Abolish Drunk Driving Laws

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

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo wants to create a new criminal offense: “driving while ability impaired.” The problem with the current Texas law prohibiting “driving while intoxicated” (DWI), Acevedo explained to the Austin-American Statesman in October, is that it doesn’t allow him to arrest a driver whose blood-alcohol content (BAC) is below 0.08 percent unless there’s additional evidence of impairment.

“People sometimes focus on how many drinks they can have before they’ll go to jail,” Acevedo explains. “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, likes his idea.

Acevedo and Whitmire are right, though probably not in the way they intended. People do react to alcohol differently. For many people one drink may well be too many. Experienced drinkers, by contrast, can function relatively normally with a BAC at or above the legal threshold. 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’s objections to the legal definition of intoxication highlight the absurdity of drawing an arbitrary, breathalyzer-based line between sobriety and criminal intoxication. But the right solution 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. Two-thirds of such accidents involved drivers with BACs of 0.14 or higher. (The federal government classifies a fatal accident as “alcohol-related” if it involved a driver, a biker, or a pedestrian who had consumed alcohol, 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, 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 sobriety checkpoint 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.

These constitutionally dubious 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 fines for minor infractions but few drunk drivers. In 2009, according to a story at the investigative journalism site California Watch and data from 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 nightly checkpoint would divert 20 or more cops from other tasks while yielding a dozen or more vehicle confiscations but only about three drunk driving arrests.

In addition to the Fourth Amendment issues raised by roadblocks, 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. 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—a significant factor in a case where the difference between 0.80 and 0.79 for a first offense can mean $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 alarming power: They now allow 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, such as a 2005 paper in the British Medical Journal, 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.

If our ultimate goals are to reduce driver impairment and maximize highway safety, we should be punishing reckless driving more consistently. 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 behavior, where it belongs. 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.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    MADD is a modern temperance movement, that is sure.

  • CatoTheElder||

    It's the WCTU version 2.1.

  • JB||

    When are they going to go after those over 65?

    As a group, they are likely more impaired than your average 25 year old at .08

  • anarch||

    What happened to Friday Funnies?

  • Almanian ||

    Almanian|7.30.10 @ 9:52AM|#
    It is a day etched firmly in the memories of Reasonoids - The Day They Stopped Posting Friday Funnies. As with the Kennedy assassination, everyone we spoke with remembers where they were and what they were doing that morning.

    "I was overcome with conflicting emotions...joy and happiness...at no longer having to experience the pain of Friday Funnies that weren't, and forcing myself to say HAHAHAHAHAHA when I really didn't mean it", said sage.

    Warty reflected, "Bok and Payne - rot rest in hell, you autofelching humor vaccuums, have fun sucking troll balls with Steve Smith."

    Suki offered that, "Friday Funnies were never the first thing posted - their lack of utility in allowing me to wish my colleagues at Reason 'Good Morning' contributes to my satisfaction with their demise. Plus, they weren't funny."

    The Gobbler offered succinctly, "Good bye, Shit Facktery!"

    July 30, 2010 - a treasured day in history, the day the humor was given its freedom.

    RIP Friday Funnies.

  • ||

    Now this is grade A funny. Bravo.

  • Well||

    Well, the advocacy of anarchy is pretty funny.

  • ||

    Beat that dead horse, dude! Beat it!

  • James||

    Well, he is right and you are wrong.

  • ||

    Thanks, James; I'll be sure to give your opinion the attention it deserves.

  • Kenneth Pinyan ||

    Epi, You'd beat a dead horse? Ewwe, I wouldn't even do that!

  • Well||

    You don't want to know what he did with it afterward. Then again, maybe you do.

  • prolefeed||

    Well, he'd beat off a dead horse. But he does Sick Fuck amazingly well, so no need to judge.

  • Well||

    That's not acting.

  • Chu-hua Zhu||

    Almost as funny as the idea of responsible, sane government.

  • ||

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    Ahh, memories.

  • ||

    How dare you let logic get in the way of law enforcement.

  • ||

    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.

    But we must prevent all harm; to anyone, anywhere. We can; we should; we must!

    Otherwise, we'll be just like... you know....

    SOMALIA!!111!11

  • Almanian ||

    But they have no roads in Teh Somalia™, so no one can get in a traffic accident. Right?

    /starving children

  • Ron||

    or like Mexico no one is killed by guns there because guns are illegal in Mexico.

  • ph||

    driving drunk under the current DUI/DWI regimes in most states is good practice for retaining one's humanity in the inevitable TOTAL STATE.

  • ||

    the very term shows a fundamental misunderstanding - "drunk driving". in no state i have worked in law enforcement is there a law against drunk driving. the standard is "impaired".

    is there an arbitrary threshold? of course. just like statutory rape, for example.

    otoh, driving, unlike sex, is a privilege, not a right - when it comes to public roadways.

    the advantage to bright line rules like .08 is that it eliminates much of the possibility of corruption, bias, and subjectivity in enforcement.

    it's a bright line standard, applied to all. race, gender, class etc. don't apply.

    that's kind of refreshing.

    again, since driving is a privilege NOT a right (contrast with gun carry/ownership or speech), there's no injustice in my view, of setting a BAC standard for prima facie illegality.

  • hmm||

    He'ssssss backkkkkk...

  • ||

    i never left. it's just that unlike you, i don't comment on stuff if i don't have something intelligent to say.

    hth

  • hmm||

    No wonder you're so quite. Sadly your self imposed posting restrictions don't stop you. You continue with your gratuitous use of the phrase bright line, and random legal latin you picked up in your 6 weeks of cop school and subsequent required refresher courses. Oddly you agree with arbitrary standards. I'm sure there's an issue with the training budget as well. Maybe we can get some more federal money to the states to enforce arbitrary bright line standards for the public safety, or at least the illusion of public safety.

    Heck you even make week semantic arguments with your assertion that there are no drunk driving laws, but they are all impaired driving laws based on a level of drunkenness as determined by BAC.

  • ||

    Actually, I got my "random legal latin" from my latin teacher in High Schoo, but keep at it makin' a fool of yourself with unsubstantiated rubbish.

    Arbitrary standards when it comes to PRIVILEGES like driving are preferable to subjective standards, and that's the only other option. It's similar to age of consent laws.

    BAC does not determine 'drunkenness". Not surprising you are uninformed on the law. In my state, it is illegal to drive with a .08. It does not establish that .08 is "drunk". It is the level where one is PRESUMED impaired, but that's a rebuttable presumption in court.

    What is not rebuttable is that driving w/a .08 is a crime in and of itself (in all jurisdictions I have worked in) whether or not one proves impairment.

    It is arguable from a policy perspective as to whether .08 should be the "limit". However, there is no right to drive with a .08 and such a limit is constitutionally valid, just like a speed limit.

    Which is also arbitrary. It's undeniable that some people can be safer at 15 over the speed limit than others, or that some people are "unsafe at any speed" (with props to Nader) however, that doesn't invalidate the legality of arbitrary speed limits.

    Again, bright line limits like this are preferable - no racist, classist, sexist bias. And no subjectivity in the standard.

    yah!

  • ||

    Arbitrary speed limits are illegal. If the judges follow the law. Look up 23 CFR. If you can show me a state or locality that hasn't taken Federal highway funds, then you might have a case for an arbitrary speed limit in that jurisdiction.

  • hmm||

    Bright line limits are used because prosecutors don't want to have to entrust officers with fucking up their case. It's a clear case of make it simple for the stupids. Most of the training officers first receive is designed solely to get the case to trial with the best chance of winning. Trained fucking monkeys.

  • hmm||

    I did miss your statist comments so.

  • ||

    ""It is the level where one is PRESUMED impaired""

    My bad, I should have read your next post first. So admit it's not about the actual impairedness of the driver, but a presumed impairedness based of a standard.

  • ||

    You seem enamored by the so called 'bright line rules' and the .08 standard. yet you fail to address how to assess that so called standard.

    Should breathalyzers be the gold standard? Well those devices do not detect alcohol. No, they detect a class of chemicals, a number of which can easily lead to a false positive. In addition, as Radley pointed out, most manufacturers of these devices refuse to release the proprietary source code that would show how the device works. You see a breathalyzer is by no means an extremely accurate way to determine a persons BAC. The devices estimate it on a formula that extrapolates an essentially arbitrary BAC number based on how much is detected in a persons breath. And here we run into a very big problem. Not everyone's breath, and the alcohol detected in it, correlates to their actual BAC in the same way. Not all devices use the same formula and sampling method to determine BAC. A breathalyzer is only as good as the engineers and programmers behind its development. Yet this is the current, unquestioned, go to method for determining someone's BAC?

    And the greatest travesty of all? Judges and prosecutors know of all these problems inherent in the devices. Yet in most states, not only will they not let a defendant use these fact as a defense, they will not even allow any mention of problems, acting as if they do not exist. And why? Because without their 'bright line' BAC, proving a driver was drunk becomes much harder. They also know that any reasonably intelligent jury will realize that the breathalyzers use to obtain their most sacred piece of evidence are essentially crap. So while there may be no in-justice in setting a BAC, the primary method used for determining that is overflowing with injustice.

    So people, learn the laws in your state and NEVER submit to a breathalyzer. The actual penalty for not taking it is often only marginally bigger. For example in The People's Republic of Maryland, where i live, the difference between being charged with a DUI and taking the test and not taking it is an additional 30 day suspension of the license. An 95% of offenders end up getting a provisional paper license for the purpose of getting to work etc. You see, they still need the DUI offenders tax dollars.

  • ||

    ""the advantage to bright line rules like .08 is that it eliminates much of the possibility of corruption, bias, and subjectivity in enforcement.""

    That's just funny. We see corruption, bias and subjectivity with that bright line. Of course, it's mostly letting your fellow cop or important person off the hook.

    But no one here will fall for the notion that a standard can in fact be such when people do not get impaired equally.

    If you want to defend the standard, fine. I can respect that, but don't try to BS that it's about impairment. It's about a standard created and enforced.

  • ||

    otoh, driving, unlike sex, is a privilege, not a right

    You have to be careful with this kind of talk. Next thing you know, Obama is going to insist nerds, ugly/fat women, and people with terrible acne are being denied the comfort of sexual relations. Actually, there's a solution for that as well, but statists like you have outlawed prostitution also.

