%.

    However, it's reasonable to assume decreasing marginal returns on drunk driving enforcement. That is to say that you don't have to do very much at first to get a whole bunch of drinkers off the road, but soon all that's left are the hard core drunks. Getting them off the road requires substantially more effort. In that context, absent some additional policy or social changes, we would have expected the decrease from the pre 0.08 period to be greater than the post 0.08 period. The fact that they're not suggests there was some social or policy change that had a real impact on alcohol related traffic fatalities.

  • Beezard||

    If that's the whole point then why don't we breathalyze anyone who leaves a bar and gets in the drivers seat? It can't be a question of rights.

    Also, the problem with any of these numbers and factoids is the simple great immeasurable: how much has
    changing cultural attitudes towards drunk driving lessened it's impact?

    The more the drinking culture starts thinking of drunk driving as a risky behavior (because they can hurt someone not because they could go to court) instead of a sport, the more those numbers will be (and already have been effected) regardless of policy.

  • Travis Ormsby||

    Proponents of the lowered BAC policy can point to that policy as a potential source of the greater than expected decline in alcohol related traffic fatalities per mile driven. Can you clearly establish that there has been an accelerated change in drinking culture's perception of drunk driving?

    But the main thrust of my original post is that Balko published something that is demonstrably untrue regarding how the government keeps track of drunk driving statistics (it considers drivers at 0.08 or above, not 0.01). That's a fairly minor point.

    The bigger deal is that the claim that drunk driving deaths were increasing was both poorly sourced and, at best, misleading. The appropriate metric is actually steadily declining, not increasing. Balko ought to provide some clarification there.

  • Beezard||

    Can you clearly establish that there has been an accelerated change in drinking culture's perception of drunk driving?

    No. And that's my problem with statistics uber alles.

    I can't prove how many crimes were thwarted by the mere fact that a criminal was afraid I might be armed either. But it's obviously an important factor in whether guns improve public safety.

    According to the law of the land in most places, ANYONE who has been drinking at a bar and gone home is guilty of DWI. Obviously fear of arrest doesn't keep all these people from doing it. This suggests to a decrease in fatalities is due to a more responsible drinker (or drinking establishment).

    Cato and Balko might be viewing the stats in their own favor. But my thrust is that reliance on stats to determine the value of public policies is over rated.

  • Apogee||

    Also, improvements to passenger car safety systems may factor into passenger fatalities, along with improved handling characteristics.

    Drunk and surviving or avoiding accidents altogether may affect the statistics in a way that has nothing to do with the presence of alcohol impairment.

  • Zizhiqu||

    Thank you Travis.

  • ||

    That's actually not true. "Alcohol-related" and "alcohol-impaired statistics" are 2 different things.

    The NHTSA until 2007 released "alcohol-related" reports. The totals would include any fatal crash where anyone (any driver, pedestrian, or cyclist) involved had a BAC of .01 or higher. As part of those statistics, if one looked at the detailed report, they could see how many were at .08 and above.

    Starting in 2007, the NHTSA came up with new terminology and started releasing a different report that used the term alcohol-impaired and counts those at .08 or above (http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/pubs/810985.pdf).

    But, interestingly, alcohol-impaired drivers at BACs from .08-.14 don't kill more people than distracted drivers:

    In 2008, 37,261 people died in traffic collisions (http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/pubs/811172.pdf). 5,870 were from driver distraction (http://www.distraction.gov/stats-and-facts/).

    Also, in 2008, 11,773 people died in alcohol-impaired traffic fatal accidents. Of those, 8,048 were by a driver with a BAC of .15 or higher (http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811155.PDF). Simple subtraction tells us that 3,725 of those killed in alcohol-impaired traffic fatal accidents involved a BAC of .08-.14.

    So, driver distraction caused 5,870 traffic deaths which is 16% of all traffic deaths. Drivers with a BAC of .08-.14 killed 3,725 people on the roads which was 10% of all traffic deaths that year. Distracted drivers killed 60% more people in 2008 than drunk drivers with a BAC of .08-.14.

    By contrast, those with a BAC of .15 or higher killed 8,048 people, or 22% of all traffic deaths that year.

    It should be further stated that the NHTSA admits that they estimate on many of the alcohol-impaired traffic deaths because the BAC levels are not known. On average, 60% of the deaths they say were alcohol-impaired actually had no BAC data, so it is estimated (http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/809-450.pdf). You see this asterisk in their data tables. It reads, "NHTSA estimates alcohol involvement when alcohol test results are unknown" (http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/States/StatesAlcohol.aspx).

  • ||

    As others have pointed out, the legal concept of "impaired" is too subjective. From a libertarian standpoint, objective standards such as an alcohol level are preferable. But the limit should be higher than 0.08 and punishment should be correlated with the blood alcohol level. Somebody who is 0.200 and driving, for instance, deserves much harsher sanctions than somebody at 0.100 or lower.

    As an emergency physician, I agree that the blood alcohol level is not the sole determinant of impairment, especially with professional drinkers (alcholics). But professional drinkers are among the most dangerous drivers - they are more likely to drive seriously impaired. They do some crazy shit - driving the wrong way for instance. If they are driving at a high blood alcohol level routinely, they should be taken off the road.

  • ||

    It would be perfectly safe to change the rule about stopping at a stop sign from "make a full stop and start again if there is no cross traffic" to "roll past the stop sign at 0.01 mph and accelerate if there is no cross traffic".

    But it's important to have a bright-line discriminant between legal and illegal activities that places dangerous behavior squarely in the illegal category. Even if it results in a small amount of harmless behavior being prohibited.

  • Apogee||

    But one of the reasons to place the behavior in the illegal category is the corresponding placement in the profitable category.

    And that has nothing to do with safety.

  • ||

    If you're talking on a cell phone or yelling at kids in the back seat, you can choose to stop doing this when you enter a more dangerous bit of driving (construction zone, ice and snow, congested road, school zone, etc). Also, you are keenly aware that you're not focusing on the road when partaking in these activities.

    When you're drunk or high, you can't will yourself sober when you perceive the need to focus more closely on your driving. Indeed, you may not even be aware of being impaired.

    So it makes sense to outlaw driving under conditions where your judgement is compromised for a duration of time whose length you cannot control.

  • ||

    you can choose to stop doing this when you enter a more dangerous bit of driving

    ....uhhh, unless you're too distracted to realize you've entered "a more dangerous bit of driving".

    Besides, you're assuming that people actually prioritize this shit correctly. Ever seen some asshole texting at 75 mph drift into the other lane, come *this* close to slamming into someone, veer wildly back into the original lane, and then keep texting? The ability to put the phone down is no more meaningful than the lack of an ability to think oneself sober.

  • waffles||

    I have definitely thought myself sober. I was so sober one Sunday morning that I chucked my volvo off the road, down an icy slope, bounced off a birch tree and landed on someone's front porch.

    Yeah I hadn't slept in 36 hours, but sure as shit was sober. The cop didn't even give me a ticket, just a ride home.

    God help me if I weren't sober.

  • jacob||

    When you're drunk or high, you can't will yourself sober

    You've never been high and needed to sober up. When you're high and you find yourself in a "fight-or-flight" type predicament, say when you encounter a cop, the buzz wears off lickely split and you're not high any more. It's one of the advantages of marijuana.

    I agree that you can't just sober up with you are drunk.

  • DesigNate||

    Rain can seriously impair a persons ability to see and react. You cannot choose to stop the rain. Therefore we should either outlaw the rain, or outlaw driving in the rain.

  • Travis Ormsby||

    Correction: There was also a small increase from 3.94 to 4.08 alcohol related fatalities per billion miles traveled from 2004 - 2005

  • Leroy||

    So why not make the criteria driving while impaired, have a standard field test designed to test for impairment? This test could be similiar to a field sobriety test, and video taped by the officer.

    It really is irrelevant what substance someone has in their body. The relevant question is whether or not they are fit to drive. A simple impairment test for reaction time, dexterity, and coordination would be fine. If an officer has a reasonable suspicion of impairment (weaving, speeding up and slowing down erratically, etc) they can pull you over and perform the test. Pass you're on your way, fail you're under arrest.

  • ||

    Distraction is not the same as chemical influence. If I see a hot chick with nice tits on the side of the road, I am distracted and I might drive poorly as a result. If I pull over and that chick decides to come for a ride, I am going to be distracted by the BJ she is giving me.

    They cant do a field test on me unless I am still getting a BJ, yet my distraction while driving is significant. If I am driving in a hazardously, the cops can pull me over and arrest me for hazardous driving, DUI or TWD or BJWD do not enter into the equation, because I was driving dangerously.

  • Jorj X. McKie||

    Never accept a BJ in a car. Even if you aren't moving. Watch The World According to Garp to see why.

  • ||

    If you really want to stop reckless behavior, you should just castrate all boys at age eight.

    That should take care of it.

  • ||

    It'll teach those speeding females a lesson too...vicariously, but it'll learn em good.

  • jacob||

    There was a SNL skit back in the 80's with Phil Hartman (I think) about this.

  • Beezard||

    Places already arrest people for being under 0.08% and it stands up in court all the time.

  • Beezard||

    And the breathalyzers are fidgety.

    Ive blown an impossible .06% ripped to the tits, while half of the people I've actually known who were nabbed for "drunk driving" were in the couple-of-drinks and-a-block-from-home range.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    Places already arrest people for being under 0.08% and it stands up in court all the time.


    Were they convicted?

  • ||

    I say this in all seriousness--we need AI that is adequate to safely driving cars. Then drunk riding will be awesome!

  • ||

    Don't be ridiculous. The real solution is for a police officer to ride with you in your car at all times.

  • ||

    You lack vision, my friend. An AI driver and a robot cop.