  • ||

    Great article, and points out how arbitrary and meaningless the .08 BAC limit is. The cop quoted is correct in that some people are too impaired to drive even at .05. He should acknowledge the other side of that fact--that some people (esp. heavy drinkers/alcoholics) are OK to drive at .08 or even higher.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Pablo...
    Sorry, but the research does not bear that out. The research shows measurable driving impairment at around 0.05, but at that level most people have no subjective feeling of having had alcohol. The 0.08 level is the one at which most people can tell they've been drinking (a light buzz). At that level of impairment, you should know better than to drive (cuz you can feel the alcohol).

    The 0.08 level is not really arbitrary in the strict sense of that word.

  • Neu Mejican||

    A follow up to this. When you say an "alcoholic" is less impaired by a specific BAC, you may be correct-ish. The deflection from baseline is likely to be greater in infrequent drinkers than in frequent drinkers. However, if you are actually talking about people who regularly abuse alcohol, their baseline motor-coordination and ability efficiently react to unexpected stimuli is measurably lower than non-drinking peers. A truly heavy drinker may have done enough damage to cerebellar systems to produce difficulty with simple motor tasks (even walking... you recognize the "drunk's gate" when you see it).

    But just looking at the numbers, those who drink to excess frequently are more likely, it seems, to be behind the wheel at a time when they have passed their personal limit than those who drink less frequently. Just in terms of prevention, the 0.08 limit is more likely to catch their pattern of dangerous behavior and reduce the relatively greater harm the pose to society.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Further follow up:
    This study- Psychology of Addictive Behaviors;Volume 23, Issue 2, June 2009, Pages 238-247

    Seems to indicate that frequent drinkers, actually, have a slower recovery time for the subjective feeling of being "drunk" than binge drinkers...

    Measurable impairment doesn't seem to differ, but willingness to drive because the person feels like s/he has "sobered up" may differ between those that would avoid driving if they thought they were drunk.

  • El Duderino||

    MADD should team up with the Pentagon and various auto makers to speed the development of cars that drive themselves. This is the best way to prevent accidents caused by impairment.

  • cynical||

    But how would that help them in quest to bring back Prohibition?

  • El Duderino||

    Indeed.

  • Doc Merlin||

    and you hit the nail as to why they won't support self driving cars.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Oh, they won't come out against self driving cars. They'll just work hard to make sure that it's illegal to be in one if you've had anything at all to drink.

  • ||

    No one ever examines the costs of enforcing such strict prohibitions on what was and continues to be fairly standard behavior. Membership and participation in fraternal and social organizations is way down from decades ago - I can't help but conclude that there is some relationship to DUI laws. Have bars and restaurants lost revenue because of DUI laws, with resultant loss of well-paying, low-skilled jobs in waitressing, bartending, and hosting? Is there a societal cost to imposing a severe penalty, randomly applied, to common adult social behavior? Isn't there something particularly problematic in the approach of a law that places respected and otherwise law abiding doctors, lawyers, businessmen and pillars of the community on its wrong side?

  • ph||

    and?

    the "there should be a law" crowd don't give a shit about that. get with the program.

  • ||

    MADD has become a detestable organization run by openly prohibitionist busybodies.

    However, Mr Lemas' comment above reminds me of the incredibly foolish attitudes that they had to fight against back when they were against drunk driving (rather than drinking itself). Your right to get wasted at a Lions club meeting ends when you're propelling a multi-ton steel and glass missile at my nose.

  • ||

    Isn't there something particularly problematic in the approach of a law that places respected and otherwise law abiding doctors, lawyers, businessmen and pillars of the community on its wrong side?

    I hate to comment twice in a row, but this sentence just drips with arrogant moneyed white male privilege. You can't imagine how painful it is to type those words for someone like me who is daily pestered by ridiculous left-wingers who utter them at the drop of a hat, but the shoe done fit.

  • Mensan||

    Apparently, in Tulpa's estimation:

    law abiding doctors, lawyers, businessmen and pillars of the community = rich white males

    That's interesting.

  • Keith||

    Lawyers, pillars of communities? Funny!

  • Colin||

    I have to admit that when it comes to these types of driving laws I'm at my least libertarian.

    Get as drunk as you'd like, but don't endanger me when you do so.

  • ||

    I thought much of Mr. Balko's point was that the laws punish a discrete minority of those who might endanger you based upon a moral objection to drink, not those who have objectively demonstrated that they are a danger to you and others.

    To be consistent, you would have to support laws of equal severity for driving while on the telephone or texting, eating, and the sundry other ways a driver's attention can be diverted.

  • cynical||

    Have you ever actually seen a bona fide drunk on the road? I have, and it isn't that hard to pick the fuckers out. I think Balko's point is, take cops off roadblocks, put them on patrol, and find those guys.

  • ||

    Perhaps, but within Mr. Balko's definition of "those guys" would be the cell phone talkers, eaters, and texters who persent a danger to others.

  • robc||

    Yes, and that is a good thing.

  • Bucky||

    guess i picked a bad to eat and drive.

  • Ray Ray||

    He's not suggesting we outlaw cell phones or eating in the car, however. He's saying that preemptive Minority Report type actions against eating, drinking, or texting while driving is kinda meaningless compared to picking out those who are visibly violating traffic laws.

    This is just common sense. I am constantly warding off some asshole who is simply too careless to check his blind spot, or behind me, daydreaming, when traffic comes to a sudden halt. Distracted, lazy, and careless drivers are just as dangerous as those severely impaired by drugs or alcohol.

  • ||

    Drunks are already dangerous way below the point where they're weaving between lanes.

  • ||

    Upon what, exactly, do you base your conclusory statement? Is it necessary to label them "drunks" rather than people who have had a drink or more?

  • ||

    Uh, the multitude of studies showing severely impaired reaction time in individuals after imbibing alcohol.

  • Drunk||

    Fuck you, pussy.

    Those studies put pencil neck dwebs like yourself, who'd get hammered off of Sharp's Beer, into a piece of shit Geo Metro to test out how impaired people are. It's amazing Americans aren't forced to wear fucking saftey helmets in any given situation.

  • Ray Ray||

    This is just silly. If someone isn't visibly impaired enough to warrant being pulled over, then by definition they aren't impaired enough to harm you. Crashes are visible. Lane weaving is visible. Riding someone's ass is visible. Breaking too slow, accelerating too fast, varying speeds, all this dangerous behavior is visible. Arresting someone with a .10 BAC who was able to stay 2 car lengths behind the car in front of them and used all his proper signals is nonsense.

  • Neu Mejican||

    What is not visible is the slowed reaction time when an unexpected event occurs near the impaired driver.

    Drunk driving is dangerous because it causes the driver to react slower when quick reaction is required. You hit the breaks to late, stop turning the wheel too late, take your foot off the accelerator too slowly, or don't coordinate a combination of actions as well.

    You can't see that impairment until the unexpected event occurs and someone is (potentially) injured or dead.

  • ||

    The same can be said about drivers as they age. A 20 year old is usually much quicker than a 50 year old.

  • Neu Mejican||

    BobsterO,

    With some adjustments to those ages, you may be correct (you would have to go older than 50 for any real effect).

    But even assuming the difference was meaningful, what the 50 year old lacks in reaction time, s/he more than makes up for in executive function. The average 20 year old with the relatively lower executive function capacity (and less driving experience) is more dangerous than the average 50/60 year old...ignoring alcohol.

    Throw alcohol into the mix and the 20 year old's (and younger) motor skills are impacted along with and exacerbation of their executive function deficits (inhibition is, perhaps, even more impacted than reaction time) and you've got the most dangerous class of driver.

  • ||

    The fact remains that there are drivers among us on the road in the middle of rush-hour who are FAR more dangerous, stone sober, than a typical .08 BAC driver on their way home from the bar on a nearly-empty highway.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Really?
    You sound so sure of that fact.

    But more to the point, the fact that bad drivers are dangerous has what to do with the fact that drunk drivers are dangerous?

  • Apogee||

    the fact that bad drivers are dangerous has what to do with the fact that drunk drivers are dangerous?

    Exactly Balko's point. They are the same - ergo concentrate on the actual driving, not just half the problem.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Why can't we do both again?

  • ||

    Crashes that kill are particularly visible, but then it's too late. Better them than you though, right? Let freedumb ring!

  • ||

    Do you support a ban on sports cars or heavy trucks because they can go fast or cause massive damage in a crash? Does my right to own one end when you decide to drive in an opposing lane?

  • ||

    I support prohibiting people who are unable to control such a vehicle from driving on public roads. Which is why we have drivers license testing and CDL testing for truck drivers, and revocations of such licenses for those who demonstrate they are unable or unwilling to handle that responsibility.

  • ||

    You very clearly have not read, or if you have, not understood Mr. Balko's post. You support punishing people who have imbibed alcohol over an arbitrary limit and driven. You have not called for road tests of drivers suspected of driving while impaired by alcohol, rather you seem satsified with the current regime of breath and blood tests which do not determine whether a driver is actually unable to drive safely, particularly at and around the near universal .08 limit.

  • ||

    You need bright line limits in the law, even if seemingly arbitrary. This is necessary for streamlining both the conviction of the guilty and the acquittal of the innocent; as it stands now, you can safely "know your limit" fairly precisely before deciding how much you drink and how long before you drive. Replacing 0.08 BAC with a vague "impairment" standard is a recipe for police and prosecutorial harassment. It's amusing to see Radley Balko, of all people, supporting a police chief getting broader discretionary power to put people in cages.

  • ||

    I doubt very much that many people "know their limit" to a level of mathematical certitude before driving - more likely (and the purpose of the temperance movement behind it) it is to cause people to have one or no drinks, or to stay home alltogether, for fear of punishment should they test at .08 rather than .079.

  • ||

    The fact that it's hard to tell whether you're going 19.99 mph vs. 20.01 mph on an auto speedometer doesn't invalidate school zone speed limits.

    There are also arrangements called designated driving that you may not have heard of at the Moose Lodge. Such arrangements allow complete intemperance while preventing drunk driving. Your attempt at a false dichotomy notwithstanding.