  • ||

    Not really a robot, of course, since the union wouldn't allow cop jobs to be displaced. Rather, it's a robot body with a human brain.

  • Jorj X. McKie||

    We call it... RoboNarc!

  • Zeb||

    MADD will think of some reason why that should be illegal too.

  • ||

    Probably because the AI needs a backup.

  • ||

    There was an article just a day or two ago about Google having this technology almost fully functional. Some Google cars drive themselves, although can be overridden by a human driver. Won't be surprised/sad if within 20 years human driving is a thing of the past.

  • ||

  • ||

    There's plenty of effort going into this--just look at the progress made in the DARPA Challenge--but it'll be a while before we can even begin to rely on automated drivers.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Yeah, I'm of two minds on this. In terms of increased production, it could be fantastic. Roads could serve far more traffic, more efficiently, and you could do something useful while riding. Car weights could be safely lowered without making the car less comfortable.

    On the other hand I know I would miss being in control of the vehicle, and driving can be a real pleasure sometimes.

  • ||

    You don't live in Dallas/LA/NYC obviously...Driving was fun when I was 16-18; at this point I just want to spend as little time in traffic jams as possible (or if I have to would rather be doing anything else but driving).

  • BoscoH||

    By the time you can point out the economic benefit of the actors because of a stupid law, it's too late. If the turd in the punchbowl is chilling the punch, it's an ice cube.

  • Zeb||

    I wouldn't have much of a problem with DUI laws if checkpoints were made illegal, the presumption of guilt at refusing a breath or blood test were removed and if they actually had to demonstrate that a driver was in fact impaired. As it is, DUI law seems to have turned into some sort of magical zone where the constitution does not apply.

  • jacob||

    the presumption of guilt at refusing a breath or blood test

    Not that I disagree with you, but this statement is wrong. You are not guilty if you refuse a breathalyzer. In fact, that's one of the loopholes to get out of DUI in the first place. The penalty for not blowing is not DUI (which is a felony), it's loss of license for a year. While the end effect may seem the same, trust me it's better to not blow if they've got you dead to rights. And yes, I've been in that situation before so I speak with firsthand knowledge.

  • ||

    "You are not guilty if you refuse a breathalyzer."

    You are in Canada, where "failure to provider a sample" = "impaired driving."

  • Beezard||

    For my money, the harshest penalties should only be reserved for those that DO something to someone else. (Hurt or Kill someone or destroy their property).

    All this focus on prevention (or in this case, pre-crime) may seem effective but it just leads to stupid illegal legislation like check points and open container laws.

  • Beezard||

    and a whole lotta moolah for the state and legal parasites.

  • Apogee||

    Bingo.

    Remove the money. No fines, just jail time.

  • Art "Crankshots" Acevedo||

    The problem: too many people are getting plea bargains because prosecutors and police are overloaded. The solution: expand the definition of crime so that they will have more cases to plead out. Brilliant.

  • Tony||

    More public transportation!

  • ||

    Private Transportation is pretty effective, actually. One tactic is to call yer girlfriend, wake her ass up, and make her come get you from the pub.

    IF that doesn't work, let your friend drive drunk and eat the DUI.

    If everyone is a pussy and doesn't want to risk it, then call a cab and split the fare.

    Public transportation very seldom accomidates everybody in the surrounding suburbs and outskirts.

  • Tony||

    That's why I'm for reducing the prevalence of suburbs.

  • ||

    So everybody should either live in MegaCities or on a farm? I see you're all about the options and choice man. Any other reason for wanting to "reduce the prevalence of suburbs"?

  • Tony||

    Cities are more efficient. Also, suburbs are ugly.

  • ||

    Suburbs keeps me safe from niggers.

  • Jorj X. McKie||

    Yowza.

  • wackystuff||

    A majority of accidents and collisions often involve entirely sober drivers. Shouldn't we outlaw sober driving as well?

  • Apogee||

    Outlaw everything. Then we'll finally be safe.

  • Jorj X. McKie||

    But then only the criminals will be criminals!

  • Michael Ejercito||

    How is drunk driving different from firing a machine gun in the direction of a crowd of people?

  • robc||

    It isnt different (maybe) at .2 bac.

    At .08? It isnt remotely similar.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    It doesn't involve a gun, for one.

  • ||

    It doesn't involve hundreds or even thousands of projectiles hurtling at incredible speed on a trajectory that cannot be changed by the person who fired the projectiles. Crowds of people are generally not what you find in the middle of most roads. The driver is actually attempting to get somewhere, whereas the person firing the machine gun is simply trying to kill people, (otherwise why is he doing it?).

    But all that said, the cops would stop the guy who is firing the gun into the crowd and they would stop the driver who is swerving all over the street.

  • sarcasmic||

    If you had read the entire piece instead of just the title you would know that the author supports stopping people from impaired driving, focusing on impairment instead of an arbitrary amount of alcohol in the blood.

    But you didn't read anything other than the title.