  • ||

    The fact that it's hard to tell whether you're going 19.99 mph vs. 20.01 mph on an auto speedometer doesn't invalidate school zone speed limits.

    Which might be why some of us also think speed limits are bullshit.

    "Thanks for this 22mph-in-a-20mph-zone ticket Mr Officer, I hope the precious snowflakes getting indoctrinated in that building i just passed feel safer!"

  • ||

    Curiously enough, the good officers rarely offer their services for designated driving. Wouldn't want people to enjoy drink and avoid the trap, would we? Safety.

  • ||

    I see where you are going with this, and I too would still punish drivers for driving impaired at all. If I was a cop and I pulled over somebody who smelled like alcohol and slurred their speech, I would not need a breathelyzer to know they are impaired. In fact, in most states, an officer doesn't NEED a breathelyzer to arrest you for drunk driving. Any suspicion that you are drunk is all that they need to bring you in. This is something that I am perfectly comfortable with.

    However, I would lessen the penalty for driving drunk unless you cause actual damage. If you simply get caught driving impaired, the worst you should face is a fine or some mandatory AA and maybe a night at the police station. We should throw the book at people who actually cause damage, not the guy who drove a little tipsy after a party one night who got pulled over simply because he was the only one on the road at 3 AM and the cop had nothing better to do. (I have friends this has happened to, and it turned their life upside down. Arguably, the DUI laws caused more harm to their life than a slightly worse than minor crash ever could have.) I'd even agree that people should be ticketed for driving without enough sleep too. Essentially, I agree with Balko's point that we should focus on impairment and not simply alcohol.

  • Joe R.||

    The thing is, Tulpa, even if you're 100% correct, it doesn't address all the libertarian problems with breathalyzers. There are legitimate technical concerns about how they work, and how these problems are ignored by the government. And there are also the standard 4th and 5th amendment concerns about the whole process. So even if I stipulate that 0.08 is fine as a bright line, I still can't get past the other issues.

  • ||

    This is necessary for streamlining the conviction of both the guilty and the innocent

    Ftfy

  • .||

    This is necessary for streamlining railroading the conviction of both the guilty and the innocent.

    Fixed it better. :-)

  • ||

    But we're talking about cars, not trains. "streamlining" can still apply to the aeordynamic shape of the car.

    Then again, cars do cross railroad tracks ofttimes, so I'll allow it.

  • Ray Ray||

    Oh, come on! These organizations such as MADD have fought vehemenently against allowing consumers to even test their own limits or having access to BAC calculators for the admitted purpose of keeping people in fear of reaching their limit. These organizations admit that their goal is to prevent ANY public drinking, and their means create more dangerous situations- drinkers who are ignorant of their BAC levels, and law enforcement being directed in ways that prevent any sort of efficiency in catching actual reckless drivers.

  • Mensan||

    Ray Ray's comment makes me think of my last trip to Australia. I noticed quite a few of the pubs that I patronized in Sydney had coin operated breathalyzers mounted on the walls. Not only are they a handy tool for people who would like to know their BAC, but they're a fair source of revenue. I often witness (and occasionally participated in) competitions to see who had the highest/lowest BAC.

  • Trespassers W||

    I have to admit that when it comes to these types of driving laws I'm at my least libertarian.

    Get as drunk as you'd like, but don't endanger me when you do so.

    Colin, that's kind of like saying you're at you're least libertarian when it comes to anti-murder laws. "Go ahead and shoot your gun, but don't point it at me when you do so."

    In other words, it's perfectly libertarian.

  • Bob||

    Piss poor analogy as always.

  • Trespassers W||

    In what way? And why "as always"?

  • ||

    Oh, you weren't aware that Bob stalks you and criticizes EVERY analogy you make in your day-to-day life?

  • Trespassers W||

    Oh, that Bob.

  • Colin turn in your ||

    decoder ring. We need no rules and fuck everyone-especially teh children

  • ||

    Several studies, such as a 2005 paper in the British Medical Journal, 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.

    Those types of impairment are wholly different as they (a) do not affect the decision to drive in the first place, and (b) are instantly correctable if one encounters more difficult driving conditions. A drunk (or high) person is less aware of their impairment than a person who talks on a cell phone...and it's a lot easier for the person talking on the phone to hang up when it starts raining than it is for the drunk to instantly sober up.

    If all you road privatizers got your wish, I guarantee that every private road owner would prohibit drunk driving (and probably a host of other behaviors you guys decry laws against) on their roads. Private amusement parks don't even let you ride a roller coaster drunk, let alone a bumper car.

  • ||

    Private amusement parks don't even let you ride a roller coaster drunk

    1. that's what MDMA is for. or so I've heard.

    2. couldn't have ANYTHING to do with keeping the puke levels down, on something where sober people have a decent chance of puking.

    3. You sure there's no law forcing the parks to post such a rule? Something liability related?

  • ||

    1. I wouldn't know.

    2. They don't ban people who just ate a large meal.

    3. It might be a condition of their insurance policies, but private road operators would have similar liabilities and similar insurance issues.

  • ||

    "and (b) are instantly correctable if one encounters more difficult driving conditions."

    THey aren't "instantly correctable" in a split second life and death situation. If you can anticipate danger, they might be instantly correctable, but that probably won't be the case.

  • ||

    But but but, Tulpa can drive while on the phone just fine! why do you want to put such an unreasonable burden on him?!

  • Ray Ray||

    Haha Tulpa's statement could have only been made by someone who is constantly more distracted and careless behind the wheel than some drunk. I've got your number, Tulpa!

  • Ben P.||

    Except that these other impairing conditions are also self-created through either stupidity or necessity, in which case they are neither controllable -- because, like a drunk, a person stupid enough to drive and talk on the cell phone for extended periods of time and be impaired while doing so is too stupid to know his or her limitations -- nor able to be shut off on a dime. In the latter case, go ahead and try throwing the screaming child in the backseat out of the car. I'll wait right here.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Those types of impairment are wholly different

    Nope. They are dangerous in precisely the same way.

  • Mensan||

    Private amusement parks don't even let you ride a roller coaster drunk, let alone a bumper car.

    Strange that Busch Gardens gives out free beer right by the roller coasters.

  • flye||

    Oakland, CA stopped doing DUI checkpoints for a while because they were far more effective at finding illegal aliens than drunks, and a city councilman complained that they were thus racist.

    I think there's a lesson there but I have no idea what it is.

  • gruffbear||

    Okay, so a driver demonstrates sloppiness making turns, and weaves a little bit in the lane -- all likely indicators of drunkenness, but none of it illegal.

    In BalkoWorld, the cop doesn't have probable cause to pull the guy over to see if the driver is drunk, because being drunk isn't illegal. All that the cop can do is observe the driver until he causes an accident, runs into someone's property, or hits a pedestrian.

    This is the kind of crap that makes libertarians look unserious.

  • ||

    Weaving between lanes is in itself illegal, as is most sloppiness making turns (I'm not sure about what specific sloppiness you're referring to).

  • gruffbear||

    Weaving around in the lane isn't illegal. Lanes are 12-14 feet wide, so there's room to weave without crossing any lines.

    In any case, are you proposing that the cops should be arbitrarily pulling people over for any little violation of the rules of the road? This would give cops even greater cover for applying pretexts to get around the 4th Amendment.

  • ||

    Have you ever seen a probable cause affidavit for a traffic stop? Every traffic stop in human history has been preceeded by the driver 'failing to maintain lane.'

  • ||

    Cops already can pull you over for any violation of the rules of the road that they observe.

  • gruffbear||

    And in BalkoWorld, if you're sloppy but not violating a law, they can't use that as probable cause. They have to wait for the property destruction or fatality. Brilliant.

  • ||

    Cops already can pull you over for any violation of the rules of the road that they observe.

    And in BalkoWorld, if you're sloppy but not violating a law, they can't use that as probable cause. They have to wait for the property destruction or fatality. Brilliant.

    Reading: You're doing it wrong, bear.

  • Radley Balko||

    And in BalkoWorld, if you're sloppy but not violating a law, they can't use that as probable cause. They have to wait for the property destruction or fatality.

    Yes, I think a police officer should have to observe you actually breaking a law before he detains you. Just one of those crazy libertarian things, I guess.

  • gruffbear||

    Let's pray that your karma doesn't run over your dogma. :)

  • ||

    "And in BalkoWorld, if you're sloppy but not violating a law, they can't use that as probable cause. They have to wait for the property destruction or fatality. Brilliant."

    I do believe that drunk driving should carry a small penalty, but I am against policing future crime as well. Yeah, sure, ticket somebody for driving while impaired, but you don't have to remove their license and hit them with a 1000 fee when they didn't technically cause any serious crime yet.

  • the law||

    but you don't have to remove their license and hit them with a 1000 fee when they didn't technically cause any serious crime yet.

    Well shit, man, how else are we gonna make any money?

  • ||

    lol

  • ||

    +1

  • Slut Bunwalla||

    Cops already can pull you over for any violation of the rules of the road that they observe reason they want.

    FTFY

  • the law||

    Yeah, pretty much. Hell, they can always think of something.

  • gruffbear||

    Oops, factual error. Most interstate highway lanes are about 11' to 12' wide. That's still enough room to weave, though.

  • ||

    And weaving between lanes is STILL different than weaving in one lane.

    Glad you're working on your factual errors, now try working on your interpretative errors.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Gruffbear,

    In BalkoWorld, the cop doesn't have probable cause to pull the guy over to see if the driver is drunk, because being drunk isn't illegal.

    Duh.

    All that the cop can do is observe the driver until he causes an accident, runs into someone's property, or hits a pedestrian.

    Just like in ANY OTHER SITUATION, like if I hit a pedestrian or run into someone's property, drunk or not.

    This is the kind of crap that makes libertarians look unserious.

    Yours is the kind of logical thinking that makes statist fucks look seriously fucked up.

  • gruffbear||

    So you don't support a cop pulling a car off the road on probable cause of alcohol impairment based on observed driving, even though the driver hasn't broken any laws. You want to wait for the accident.

    Like I said, this kind of crap makes libertarians look unserious.

  • Trespassers W||

    Did you RTFA or just the title?

    Isn't Balko's point to replace anti-drunk-driving laws with anti-impaired-driving laws? More specifically, to increase penalties on reckless driving?

    If our ultimate goals are to reduce driver impairment and maximize highway safety, we should be punishing reckless driving more consistently. 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.

    The situation you describe is reckless driving, i.e. the driver would be breaking the law (and presumably, although it's not essential to my point, is already breaking the law).

    In BalkoWorld, the cop doesn't have probable cause to pull the guy over to see if the driver is drunk, because being drunk isn't illegal.

    In summary: no, in BalkoWorld, the cop does have probable cause to pull the guy over, because he's driving recklessly.

    In your world, apparently, the cop has probable cause, but can't charge the guy with anything unless he's drunk. I don't see how that's better.

  • gruffbear||

    "...in BalkoWorld, the cop does have probable cause to pull the guy over, because he's driving recklessly."

    Not if the driver is not breaking any laws. Drive 45 mph on the freeway. List back and forth between the lines. Making halting and wide turns at intersections. Nothing reckless. All legal.

    And in BalkoWorld, if you did all those things and the cop pulled you over, you would be violating the driver's 4th Amendment rights, because you would have no probable cause.

  • Trespassers W||

    I guess I just don't find your example all that plausible. The driver is drunk enough to be a threat to others, is driving erratically, and nevertheless has the mental capacity and hand-eye coordination to otherwise follow the rules of the road?

  • Kat||

    As a resident Floridian, I see this a dozen times a day, every day from sober geezers.

  • ||

    As another resident Floridian, I'll second Kat's note.

  • Mensan||

    And thirded.

    On a side note: I've noticed lots of Floridians on here lately. Maybe we could start FSP-Florida.

  • ||

    Fourthed. I live in Orlando, but just drove up from Miami today and it was about a hundred times worse than what I deal with in the middle of the state.

    Drunk rednecks > old Jews/hispanics

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: gruffbear,

    So you don't support a cop pulling a car off the road on probable cause of alcohol impairment based on observed driving, even though the driver hasn't broken any laws. You want to wait for the accident.

    The same way I am not going to incarcerate somebody for a crime that has not happened. I am not going to violate someone's freedom just because of what he might do.

    Like I said, this kind of crap makes libertarians look unserious.

    Your question-begging arguments (assuming drunk driving is an actual crime to then argue that it is correct to stop a person for it) makes you look as incapable of thinking.

  • gruffbear||

    Drunk driving is a crime because it ought to be a crime.

    The water's edge for personal conduct in a libertarian world is whether or not the conduct harms other people. It's not unreasonable to any but the most dogmatic libertarians to proscribe conduct that, while not always resulting in harm to others, does have inherent in it the high likelihood of inflicting harm. You know, conduct like manipulating a powerful, heavy machine at high speeds while drunk.

    It's not "begging the argument." It's applying a little reality. Abolishing drunk driving laws only works in the the country that exists between your ears. And it's articles like this that make libertarians look unserious.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: gruffbear,

    Drunk driving is a crime because it ought to be a crime.

    Wow, circular thinking. You got me at 'ought.'

    The water's edge for personal conduct in a libertarian world is whether or not the conduct harms other people.

    Not the conduct, nitwit - actual ACTIONS.

    It's not unreasonable to any but the most dogmatic libertarians to proscribe conduct that, while not always resulting in harm to others, does have inherent in it the high likelihood of inflicting harm.

    "Likelihood" makes a case for liability, gruff - you can argue for higher penalities or damages after the fact, but not for abridging someone's freedom or criminalizing a behavior.

    It is certainly not unreasonable to think that driving while impaired is not a good idea and it is not unreasonable that a person that inflicts damages while impaired should be liable for higher penalties. What IS unreasonable is to PUNISH someone that has NOT damaged anybody just for driving his property while, presumably, "drunk."

    You know, conduct like manipulating a powerful, heavy machine at high speeds while drunk.

    Consider several things before making these sweeping assertions:

    1) Laws that limit the construction or location of pubs and bars.
    2) The distances that patrons have to drive to and back.

    Who imposed the drunk driving laws? Government. Why would people have to drive to their local pub or bar? Because of government.

    Laws exist to punish acts, things that already happened. Drunk Driving laws pressume that anyone behind the wheel that indulged in drinking is thereby liable for a supposed damage that has not happened. Lawmakers presume to know the future.

    It's not "begging the argument." It's applying a little reality.

    No, it's question-begging, circular thinking. "Drunk driving is a crime because it leads to crimes. Drunk driving is a crime because people who are drunk driving could commit a crime." All these are examples of question begging.

    Abolishing drunk driving laws only works in the the country that exists between your ears.

    That's not an argument, gruff.

  • gruffbear||

    I can't argue with an anarchist.

    Someone I knew hit a little girl with his car, and killed her, while he was driving drunk.

    In his case, the cops were not able to stop him. But I am grateful that there are laws in place that criminalize operating a motor vehicle with blood alcohol above a certain level, because if the cops had gotten to him, they would have had the legal framework for taking him off the road before he could catalyze a tragedy that destroyed her life, and made her family's lives and the life of the driver a living hell.

    An article that proposes removing that framework only serves to make libertarianism look unserious.

  • ||

    Why does it have to criminalize? If the issue is really public safety and avoiding similar tragedies, aren't there more beneficial ways for the government to intervene for the purpose of safety that don't include steep fines (revenue to the local government), imprisonment, public humilliation, etc?

  • gruffbear||

    Alec, in the United States the government is (or ought to be) limited in the ways that it can insinuate itself into the lives of others. I would prefer a government that leaves me alone as long as I don't directly harm others. And I think that if I'm irresponsible enough to drive drunk, then that conduct does negatively affect the risk of property damage or loss of life that people experience in my community. Therefore it is of social benefit, and consistent with a libertarian viewpoint, that the government step in and keep me from doing it, within the limits of what they are constitutionally allowed to do.

    Radley Balko, if I understand him correctly, thinks that it isn't proper for the government to step in before the little girl (above) is run over and killed. I think that it is.

  • ||

    You're being a huge douche by pretending that those with whom you disagree are in favot of little girl slaughter.

  • gruffbear||

    Ideas have consequences.

  • Tim||

    Your argument entirely misses the point.

    The article argues for a legal framework to take impaired drivers off the road which judges whether a driver is impaired for reasons other than bac. You are complaining that the author is arguing against one standard by which we can judge the danger of a driver, but ignoring the fact that he is proposing another standard, and therefore construing him as some kind of anarchist whose ideas would lead to mass lawlessness on the road.

    Humans often make the serious logical error of treating their preferred systems of government as if they will usually work in reality as idealistically as they work on paper, while believing that alternatives will rarely if ever produce their designed intentions. In doing so, they compare a rose-tinted version of their own preferences against a more realistic interpretation of their detractors. I suggest that you've been making the same error so far. Did you miss the part in the article about how your favored bac tests end up pulling officers off the road and into checkpoints that rarely turn up any actual drunk drivers?

  • Ben P.||

    You're wasting your breath on gruffbear at this point, I think. Bear in mind that he *gets* that Radley is implementing another standard. He just doesn't think that standard will be effective.

    Because he simultaneously accuses us of living in la-la land while he lives in a land where a driver who is at .08 BAC will drive only within his own lane, and within a safe margin of the actual posted speed limit, making the police utterly powerless to stop him by the standards of we-the-citizens-of-Balkoworld, *until the moment that driver hits and kills someone*.

  • ||

    A driver does not have to be weaving, or driving erratically in any way, for them to be impaired. Higher brain functions such as visual processing and the capacity for intelligent reaction to occurrences on the road are impaired at a much lower BAC than muscle control is.

    Gruffbear and I are arguing that Radley's proposal (a) is going to actually give police and prosecutors far more opportunities for harassment and (b) provides no means of removing most truly impaired drivers from the road and/or deterring them from getting behind the wheel in the first place.

  • Whappan||

    These are very difficult questions, and I don't presume to have all the answers, however I might point out that the drunk driving laws that you advocate were in place and didn't prevent the tragedy that you describe. Perhaps if the police were on patrol looking for aberrant behavior, rather than at sobriety checkpoints they might have been more likely to prevent said tragedy.

  • Apogee||

    But patrolling doesn't bring in the revenue that sobriety checkpoints do. It requires actual work to locate impaired drivers as opposed to blanket searches that guarantee a set amount of results.

    And that's what this argument is really about.

    Government revenue is the driving force behind public "safety" measures, which actually decrease public safety because they concentrate resources in revenue chasing operations over protection.

    The legal process should have no connection to revenue collection, as that corrupting weight will expand and consume all other efforts.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Some of the OM logic here is sound.

    It requires that we abandon the idea that laws can prevent bad things from happening, or that rules change people's behavior to be sound policy advice, but it is logically sound in the formal sense.

    You could, perhaps, make any injury that happens as a result of drunk driving aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and any death equivalent to 1st degree homicide...but that would, it seems, do less to deter the source behavior than the current legal regime.

    Driving drunk is an action taken based on a person's difficulty making accurate risk assessment. It requires the "bad things happen to other people" logic to be in full force. If people are only punished when that bad thing happens...the punishment moves into the class of things that "happen to other people" and has less power to deter the behavior, methinks.

  • Bramblyspam||

    I'm fine with putting an end to sobriety checkpoints, but if you propose to enforce "impairment" rather than blood alcohol content, you need a good way to define "impairment". Given that Balko would balk at defining "impairment" as "whatever the whim of a police officer says it is", can he suggest a more objective way to measure impairment?

    The only objective standard I can think of is "if you caused an accident, you were impaired", but I find that argument unpersuasive. By that logic, it would be okay for some idiot to drive 200mph on the freeway as long as he doesn't get in a crash.

  • gruffbear||

    That's the beauty of codifying blood alcohol levels. It's not perfect, but it's a standard that's a lot more specific and objective than anything alluded to (or elided over) in Balko's article.

  • ||

    Though objective, as stated above it does not correlate to level of impairment. Might as well use "number of drinks" as the standard - it's as objective as BAC.

  • gruffbear||

    Measured blood alcohol content is less arbitrary than "number of drinks," and the evidence is easier to collect. It's not perfect, but it's more objective than anything Balko proposes.