  • sarcasmic||

    True story - Back in my 20s I was riding a bicycle and hit by a car that ran a red light. Because I had had a couple drinks I was charged with OIU and had to fix the car that hit me. Witnesses who were trying to give me their info so I could use them for a defense were chased off by the cop who threatened to start handing out tickets for loitering. At the time I couldn't believe it because I was a good little liberal fresh out of public high school.
    It wasn't long before I discovered that most everything I was taught in government schools was a lie, and soon I decided to stop being taught and to instead begin to learn.

    I also developed a deep disrespect for the law and for those tasked with enforcing it.

    99% of cops give the good ones a bad name.

  • Edwin||

    so your solution to having been a liberal is to go full-retard in the oppositew direction? Denying the reality of the dangers of drunk driving and driving too fast? Hate to break it to you, but you're still retarded. Just because you went the other way around philosophically doesn't stop you from being a retard.

    You'll be sensiblke and worth listening to when you start being reasonable and stop denying reality.

  • DesigNate||

    Please enlighten us with what reality is, oh great and powerful Edwin.

  • Edwin||

    that guy said that a drunk guys speeding poses no extra danger compared to a sober person going normally - that sure as hell ain't reality

  • BillC||

    "99% of cops give the good ones a bad name."

    I'd say it's closer to 60/40

  • sarcasmic||

    I've never met that 1% I joked about.

    In my experience people who seek out a job where they carry a club and a gun do so because they look forward to using the tools of the trade.

    I hear talk of cops who take pride in never used deadly force.
    I've never met one.

    Without exception every cop I've met was a childhood bully in an adult body who takes great pleasure in dealing out pain, suffering, and even death.

  • Edwin||

    Yo haven't met a lot of cops, so you're just talking out of your ass.

    And they're still better than you, who can fool himself into denying basic realities just in the name of some stupid philosophy.

  • G Mc||

    Threshold tests are, like deadlines, at once completely arbitrary, and completely necessary to administrative function.

  • G Mc||

    And, of course, in this case, BAC threshold levels are not completely arbitrary.

  • ||

    Sleep apnea and micro-sleeping are the worst.

  • ||

    I usually have about 3 -4 drinks, and then drive home. I've never been arrested or pulled over for it. Why? Because I don't speed or fuck up while I'm driving. Most people that get DUI's are just bad drivers anyway.

    My only arguement against Drunk Driving laws would be to abolish sobriety check points. They're gay as shit.

  • ||

    I agree with the checkpoints. I just go around them anyway by taking all the back roads home. I call this deer hunting.

  • ||

    My only problems with the checkpoints is that they're largely a waste of motorist time, and taxpayer money.

    The reality of the situation is simple:

    (1) If you're driving drunk, and are not creating any problems (unsafe speed, improper turns, failing to signal lane changes, etc), then you shouldn't be pulled over... and are probably not going to be.

    (2) If you're drunk and you're a dumb cunt that thinks it's cool to fuck around on the road, then you'll probably be detained and arrested for DUI. Not my problem.

    Listen to song "Drinking and Driving" by The Business . Explains everything.

  • ||

    I agree with this, however I would add that testing people for intoxication is arbitrary because you cannot test people for texting. The tests are unnecessary if the purpose of the law is to stop reckless drivers.

    Its like hate crimes. Killing people is illegal, that means killing gay people is just as wrong as killing straight people under the law. Dont arrest a person because they killed a gay person, arrest them for killing period.

  • ||

    I am talking about tests done AFTER the driver is pulled over for reckless driving in some manner or another.

  • ||

    Good points.

  • jacob||

    Killing someone without premeditation and killing someone while planning it out is the exact same thing. But for some silly reason, a person who kills after planning out a murder gets a higher penalty. The victim is no more or less dead, but the penalty is different.

    It's sort of the same thing with hate crimes....

  • ||

    "Hate Crimes" means you just had a motive to commit a crime. Hate Crime and Jealous Boyfriend Rampage Crime are the same thing only because it involves intent. Accidentally killing someone is different becaue there is no motive, it was just, an accident.

  • jacob||

    Your argument doesn't address my point.

    Homicide that was planned out and homicide that was not pre-planned ("crimes of passion") are sentenced differently.

    Just because you kill someone and didn't plan it out doesn't mean it was an accident.

  • ||

    and someone making a snide comment assuming I'm a leftist/liberal in 3... 2... 1...

    Fuckin' Pinko. haha, haven't heard that one in a while.... But seriously dude, nobody likes you, stop trying to impose your nambi pambi liberal bullshit on me before I beat my balls against yer chin.

  • ||

    And someone making snide "teabagger" comment based on head/nutsack contact desire in 3...2...1...

  • Edwin||

    Understanding that drunk driving laws makes sense is solely a liberal trait? Jesus Christ kid, you're detached

  • ||

    Hippie bastard. Try drinking... It'll loosen up the sand in yer pussy.