  • ||

    If by "not perfect" you mean "completely idiotic given how the human body actually metabolizes alchohol," then yes, you're absolutely correct.

  • ||

    To put it another way, to say that a particular criminal offense has objective violation criteria is, at best, damning it with faint praise where, as here, those criteria are fucking stupid. You may as well punish everybody who's wearing pink socks.

  • ||

    Something tells me you don't understand what correlation means.

  • ||

    I've got a Russian friend who can down a pint of vodka and then do backflips seriatim who might be able to explain correlation to you.

  • ||

    And the more vodka he drinks, the more impaired he gets. That's (positive) correlation.

    What you're saying is that his personal constant of proportionality is high. So what? That doesn't change the fact that BAC and impairment are positively correlated.

  • ||

    An arbitratry standard of BAC does not correlate to a defined level of impairment. As stated above, a young and infrequent drinker who is female may be a danger at BAC .05, while many people would be safe to drive by objectively measured standards (of safe driving) while above BAC .05 or .08.

  • ||

    That's not correlation, but looking at your larger point, one person driving at 30 mph through a school zone may be able to stop faster than another person driving at 15mph. That doesn't make speed limits in school zones a bad idea.

  • ||

    Neither justifies making the speed limit in a school zone 2 mph, or expanding a school zone to a radius of 3 miles from a school for safety's sake.

  • Bill||

    Dr. Johnny Fever's reaction times got better and faster the more he had to drink!!

  • gruffbear||

    Go ahead. Expand on your insinuation. I need a laugh.

  • ||

    By that logic, it would be okay for some idiot to drive 200mph on the freeway as long as he doesn't get in a crash.

    By George, I think you've got it!

  • ||

    I take it you think it should be legal to stand in the middle of a park, spin around a few times, and then fire a bullet in whatever direction you're facing.

    After all, there's a chance the bullet won't hit anyone or their property.

  • ||

    I take it you think it should be illegal to fire a bullet anywhere, because there's a chance it could hit someone or their property.

    It's a matter of realistically and dispassionately weighing societal costs and benefits - rather than blithely stating that someone might possibly endanger you and your precious nose after a Lions' club meeting.

  • ||

    How marvellously collectivist. My life and that of my family must be risked so that the Lions club doesn't close up shop?

  • Cheech||

    You are arguing with stoner here.

  • ||

    Your life and that of your family are at higher risk by the presence of commercial vehicles on the roads. If we removed them, your life and those of your family would be safer, however the society in which this law is enforced would be far, far poorer. If we get poor enough, perhaps there will not be wealth to support the use of vehicles in the first place - imagine how safe your family would be then . . .

  • ||

    Terrible analogy. The danger levels are completely different.

    That's like saying if we're going to prohibit gun ownership by schizophrenic people, we have to ban guns entirely.

  • ||

    How do you know that the "danger levels" are different? Did you conduct a study or something, or are you just making shit up?

  • Ben P.||

    Since not all intake of alcohol is caused by a mental health condition that must be medicated or treated on a constant or at least continual basis, I would say that the closer analogy is "if we're going to prohibit gun ownership by people who *occasionally do something stupid* we have to ban guns entirely."

    So, sure, go ahead and propose that one.

  • ghartshaw||

    Yes, it should be. If it kills someone, you get charged with murder, etc. For most people the possibility of it hitting something is high enough that they wouldn't do it, and if they are that stupid, they would do it regardless of whether it is legal or not.

  • Old Mexican||

    Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo wants to create a new criminal offense: "driving while ability impaired." The problem with the current Texas law prohibiting "driving while intoxicated" (DWI), Acevedo explained to the Austin-American Statesman in October, is that it doesn't allow him to arrest a driver whose blood-alcohol content (BAC) is below 0.08 percent unless there's additional evidence of impairment.

    Acevedo wants to be able to pull evidence from his ass, but the current law is not vague enough. Got it.

    Acevedo wants to be able to arrest people with BAC levels as low as 0.05 percent,

    That is, far below the threshold for the accuracy of a breathalizer. Basically, Acevedo wants to be able to arrest anyone that strikes his fancy.

    [...]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, likes his idea.

    Statist fucks will find such ideas attractive, invariably.

  • ||

    By that logic, it would be okay for some idiot to drive 200mph on the freeway as long as he doesn't get in a crash.

    Actually, a literal interpretation of the non-initiation principle of libertarianism requires that logic, and the last time we had this discussion, there were more than a few defenders of that POV.

    This failing of the NIP can easily be addressed by saying that the govt should enforce the same rules a reasonable private owner of the roads would, but when I say that I get called a statist.

  • robc||

    Its not a problem if the governemnt first sells the road to that private owner.

    Statist.

  • ||

    Thank you for admitting your philosophy is irrelevant to anything involving government owned roads.

  • Joe R.||

    It's true that it's hard to apply libertarian principles to some non-libertarian premises. It's like asking how libertarianism will supply universal health care or seize private property. "What rules should the government have on the roads it owns?" falls into the same category. You can't always get to the libertarian solution when the starting conditions are all statist.

  • ||

    It's not perfect, but it's a standard

    That's nice. An arbitrary standard, which has been enshrined in the law as incontestable proof.

    As much as it might horrify certain parties, some of us believe the law should punish actual harm, since it is a miserable failure at prescience.

  • ||

    fire a bullet in whatever direction you're facing.

    Why only one?

    Can't I use my gold-plated full auto mac 10 with the mother of pearl grips?

  • ||

    The spinning around is the part that I find hard: how are you supposed to keep your monocle firmly seated?

  • Deejay Drugs||

    Isn't it obviously the counter-gyro effect of a fully waxed mustache that will keep one balanced?

  • Mensan||

    No, no, it's not that complicated. You just clip it to your top hat.

  • ||

    Just for the record, dashcam footage might provide sufficiently compelling evidence in court.

    Of course, the last thing the cops and prosecutors want to do is to actually go to court and *prove* something to a jury. That's why they love per se BAC laws; they get a number which cannot be challenged, and presto! it's "let's make a deal" time.

    3) Profit!

  • Almanian ||

    The gummint do always like going straight to #3, don't it?

  • ||

    Sufficiently compelling evidence of what? Balko proposes no clear standard by which the jury is supposed to measure the videotaped conduct.

    The point of having written laws is so that individuals can know before committing an act whether it is legal or not. What you propose will work against that purpose.

  • ||

    1. Law against weaving in and out of lanes.

    2. video of defendant breaking that law.

    3. Conviction and Suspension of License.

    I'm not seeing the difficulty or counter-productiveness of this scenario, please Tulpa, elucidate it for me.

  • ||

    Well, that's already covered by reckless driving statute. But as I stated above, reaction time is impaired at a much lower alcohol level than the gross muscle control that causes weaving.

  • ||

    Well, that's already covered by reckless driving statute.

    EXACTLY.

  • ||

    reaction time is impaired at a much lower alcohol level than the gross muscle control that causes weaving

    I don't recall the DMV ever testing my reaction times. Shouldn't everyone's base reaction time be considered before they ever get a license?

    Or would that unfairly penalize people (old people and asians come to mind) who can drive just fine as long as they allow themselves enough stopping distance?

  • ||

    For that matter, it takes a fully-loaded Mack Truck MUCH longer to stop or safely change direction than a drunk in a pinto, and the danger to other drivers on the road is much greater if said truck were to run into you. Should we disallow heavy vehicles on the grounds that they are less likely to stop in time when faced with an unexpected situation?

  • ||

    And in BalkoWorld, if you're sloppy but not violating a law, they can't use that as probable cause.

    Comprehension fail.

  • gruffbear||

    You can't use sloppy driving as probable cause for stopping and questioning the driver on suspicion of drunk or impaired driving if drunk or impaired driving is legal. You have to wait for the accident.

    Do you comprehend now?

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: gruffbear,

    "You can't use sloppy dressing as probable cause for stopping and questioning a black guy on suspicion of committing a robbery if dressing badly is legal. You have to wait for the actual crime."

    Comprendes, pendejo???

  • gruffbear||

    You can't kill anybody by dressing badly, pinche.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: gruffbear,

    You can't kill anybody by dressing badly, pinche.

    How do YOU know that, gruffbear?

    A person that dresses badly might be a gangbanger who might rob and even kill somebody, so why can't the case be made?

  • gruffbear||

    You're unserious. QED

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Gruffbear,

    You're not thinking. QED.

  • Destrudo||

    You are wrestling with a pig, OM.

  • gruffbear||

    Dood, you're saying that a gangbanger kills people because of the clothes he wears.

    And you're accusing ME of not thinking?

    Surrender, Dorothy!

  • ||

    Gangbangers wear loose fitting clothing to conceal weapons and contraband. Probable cause, right?

  • gruffbear||

    Gangbangers wear loose fitting clothing to conceal weapons and contraband. Probable cause, right?

    Cars don't kill people any more than loose clothes kill people. It's what you do while you're in them that could qualify as probable cause.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Gruffbear,

    I will have to spell it out to you:

    PRESUMPTION OF GUILT for a CRIME that has NOT HAPPENED YET.

    That's the definition of an drunk driving law.

  • gruffbear||

    If you measure 0.8 (or 1.0, or whatever the local laws allow) and drive a car, that's the crime you commit. It's a crime because people who have that level of blood alcohol and drive a car are far more likely to damage property or hurt people than people who don't. The actual effects of damaging property or hurting people may or may not be criminal.

    There's a vast difference between probable cause and presumption of guilt, pinche. You're confusing the United States with Mexico.

  • ||

    gruffbear says that if you're over the legal limit of BAC (whateverthefuck arbitrary number it is) you're scientfically proven to be far more dangerous than people who don't drink, because why would the law impose an arbitrarily low standard in the first place?

    Fucking genius, this guy.

  • gruffbear||

    Hey, back in my misspent youth, I drove way drunk lots of times. I was an excellent drunk driver. Never got caught.

    Should the law have made an exception for me? No. The law only catches unskillful or unclever drunk drivers. Hey, I'm libertarian. Charles Darwin is my homeboy!

  • ||

    In Pennsylvania (and other states) there is a legal fiction that you consent to a blood test at any time when you receive your driver's license. If you ever refuse the blood test, your license is automatically suspended for one year.