  • ||

    No, it has nothing to do with liberals. Conservative republicans and liberal democrats are both equally retarded in this regard.

  • Edwin||

    It's retarded to understand that drunk driving is highly dangerous to both the driver and the public?

    Are you listening to yourself?

  • ||

    Its retarded because the laws do nothing but promote idiotic BAC tests and random checkpoints to stop "drunk" drivers.

    Checkpoints do nothing at all to curb drunk driving, but if you read the article you would know that. Random checkpoints are also questionable in that it forces innocent people to bear the burden of the check point so this becomes a matter of civil liberties. Of course Republicans and Democrats will say that it is okay to infringe on liberty to stop drunk drivers, but they aren't really even doing that. If cops are going to do anything useful at all in terms of stopping drunk drivers, they mind as well get out on the roads and look for reckless or dangerous drivers. If they find a person who is swerving and driving erratically, then it doesn't matter if he is drunk, texting, getting a hummer, wearing a blindfold, cooking fajitas, or completing a crossword puzzle, he is driving recklessly and will be punished accordingly.

    BAC and field sobriety tests only test for ALCOHOL and they dont do it very well. If you are so worried about drunk drivers, then you should be EQUALLY concerned with all other distracted or impaired drivers. If you are going to deal with this hazard, you cant simply pass a law against every conceivable thing that could cause an accident and half the time you cant even prove these things were happening or were an impairment to the driver. You can however be reasonably certain that someone who is driving dangerously is a danger to others and himself, so pulling people over for this is the only real way to prevent accidents and discourage ALL forms of distraction and impairment. With modern video technology, it shouldn't be too difficult for a cop with a dash cam to log reasonable evidence of reckless driving.

    The current laws are skewed towards drunkenness and therefore skew away from other issues. Drunk driving laws are the public hazard because our limited resources are being applied to breathalyzers, field sobriety tests, checkpoints and cops having to spend all sorts of time in court testifying in drunk driving cases because the evidence is so fucking shoddy.

  • ||

    "It shouldn't matter if it's caused by alcohol, sleep deprivation, prescription medication, text messaging, or road rage."
    Add to that list old drivers.

  • ||

    And people who like to look smart while they try to solve the NYT crossword on the way to work.

  • ||

    and Chinese

  • ||

    LOL, it was only a matter of time... but ...

    And women.

  • ||

    I'm tellin' ya, the worst thing is driving while you're tired. I live in MD, I used to drive to MA every other thursday to visit my girl who went to school up there. I would work 10-14 hours (nightshift), then drive 8 hours to meet up with her. I fell asleep a couple times behind the wheel and ran off the road once. Fortunately it was so early in the morning there weren't many other drivers out yet.

  • ||

    I had this debate before about the drinking and driving laws. It's embarrassing to me that a grown man can't stop by a local pub, drink a sixer, then drive home. But like I told my brother, for every guy that can get drunk and make it home safe... there's some stupid bitch that can't and ends up flipping her car, then doesn't think she did anything wrong 'cuz people let her drive drunk.

    The smartest thing you can do, if you're seriously stuck in a situation where driving home is worth the risk... wait 'til 4 or 5am. Sleep in the car for a little while if you have to. 2am-3am is when they're watching for the shit. At least around here.

  • ||

    Like I said, if you're being cool and followin' the rules of the road you should be good to go. If you're absolutely shitfaced and can barely walk... just pass out in the car. If the cops are following their SOP, they won't pull you over unless you give them a reason.

  • jacob||

    Sleeping in the car while intoxicated is illegal. I had a friend who did the same thing and got arrested for DUI. I agree that after 3 am most police are not patrolling anymore. I also agree that it's not a big deal to drink 4 or 5 then drive (after a couple of hours). However, I think you and I are in the silent majority.

  • Jorj X. McKie||

    You must be the first person ever to describe Drunk Punk as being "silent".

  • ||

    Did he leave the car running?

  • jacob||

    No, but the argument was that the keys were in the car with him.

  • ||

    What city and state was he in? I'll check into it.

  • ||

    That's the way it works in Canada.
    Just having the keys in your possession while sitting drunk in the car qualifies the driver for being charged.

  • ||

    Sounds like we need to be more like Canada. I'd say, if someone has a beer bottle in one hand, and a set of keys in the other... even if they're not even drunk yet, they should be jailed for life for potentially taking away someone else's life.

  • Brian R||

    Works that way in Minnesota too, even if you're in the back seat of the car.

  • jacob||

    Methinks it works that way in every jurisdiction

  • jacob||

    Dayton, Ohio

  • ||

    This makes perfect sense, you never know what those keys are doing while you are asleep.

  • ||

    Crime prevention is the root of all fascism

  • ||

    Last time I called the local pigs to attend to a matter where physical violence was the issue, the broad who got her job thanks to gender quota requirements - I mean, let's face it - started lecturing me about my out-of-state license plate.
    Fkn pigs are just gun-toting tax collectors.
    Douchebags. Every. Last. One of them.