    Sound like the United States to you?

  • ||

    I suppose you prefer the legal fiction that you consent to share the road with drunks when you get your drivers license, or even ride in a car as a passenger.

  • ||

    What you wrote doesn't make a lick of sense.

  • gruffbear||

    Welcome to Reason Hit & Run.

  • Ben P.||

    You can't kill anyone by drinking, either.

    The crime is 'committing a robbery WHILE dressing badly' not 'dressing badly'; just as the other crime is 'driving WHILE impared', not 'being impaired'.

    Although I don't know why I'm bothering. I'm already at the point where 'gruffbear saying 'unserious'' is about to get nominated for addition to the Reason Drinking Game, for pity's sake.

  • dotdotdot||

    Meanwhile in Florida, if you wander through a DUI checkpoint and refuse to blow into a breathalizer, a judge is on hand to issue a warrant for an immediate blood test.

    http://www.wtsp.com/news/local.....yid=165079

  • dotdotdot||

    Let's try that link again.

  • Destrudo||

    Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo wants to create a new criminal offense: “driving while ability impaired.”

    Geez, he wants it to be a crime for women and asians to drive? Harsh.

  • gruffbear||

    Yeah. Don't harsh my mellow, dude.

  • ||

    Wait, am I making libertarians look unserious? I dun goof'd.

  • Almanian ||

    **applause**

  • ||

    Why go all this trouble to track down offenders? If I recall, HuffPo heartthrob Bernie Sanders once proposed mandating breathalyzers in all vehicles that the driver would have to pass every few minutes to keep their car running.

  • ||

    Fellating your car for safety. Heh.

  • ||

    The point of having written laws is so that individuals can know before committing an act whether it is legal or not. What you propose will work against that purpose.

    And the point of having laws *should be* to deter and/or punish people harming one another. If a hypothetical person has three or four beers after work, and then drives carefully home without crashing his car or running over any pedestrians, whom has he harmed?

    If a policeman observes him being neither careful nor attentive (and even captures photographic evidence of the pattern of driving), it is within the bounds of that officer's authority to pull the driver over, to determine if he presents a demonstrable danger to the public. This would, by the way, be true whether the driver in question had been sucking down martinis, or was about to suffer a diabetic collapse.

  • ||

    You never answered the question about shooting blindly in a random direction. Legal or not in Brookstopia?

    And after that, of course, we can go into the broader question of whether harm is really necessary for something to be illegal. For instance, holding a camera under a woman's skirt on an escalator and snapping a few photos of her nether regions does not harm her (unless one stretches the definition of harm to a degree that would make a speech code author envious). Should it be legal?

  • ||

    On an unrelated note, wanna buy pictures of your wife?

  • ||

    I may be a bit overweight, but I'm no Rex Ryan.

  • robc||

    Until very recently, that exact action was legal in nearly every state.

  • ||

    Until recently, that exact action would have been difficult or impossible to pull off due to the size and noisiness of cameras.

    Every state had Peeping Tom statutes which are criminalizing essentially the same activity...viewing a person's private parts without their consent. Which is not causing a harm in the usual sense of the word.

  • ||

    When that picture shows up on the net, and her boss recognizes her underwear and she gets fired, that might be construed as harm.

  • ||

    Oh, for a civil suit of course, not criminal charges.

  • ||

    That's so indirect a harm as to be tort material, not a matter for criminal law. Racial epithets could cause harm in much the same way.

  • ||

    HA HA, not refreshing strikes again!

  • Mensan||

    ...and her boss recognizes her underwear and she gets fired...

    Why would her boss recognize her underwear? And honestly, would a boss who is browsing upskirt pics at work really fire an employee over that?

  • ||

    Look out, Tulpa!

    The world is a dangerous place!

  • ||

    You can get a DUI in some states for riding a horse or bicycle while intoxicated, or for sitting in a parked vehicle with the keys in the ignition but the engine not running.

    It's about safety, people.

  • ||

    Well, if your horse has been drinking too...

  • ||

    SNOWBALLLLLZ!111

  • Tony||

    Reason: regurgitating the epiphanies of stoned 15-year-olds since 1968.

  • tooM||

    I can't understand what you are saying with that penis in your mouth.

  • Tony||

    Well you seemed to be enjoying it.

  • ||

    Tony is sucking your dick tooM! MEGA BURN!!!!!

  • ||

    I take it you think it should be legal to stand in the middle of a park, spin around a few times, and then fire a bullet in whatever direction you're facing.

    Flesh out the details.

    Am I blindfolded?

    What kind of "gun"?

    What does this job pay?

    How many people are in the park?

    What's my motivation?

    Why am I wasting my time responding to your ridiculous hypothetical?

  • ||

    1. No
    2. Your gold-plated full auto mac 10 with the mother of pearl grips
    3. $0.50/hr plus "benefits"
    4. 5-10 people per square decameter per hour
    5. You just won the superbowl, but found out DisneyLand is closed for maintenance, and you stubbed your toe. Action!
    6. Alcohol?

  • ||

    Assume whatever combination of details makes this activity the most likely to be legal in your mind. (Funny that you never care this much about the details before judging whether a cop was justified in shooting a dog!)

    PS: When you sidestep the question again and again, it becomes apparent to the reader that you know the answer is going to hurt your side of the argument.

  • ||

    Funny that you never care this much about the details before judging whether a cop was justified in shooting a dog!

    No-Knocks being almost universally unjustified, I'm not sure why we need any details past that point.

  • ||

    Many of the dog shootings aren't related to no-knocks, rather they occur when police approach a house and a dog in the yard approaches.

  • ||

    Many? Not enough for me to remember, off hand, a single story where that was the case, apparently.

  • ||

    The one where an officer was chasing a suspect through the dog owner's yard comes to mind.

  • ||

    Ok, I recall that one now. Got another?

  • ||

    (because that still leaves the score at: No-Knocks: Elevntybajillion, Other: 1)

  • Sideshow Bob||

    Hah! Attempted murder? Now honestly, what is that? Do they give a Nobel prize for attempted chemistry? Do they?

  • robc||

    Tulpa has an analogy fail:

    Spinning around and firing a weapon is EXACTLY like driving impaired. It is not like driving with an above an arbitrary limit.

    Spinning around and firing randomly and driving impaired both have a high probability of endangering others and thus, Tulpa me and Balko all support those people being arrested.

    Driving with a .09 BAC may or may not have a high enough probability of endangering others to reach that standard. That varies with the individual. For me, I would be impaired. But for some functional alcoholic, maybe not. And for some super-sniper, he may be able to spin around in the park and still hit the bullseye he set up 200 yards away.

  • robc||

    And to continue on from a thread from the other day...juries are the judge of facts* in criminal cases (not BAC machines).

    *and the law, but that is a different issue. Or maybe not. If I was on a DUI jury and the guy tested at .08 but could give me reasonable doubt as to his impairment, I wouldnt convict.

  • ||

    I suppose you would prohibit autopsy results from being presented in evidence during murder trials, since the jury isn't personally doing the autopsy. Likewise for DNA analysis, correct?

  • ||

    The Rules of Evidence do not permit the prosecutor to enter written "autopsy results" as self-sufficient evidence. The good doctor must appear to be cross examined as to what he has done and his medical conclusions.

  • ||

    And the person performing the breathalyzer also must be made available for questioning. If the defense wishes to present evidence questioning the reliability of the breathalyzer device, they may do that as well.

  • ||

    And robc would be free to find his testimony not credible, and the testimony of the defendant or other witnesses credible in coming to a conclusion of reasonable doubt.

  • ||

    In his asterisk, robc stated he might vote to acquit even if he had no doubt about the BAC measurement.

  • ||

    We have multiple arguments going on here simultaneously.

    The analogy I gave was in response to those saying that an activity must always cause harm in order to be banned.

    The other question floating around is how impairment should be defined. In the shooting example, how should the law differentiate between the super sniper and an ordinary person? That's a tough question, which is why Radley and many others here insist on either ignoring it entirely or sidestepping it with vague "I know it when I see it" garbage.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    As other commenters have pointed out, this would seem to be more open to abuse than a clear cut blood alchohol limit.

    Do you really want somebody convicted of a serious offense because Officer Fred testifies that "the driver was operating the vehicle in a way that indicated impairment" with no other evidence whatsoever?

  • ||

    Less officer testimony and more dashcam footage.

    And that goes for pretty much everything, which is why I support having cops wear cameras on their persons too. Untamperable, instantly-uploaded-to-a-citizen-review-board's-server cameras.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Experience says otherwise. With such a vague standard, officer testimony will be used to get convictions, even when the video evidence is inconclusive or somehow "missing."

  • kbolino||

    Perhaps it's time we consider the loss of crucial evidence on the part of the prosecution as sufficient grounds for dismissal with prejudice. That would probably motivate the police to hold onto their evidence a little better. For what it's worth, I'm not cop bashing--dashcam footage often shows that the cop was in the right (and just how in the wrong the suspect was).

  • Trespassers W||

    Do you really want somebody convicted of a serious offense because Officer Fred testifies that "the driver was operating the vehicle in a way that indicated impairment" with no other evidence whatsoever?

    No.

    But, say, if there were video showing that the driver was operating the vehicle in a way that indicated impairment, and there were two lawyers that made arguments pro and con in front of a jury ("come on, it wasn't that bad", "dude, it totally was, look at that"), and then the jury said "yep, that was some dangerous driving and he could have killed someone", then I gotta say yes, I'd want them convicted of something, possibly a serious offense.

  • ||

    Under the current system, if I have one beer at a party, and then wait two hours before driving, I'm assured of not being guilty of DWI.

    I have no such assurance if the standard for DWI is changed to "whatever a jury doesn't like when they see the video".

  • ||

    I've found your mistake. Mr. Balko advocated abolishing DWI as a crime entirely. You wouldn't be convicted of DWI, you'd be convicted of operating your vehicle in a manner dangerous to other people (reckless/careless driving) whether you did so under the influence of one beer two hours ago, no beer, or ten beers within the half hour. Get it now?

  • ||

    He intends to replace DWI with an expanded reckless driving statute (presumably with similar penalties to what DWI gets now). So yes, in my second sentence above insert "enhanced reckless driving" instead of "DWI".

  • ||

    You're still presuming that the "enhanced" part would have something to do with having imbibed. It's the behavior in operating the vehicle that should be punished, based upon its severity. If you had a BAC of .14 and simply failed to maintain your lane - how dangerous were you, exactly? See the point?

  • ||

    If jurors know that reckless driving == drunk driving in most cases, that's going to prejudice the way they watch the video. They will be looking for the slightest clues that I was impaired.

    As it stands now, if I'm being prosecuted for reckless driving, they're going to assume (correctly, usually) that I wasn't drunk because they would have gone for DWI if I was. And thus they would expect some serious evidence of recklessness in the video to vote guilty.

  • ||

    You're making Balko's point here, it seems to me.

  • Drunk||

    Exactly.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    If jurors know that reckless driving == drunk driving in most cases, that's going to prejudice the way they watch the video. They will be looking for the slightest clues that I was impaired.

    Yes, that's the reality. I'm not sure why Radley is so enamored with this idea, given how he specializes in reporting bad behavior on the part of the police. How could replacing clear cut DWI standards with something much more subjective and vague not end up being abused?

  • kbolino||

    From what I understand, Balko's points are thus:

    1. The 0.08 limit, while objective, is arbitrary. It's already lower than what it used to be, and it will probably continue to be lowered. The lower this limit, the more it is about controlling drinking than stopping impaired driving.

    2. The stated goal of the laws (and the state's interest) is to remove impaired drivers from the road. Impairment is a condition defined by certain characteristics, not a blood alcohol concentration. We should focus on identifying, testing, and punishing impairment in general instead of focusing on drunk driving.

    3. Accordingly, enforcement should switch from broad indiscriminate checkpoints to targeted suspicion-based traffic stops. Balko isn't saying there wouldn't be abuse, just that the current "objective" system is heavily abused, where unrelated offenses are penalized at drunk-driving checkpoints.

  • ||

    The 0.08 limit, while objective, is arbitrary. It's already lower than what it used to be, and it will probably continue to be lowered. The lower this limit, the more it is about controlling drinking than stopping impaired driving.

    If you don't have the political juice to stop the BAC limit from being lowered, you can't implement Radley's proposals either.

    Impairment is a condition defined by certain characteristics, not a blood alcohol concentration. We should focus on identifying, testing, and punishing impairment in general instead of focusing on drunk driving.

    The problem is that impairment is very difficult to objectively test, and pretty much impossible to test without stopping vehicles. You'd have to replace breathalyzer checkpoints with "impairment test" checkpoints, which doesn't accomplish anything.

    Your third point admits that there will be abuse and gives no reason why there would be less under the other system. Further, assuming that "unrelated offenses" refers to drug possession, your beef is with the drug laws, not with DWI checkpoints. Just because we think drug laws are stupid doesn't mean the rest of society has to pretend they don't exist.

  • Apogee||

    Your third point admits that there will be abuse and gives no reason why there would be less under the other system.

    I know how there would be less abuse - remove the profit motive.

  • Chris||

    When the NMA wades into this minefield, the typical alternative they propose is an automated impairment tester; i.e., a device that records reaction times to a surprise stimulus (such as a flashing light or the sound of a tone). One constructs such a machine, presumably, with the benefit of a group of known-impaired subjects and a control group, and establishes the standard such that the reaction time is unlikely to falsely impugn a member of the control group.

    This neatly ferrets out those who are impaired owing to alcohol, drugs, sleep deprivation, hypoglycemic diabetic condition, etc., based upon a *performance* standard rather than upon some arbitary number from a breathalyzer.

  • Some Guy||

    This is absolutely the right thing to do in theory, but I think I'd rather have a poorly conceived arbitrary line than leaving things entirely up to the discretion of the cop who needs to bust a few more DUIs this week to fill his illegal quota.

  • ||

    arbitrary line than leaving things entirely up to the discretion of the cop

    Which is EXACTLY the same thing as a jury reviewing some video footage of your transgression and ruling on your guilt. Yes, exactly the same.

    Please, don't bother to read any of the comments that refute your statement, you're right, we're wrong. Happy? Now you can get back to your holiday and leave us morons in peace.

  • ||

    Again, what is the jury supposed to be looking for in the video? That has to be clearly codified in the law.

  • ||

    So, I looked up the legal definition of reckless driving for MD, and ok, you might have a point seeing how it's pretty damn vague. I really expected a lot more detail based on the laws I looked up about needing a license for a moped, once upon a time.

    So yes, the law would need to codify "reckless" beyond just:

    A person is guilty of reckless driving if he drives a motor vehicle:

    (1) In wanton or willful disregard for the safety of persons or property; or

    (2) In a manner that indicates a wanton or willful disregard for the safety of persons or property.

  • ||

    Proposed details:

    Weaving in and out of lanes; "weaving" defined as repeated unsignaled lane changes (possibly "without regard to other vehicles")

    Not maintaining appropriate stopping distance for the speed of traffic.

    ...that's all I got for now. Clearly, I'm not legislator material.

  • ||

    This is why I agree with the arbitrary BAC, even though I do think it is too low. It would be nearly impossible to codify specifically. You are almost certainly smarter than any legislature, and yet still have difficulty drawing lines.

  • ||

    Translation: Legal confusion is worse than arbitrary enforcement.

  • ||

    "Arbitrary enforcement" implies that a law is enforced inconsistently. That's not what we're calling for. It's consistent enforcement of a clearly-defined standard (that has been arbitrarily decided upon at some time in the past).

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Remember, there will be testimony from an officer of the law that you bobbed and weaved down the lane, even if it's not fully caught on camera. If a cop says you were driving recklessly, a jury will tend to take his word for it, video or not.

  • ||

    Here's a question:

    What if, aside from the policeman pulling the "recklessly weaving" driver over, and asking, "Are you okay?" there was no further legal entanglement?

    It's heretical nonsense, I know, but... just ponder such a world for a moment.

  • ||

    You mean the officer might, well, help the driver? Maybe if the driver made a bad decision to drive the officer might help get the driver home rather than collect revenue for the municipality and publicly humiliate him? You know, like the officer does when the chief's wife has too many Chardonnays? Heretical indeed!

  • ||

    Are the cops riding unicorns in that world?

    Your legal regime is designed for a world populated solely by angels, P Brooks. Just because a driver thinks he or she is OK does not mean he or she is.

  • ||

    This actually still happens - there are a few decent cops left who understand that their duty is to protect and serve rather than trap people who have had two 6 oz glasses of wine in two hours. Calling a driver's husband to come pick her up and take the keys doesn't collect revenue, though.

    Tends to happen in areas where there is a possibility of real, actual crime occurring - go figure.

  • ||

    Calling a driver's husband to come pick her up and take the keys doesn't collect revenue, though.

    That's not what P Brooks was proposing. Actually, doing that would be pretty coercive itself, as it requires detaining the driver on the side of the road, towing the vehicle, etc. Less coercive than throwing her in jail, but still.

    Also, it eliminates the deterrent that DWI enforcement creates. You can bet that person is going to drive drunk again once they realize the consequences are so minor.

  • ||

    When a cop gives me a warning for a tail light being out, there's a record that I was warned about it. If I don't have it fixed two weeks later, I'll get pulled over again and ticketed. Guess what, when people get such warnings they usually take them pretty seriously.

  • ||

    And, of course, we find ourselves wandering blindly in an impenetrable thicket of self-generated idiosyncratic definitions.

    That's what makes the internet fun!

  • ||

    And- one last thing, before I go to the grocery store.

    When did we get to the point where a policeman's primary function in life was arresting people?

    When I was a kid,

    *pauses as all and sundry roll eyes*

    on more than one occasion, a policeman stopped his car, rolled down the window, and yelled something which boiled down to, "Hey you obnoxious little hoodlums! Knock it the fuck off!", and then rolled up his window and drove away.

  • Laben||

    Why don't organizations like MADD take all that crazy money they collect and invest it in a program like this: determine the cities or areas with the highest likelihood of drunk driving. Put money into free shuttle buses or vans that run every fifteen minutes or half an hour around the said area to drop of patrons at or near their homes. Or charge a small fee with the ride. Most cab rides for the average drunk dude at the bar in my area cost upwards of 30 to 40 bucks. That's kind of pricey for a short ride home. A program like this may be very feasible. Any one have any thoughts?

  • ||

    A stated previously, MADD's intent is not safety but prohibition.

  • ||

    I'm not going to defend the farce that MADD has become in latter years, but the program you propose would have the effect of rewarding drunken driving.

  • ||

    The operative question, I mean if you're not a member of the Ladies' Anti-Saloon League like Tulpa, is whether it woulsd decrease the chance of accidents caused by intoxicated drivers - you know, what we're all purportedly up in a lather about.

  • ||

    It rewards drunk driving because people in the city that drinks and drives the most get the free shuttle, while a more responsible city doesn't. Pretty much the definition of moral hazard.

  • ||

    Wait, so you think people would drink and drive more out of a collective desire to win their city a free shuttle bus? Really?

  • ||

    Who is getting the "reward" for drunk driving? The individual who avails himself of the shuttle and, you know, doesn't drive drunk?

    It's becoming quite clear that you are a Victorian and a teetotal singly motivated to punish those of us who don't share your view of the moral dangers of demon alcohol.

  • ||

    And here come the ad hominem attacks. Have you posted as "Van" in a former life?

    To a rational person, it would be clear that I'm not against alcohol per se by my support for designated driving arrangements mentioned above.

  • Kat||

    This proposition represents a designated driving arrangement, and would benefit places that have a lot of sprawl and lack the public transpo infrastructure of a big urban area.

    I understand your argument, but I doubt people in an area are going to band together and say, "Let's all start driving drunk so we can get the free drunk shuttles in this town!"

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Most cab rides for the average drunk dude at the bar in my area cost upwards of 30 to 40 bucks. That's kind of pricey for a short ride home. A program like this may be very feasible. Any one have any thoughts?

    I think you're significantly underestimating how much something like that would cost.