  • NotPartyAffiliated||

    A few words to the courageous author of this article: Misuse of statistics.

  • ||

    Radley your right on. But the stupid politicians don't listen to common sense. Previous dui convictions show this, whereas somebody is arrested in a parked car, riding a horse, in a boat with a trolling motor, ect. You can't fix stupid.

  • Politically Incorrect in Dalla||

    I completely agree we should stop drivers driving bad now instead of focusing on drivers who might potentially drive bad sometime. I asked about this in Dallas, and was told police/prosecutors prefer to do substance stops because it's concrete evidence in court (test results) instead of he said/she said about whether a person was using their blinker. I don't care. It's wrong, and blaming every accident on alcohol is wrong when 95% of overall accidents are caused by other reasons, simply driving bad, and we have "wreckless driving" laws for that. If it's illegal to stop and ask for paper to check for illegal aliens, it is surely unconstitutional to drunk test someone stopped for no reason.

  • ||

    If you don't like drunk driving, stay home and cry in a corner. Nobody is forcing you to drive.

    This is our culture: We're shitty drivers. We work a lot, eat in the car, talk on our cell phones, get drunk and drive, and don't pay attention to anybody elses' problems. That is who we are. Deal with it. We punish the people who are simply living by default in their own self-destructive, bullshit, house of cards life?

    Oh yeah, blame the victims, that's really good. ASsholes.

  • ||

    Let me just say one more thing about Safety and Health. It's anti-human to dwell on this shit.

    This is where fascism is coming from today...If you want to make it a law, just say "Unsafe!", or "Unhealthy!"

    It's like these people that wrap their house in duct tape 'cos of terrorist attacks, or are still afraid of white vans 'cos of the DC sniper.

    Stop being pussies!!! If someone has made you afraid, then they have control of you.

    Anxiety is almost always worse than the drop, dude.

    I'd rather be hospitalized by a drunk driver than to see another law passed because of the bullshit lecturing rhetoric or some self-righteous MADD mother.

  • ||

    All I can think of is all these kids I see riding their bikes with helmets. I found out that they have to wear a helmet. Hmm. When i was a kid, we werent required to wear a helmet. Yes, we did some stupid stunts, but because we did not have a helmet, we were keenly aware of our limits and avoided really stupid risks. This is not to say we didn't take risks, but risk is life. Jumps were fun, ghost riding was fun, stunts were fun, but when someone came up with the idea of jumping the sand pit, the rocks below were an obvious risk and none of us attempted the stunt.

    I am not saying kids shouldn't wear helmets, but why does the state need to tell them to wear a helmet?

    Ok, I'm gonna wrap myself in bubble wrap and masturbate to speed metal now. Wish me luck.

  • JRCrews||

    I agree with your stance on helmets. When I was 10 years old, I didn't wear a helmet nor gloves when riding my bike. About the only two injuries I had were scratched up hands and bloody knees. I never had a head injury due to a bicycle accident. It has to do with reflexes and personal responsibility.

  • Anonymous||

    Excellent article! I have come to realize many of your points on my own and it's wonderful to hear an echo.

    The closest I have ever gotten to hitting another car was when I was sober and exhausted. Where's the special mandatory felony charge for evil night owls like me?

    Also, why was it that I was able to get pulled over drunk and high and under 21, lie to a cop about if I had been drinking, and then get through the sobriety tests with just a stop sign ticket? Because I wasn't so fucked up that the guy pulled his breathalyzer on me. He was fair and I performed. And as a side note, I wasn't driving dangerously. The town had gotten new squad cars and I didn't realize I needed to not roll through a stop sign in the DEAD of night at 3 mph.

    B.A.C. does NOT = impairment, nor does it = an automatic significant risk. A complex combination of factors that varies from person to person may. I doubt even a brain scan could tell you for sure who's impaired and who isn't. As for cops performing highway-side blood-letting, let's just say "creepy" is now officially well-defined.

    Zero tolerance = zero intelligence.

  • blogsniper||

    Even so, you could still be arrested for public intoxication, such as CA Penal code 647f, a safety hazard to yourself and others. That would still get you more than the idiot who was switching tracks on his Air Supply 8-track tape.

  • ||

    Missouri's DWI law doesn't mention a "magic number". We focus on the intoxicated or drugged behavior of the individual in order to reach a probable cause arrest decision. Sadly the prosecutors are hung up on a magic number (though the law does not require it). We also have an illegal per se statute which does mention a number (0.080 as with all other US States). I agree that impairment should be the issue. Good article.

  • ||

    Great. How do we measure "impairment" exactly. The word of a cop? How impaired is too impaired to drive? We don't need laws that are arbitrarily enforced at the whim of police.

    For the flaws in BAC, it is, at least, a number that can be measured within some margin of error.

    Next, let's get rid of the speed limits because that's an arbitrary number too.

  • rhhardin||

    Sociologist Joseph R Gusfield has a series of books out on seizing political power through "public problems" by discovering them and then taking ownership of them, starting with "The Culture of Public Problems: Drinking-Driving and the Symbolic Order."

    Like Goffman, he's a decent writer too.

    It used to be that drunk driving was a personal moral failing, not a public problem.

    The possibility is today hard to imagine; but life went on very nicely without the conversion.

    Child sexual abuse didn't exist before the 70s; and child abuse (bruises and the like) before the 60s, as public problems.

    A lot of hysteria came with those conversions.

  • ||

    It used to be that regular people didn't own cars, and rich people had drivers. Maryjo Kopechne would disagree about drunk driving only being a personal failing in 1969.

  • ||

    all well and good, except what is the objective standard and test for "driving while impaired" that doesn't give a HUGE amount of discretion to the police, prosecutors and courts? Discretion that you just know will be subject to abuse.

    Absent such a standard and test, this opens a can of worms that is best left closed and on the shelf.

  • ||

    What ever happened to common sense? Having a glass or two of wine with dinner and then driving home should not be a crime if it does not cause you to drive recklessly.

    Why aren't individuals with THREE DWI offenses under the present laws taken OFF THE ROAD for several years.

  • ||

    I'm with Marty. The one benefit of having a standard is that it poses an objective test that can be used, even though it's poor. The alternative is handing over everything to police officers' completely subjective analysis, and while I think for a lot of cops that'd be just fine there are always a few bad apples. (With modern technology there might be a solution, in that always having the sobriety check in front of a dash cam would be a way to prove to a judge or jury that the stop was warranted.) Until we come up with a better option, we should improve the way the standard is measured. If a breathalyzer manufacturer refuses to release technical specs needed for defense, rule that brand's data inadmissible and watch the company crumble. If a person has a ratio of alcohol output in their lungs that throws off the breathalyzer and makes it read too high, let them attach that info to their license so the police can calibrate the machine. Whether we improve the standard or throw it out, we need to have a good plan.

    However I still take issue with the people who are so concerned about Nannyism running amuck that they completely downplay the significance of something like texting while driving. I've seen these people on the roads--there's good reason to ban them. No it's not easy to enforce, and there may be the rare person who can do this safely, but for pure stupidity and danger it's hard to top.

  • ||

    So it would be up to the cop's judgment whether I was impaired or not? Hmm. I might opt for the blood test, at least it isn't biased in the way a cop might be. Doing this would certainly *not* reduce arrests for reckless or impaired driving, it would just make enforcement and the legal process more nebulous. How is a judge or jury supposed to evaluate a cop's judgment after the fact?

    A breathalyzer or blood test at least provides some sort of definitive baseline as imperfect as they may be. To be honest, the .08 level is a deterrent. I know if I have more than a couple I should not be on the road because I know I will be over, whether I think I am impaired or not.

    Another case of a Libertarian not thinking past stage one. Tut tut.

  • ||

    You are so "right on". I've been told by a number of physicians that I have a very uncommon tolerance of pain. I have asserted to them that there has to be a correlation to my body's ability (or lack of ability) to be put to sleep for an operation. Starting at the age of 10 for a tonsilectomy (sp?) I couldn't be put to sleep with sodium pentathol and I heard the doctor's saying (on ether) "if this kid's not asleep in 5 seconds we're going to have to stop". I closed my eyes but was awake throughout the operation. the surgeries I've had since (stapedechetomys and colonoscopys) have had a similar outcome. Since my body (liver enzymes) has that type of response it's not possible that alchohol has the kind of impact on me that it has others. To place a "once size fits all" on all people relative to alchohol consumption is riduculous -- you make excellent statements!

  • ||

    "I might opt for the blood test, at least it isn't biased in the way a cop might be. Doing this would certainly *not* reduce arrests for reckless or impaired driving, it would just make enforcement and the legal process more nebulous."

    First, I am not sure the word nebulous fits in with the argument you are making here. If you are saying that blood tests would help to support legal enforcement by providing additional supporting evidence, then "nebulous" is suggesting the opposite of this assertion.

    Assuming you think that road side blood tests are a helpful law enforcement tool...

    So having cops spending all sorts of time administering blood tests on the side of the road wont limit their capacity to be on the lookout for reckless drivers? How long do you think this test takes and how many cops do you think we have that we can waste all of this time just for the sake of proving that somebody had more than three beers? If this driver was pulled over because they were swerving all over the road, or speeding, wouldn't it be more efficient to simply punish them for reckless driving, especially if the punishment was at least as harsh as the drunk driving punishment? Also, wouldn't video evidence of reckless driving be enough evidence? Why do we need to prove someone is drunk in order to prove they were driving recklessly? Also, proving someone has been drinking does not actually prove they were driving recklessly or that they were even impaired to the point of being dangerous. If someone is driving dangerously, which is marked by swerving, speeding and other such indicators, then it really doesn't matter if they are impaired or not, they should be stopped and tried for reckless driving. The evidence is on the video. I think that reasonable people can tell the difference between safe driving and unsafe driving when they see it in a video. Leave it up to a jury and they will decide.

    Also, drunkeness is but one impairment. Like the article pointed out, other impairments are just as bad, but it is not so easy to test for texting while driving. Should we bias our enforcement towards just one form of dangerous driving? If there are two drivers on the road in the middle of the night and they are both swerving, one because they were texting and the other because they are drunk, is it reasonable to hold one more accountable than the other simply because you cannot prove they were texting? What about if you are driving safely and you get pulled over because of a broken tail light and the cop thinks he smells booze and so you take a breathalyzer and fail do you think this is the same service to public safety as pulling over a person who is actually driving recklessly? Could this time be used more effectively to spot drivers who are already a threat to public safety? Would it matter that any number of other impairments would be ignored by the cop that pulled you over simply because they do not have a way to prove them or even be aware of them?

    If you want to stop drunk driving, you do not need to find out if people are drunk. Be more aggressive about spotting reckless driving. Make the penalties stronger for reckless driving. Look, I am not a fan of leaving it up to a cop to decide if I am driving recklessly, but if there is reasonable video evidence that a jury would recognize as reckless driving, then we can limit the possibility of an over zealous cop making an arbitrary decision. This is actually an argument FOR more aggressive reckless driving laws and enforcement. Having to prove drunkenness to punish a reckless driver effectively is not particularly effective at reducing all of the other causes of reckless driving. With that in mind, it is totally unreasonable to expect or create a law for every conceivable cause of reckless driving, but most people know why they are driving recklessly and so if there is a deterrent against reckless driving, most people will try to avoid these things that may cause them to drive recklessly.

  • Sandy||

    Legalize Drunk Driving--Because other bad shit is legal (sarcasm)

  • ||

    Punish all reckless driving regardless of cause the same as drunk driving and spend more time looking for reckless drivers than attempting to prove someone is drunk. Or, Aggressively prosecute all forms of distracted or impaired driving by aggressively prosecuting reckless driving.

  • I M Patroling||

    Chief Acevedo has brought up a valid point by saying there is no punitive section available to his officers for driving "impaired". We have all encountered "light weight" drinkers who are impaired by just one drink. Basic DUI wet labs have taught us that alcohol in the human body effects our higher brain functions, causing our inhibitions to decrease. We have all been brought up with the term "liquid courage" to describe the effect a "shot" of wiskey has on our system which gives us "courage" to ask that girl for a dance, etc. Here is something we need to ask ourselves: Mercedes Benz has been advertising their "smart" cars can detect objects in the road and control the vehicle accordingly. So, does this make the owners of these vehicles more liable for causing a collision while their impaired?

  • mee||

    if your getting pulled over chances are you were reckless driving first, then they gave you a breathalizer to see if thats the reason. If your drinking wasnt impairing your driving what was? do you expect people to think it was just a coincidence. plus the law needs to be strict because the consequences of the actions of a drunk driver are so serious

  • mee||

    if your getting pulled over chances are you were reckless driving first, then they gave you a breathalizer to see if thats the reason. If your drinking wasnt impairing your driving what was? do you expect people to think it was just a coincidence. plus the law needs to be strict because the consequences of the actions of a drunk driver are so serious

  • ||

    people are just assholes on the road they go out of their way to pass you up so they can stop at the light first iagree with judgeing perfomance that would put a lot people off the road get rid of the assholes

  • ||

    people are just assholes on the road they go out of their way to pass you up so they can stop at the light first iagree with judgeing perfomance that would put a lot people off the road get rid of the assholes

  • ||

    people are just assholes on the road they go out of their way to pass you up so they can stop at the light first iagree with judgeing perfomance that would put a lot people off the road get rid of the assholes

  • ||

    people are just assholes on the road they go out of their way to pass you up so they can stop at the light first iagree with judgeing perfomance that would put a lot people off the road get rid of the assholes

  • ||

    people are just assholes on the road they go out of their way to pass you up so they can stop at the light first iagree with judgeing perfomance that would put a lot people off the road get rid of the assholes

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  • BambiB||

    I've long said that they should replace the current BAC standard with a reaction speed standard. We know that some people can be blasted after 1 or 2 drinks, while others can down a six-pack and be just fine. A large part of the difference is what you're used to. Non-drinkers can be heavily affected by a single drink. A guy who drinks a six-pack every day probably wouldn't be fazed by a half dozen drinks.

    This could also address the issue of stoned driving - or even completely sober driving by elderly drivers who have decayed to the point of driving incompetence.

    Measuring reaction speed is simple. A testing box could be mass-manufactured for less than $20 each. It could consist of a small box with 5 less and five switches. When an LED flashes, the person being tested hits the corresponding button. A small microprocessor records the time between the LED coming on and the button being pressed. One could have multiple attempts, and the median time could be recorded and displayed. Reactions that take longer than a prescribed level would count as "impairment" - whether from alcohol, drugs or old age.

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