  • Some other guy||

    I realize I'm late to the party, but the real problem here is that in many peoples minds, people who drive with a BAC of 0.01 are just as negligent as those who are over .1
    In my neck of the woods, even if you are under the limit of 0.08, but over 0.01 you will have your license suspended for 24 hours.

  • ||

    you will have your license suspended for 24 hours.

    Your neck of the woods sounds pretty retarded. I could produce a 0.01 BAC by eating a big bowl of fruit and letting it ferment in my stomach for an hour or two.

    And what purpose exactly is served by a 24hr suspension? Just keeping you off the road till you're sober again?

  • Some other guy||

    Just keeping you off the road till you're sober again?>
    Pretty much. The shrill disagreeable voices go on about "we have to hammer home the message that there is no tolerance for drinking and driving".

  • ||

    Time to start some drinking I can actually enjoy, so you'll have to excuse me for the rest of the night.

    HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!

  • Ray ||

    I passed a field sobriety test after I had put away quite a bit of alcohol once, and the cops weren't sure what to do since the smell was so obvious and I had admitted to having "a few." Fortunately this was almost 20 years ago, and this subject was alive then, but not to a fever pitch just yet.

    And I've noticed the cell phone thing as well. Even with a hands free call, part way through my call I realize that I haven't been noticing half of the things I would normally observe.

    The only impaired condition that would be difficult to catch would be the mildly sick, and the sleepy. Once you're pulled over your adrenaline spikes a bit, and you're no longer sleepy, and even the effects of a minor flu will be diminished significantly.

  • DaCuckoo||

    They could solve it a few ways if they were serious. Ban parking lots at establishments that serve alcohol. They could similarly just station cops in the parking lots of each nightclub and run their "DUI Checkpoints" in the parking lot. BUt that would end nightclubs and the cat would be out of the bag. I'm with Radley 100% on this one, as usual.

  • db||

    DUI threads always suck the worst, result in no agreement, bring out the worst logical fallacies, and represent a ridiculously high opportunity cost of normally interesting commenters' posting capacity.

    What a shitty way to end the H&R year.

  • ||

    I'll try to pace myself better in the future.

  • ||

    "But Officer, I had to drive, I was much too drunk to walk!"

  • hmm||

    I have to agree with db. Whoever made that call needs a thrashing.

  • Typical American||

    I have nightmares of drunk drivers hitting me head on every night. It makes it so hard for me to sleep. Even at work I can imagine the high-beams hitting me in the face, along with the drunk driver's car, the drunk's non-seat-belted body flying through my windshield, along with his half-empty bottle of Jack Daniels.

    I'm so scared it makes me wet myself, a little. Please government, save me! We need checkpoints at every intersection and a firing squad to enact punishment.

  • Drunk||

    Head-on: Apply directly to the head.
    Head-on: Apply directly to the head.
    Head-on: Apply directly to the head.
    Head-on: Apply directly to the head.
    Head-on: Apply directly to the head.
    Head-on: Apply directly to the head.
    Head-on: Apply directly to the head.

  • Al K. Duh||

    Head-Off: Apply directly to the infidel.
    Head-Off: Apply directly to the infidel.
    Head-Off: Apply directly to the infidel.
    Head-Off: Apply directly to the infidel.
    Head-Off: Apply directly to the infidel.
    Head-Off: Apply directly to the infidel.

  • ||

    Your legal regime is designed for a world populated solely by angels, P Brooks.

    Poor, poor Tulpa- it never ceases to amaze me how much you fear and despise your fellow man.

  • ||

    I completely agree with this article, and especially the end about punishing reckless drivers v. just drunk drivers. However, here in MN it is ironic that if a drunk driver goes to court with a BAC around .09 or even up to .12 the prosecutor will often offer a reduced charge of... reckless driving. Yet the DMV penalties are nothing for a reckless driving, and as noted in the article, quite harsh for a DUI.

  • ||

    Criticizing MADD is a lot like criticizing Israel. You can't do either without being called a child-killer.

  • Doc Merlin||

    I thought criticizing israel was the new national past-time. I see people on blogs do it constantly over everything, even in cases where Israel is in the right.

  • ||

    Strange, considering all the Palestinian children Israel has killed. (Not in the wacky "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" fashion, just the same population warfare everyone else does)

  • CatoTheElder||

    Like the war on drugs (WOD), the the war on drinking and driving (WODD) is a prosecutor's dream. The nature of the crime is such that it supplies all the necessary evidence to assure conviction. This high conviction rates with very little work along with lots money from fines, asset forfeitures, and bribes of various sorts. The WOD and the WODD have been enormous successes.

  • ||

    The virtue of focusing on BAC is that it is a black-and-white standard. If you allow cops to bust people for "impairment", everybody becomes "impaired", pharmaceutical substances, lack of sleep, or not, when there is a quota to fill. I have a brother who was a designated driver, did not drink a drop. When the cop pulled his van over, full of people who reeked of bar, the police officer was visibly angry at not being able to get a DUI bust.

  • Apogee||

    when there is a quota to fill.

    The operative word. Again, "public safety" has simply become an excuse for state revenue generation. When it's all about money, then procedures that increase safety at the expense of revenue are discarded in favor of procedures that generate the highest revenue.

    In time, safety doesn't matter as much as control, because that's where the money is to our modern day Willie Suttons (yes, I know he denied saying that). Everyone's a criminal, and consequently everyone's an ATM.

    Maybe someone should suggest eliminating the revenue portion of the operation. Increased safety and efficiency, all at the same time.

  • ||

    How are you going to fund law enforcement after removing fines as a source of funding? Raise taxes?

    Even better. Not only do sober drivers have to share the road with drunk drivers, now they have to pay extra taxes so drunk drivers don't suffer financially for their putting me at risk.

  • ||

    Bake sale?

  • hmm||

    I approve of this message.

  • Apogee||

    How are you going to fund law enforcement after removing fines as a source of funding? Raise taxes?

    You do realize that you've proven my assertion - that this is all about raising revenue and not public safety.

    Perhaps we should pay 'bonuses' to the military for each pound of explosive used (powder, plastic, nuclear). That couldn't possibly lead to more skirmishes, now could it?

    The greater the financial incentive for the judicial system, the greater the incentive to find 'crime' where there is none - especially where there is none, as those people are usually the ones with money.

    Remove the profit motive and make it actually about public safety and you'll lower costs and improve efficiency - because that's all that system can afford.

  • ||

    Everyone's a criminal, and consequently everyone's an ATM.

    Everyone doesn't drive drunk.

    All it takes to thwart this evil government plan is to be careful how much you drink and how long you wait before driving. Or even better, recruit a designated driver and get as drunk as you want.

  • Apogee||

    Shorter Tulpa: Just do whatever the gubmint says and you'll be just peachy.

    Read 3 felonies a day and get back to me, you fucking criminal.

  • Edwin||

    I can't believe so many people can deliberately convince themselves to be so stupid. I mean, are you listening to yourselves? Drunk driving should be legal?
    Try not to force a belief because you think it follows some objectively derivable philosphy that if only people could see it, we could all get along fine, and just use your gut, your common sense. Should people really be allowed to drive drunk? Are they really not encroaching on other people?

  • Tim||

    You seem not to have thoroughly read the article.

  • Edwin||

    you seem to have not thoroughly read the comments

    and still... the article's proposition is stupid. Having a perfectly objective standard, even if it might be too low, is a good thing - people need to know what's illegal before they do something, it's a basic aspect of freedom. Remember how we celebrate that whole "magna carta" thing? We don't celebrate it 'cause it's got a nice name...

  • Tim||

    Except BAC isn't an objective standard of either drunkenness or impairedness. It measures the degree to which your body has metabolized alcohol, not the degree to which the alcohol is making you drunk. Put another way, if the law uses BAC as a standard, drunk driving is currently not against the law. Bad metabolisms are.

    Moreover, those defending BAC on the grounds of objectivity are confusing objectivity with quantifiability. There are any number of objective, articulable facts that could be used in a court of law to prove a person is impaired: inability to walk a line, slurred speech, erratic driving behavior, etcetera. The only difference between these and BAC is that you can't affix a set of numbers to them. While these numbers may make it easier for the cops to get a conviction (and who wouldn't want that? What's a little essential liberty when temporary security is at stake?) they hardly grant some kind of objectivity to the proceedings that other cases don't have simply because we can't quantify a felon's murder-level or rape-quotient.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Yeah, great idea bringing up rape as an example, one of the greatest historical sources of wrongful convictions because they were so often based on subjective eyewitness testimony.

  • ||

    Put another way, if the law uses BAC as a standard, drunk driving is currently not against the law. Bad metabolisms are.

    It's the presence of alcohol in the blood that causes impairment. So BAC is quite well-correlated with impairment.

    Yes, people with faster metabolisms are going to sober up faster than those with slow metabolisms, all else being equal, but that's not the law's concern. Like they say, know *your* limit.

  • Edwin||

    no law is going to be perfect. The overall effectiveness of a law matters. That little breathalyzer is quick. Doing the old impairment tests will take a lot longer. BAC is good enough, regardless of douchebag libertarian claims of people still being to drive just fine at .08. *Here's a hint: I don't care if you aren't THAT impaired if you're driving - if you're driving on a road I'm driving, I don't owe YOU any leeway in being impaired, nobody needs to drink and drive, and you're risking my life.

  • Tim||

    Again, you miss the point of the article. The .08 test is not going to get all the impaired people off the road, because there exist those who will be impaired below .08.

    Never have I seen so many people try to argue against testing the actual thing they want to prevent in the name of preventing it.

  • Captain Obvious||

    What's so wrong about weaving in and out of lanes, if I'm not hurting anyone? Shouldn't weaving be legal too?

  • ||

    The right of the people to travel about shall not be infringed.(Bill of Rights)
    There is no crime w/o a victim or property damage (Constitution)

    Yall can't argue with real libertarians,constitutionalists,or realists.

    Enjoy your police state, all the while sayin "It just isn't so...

    If competence was a requirement the cops would not be on the road.(or anyone else)

  • Fatty Bolger||

    The first should be in the Constitution, but is not. It's been enforced by the courts by expanding various clauses, but is unfortunately not actually spelled out in the Constitution. I have no idea where you got the second.

  • Erin||

    I agree that police should focus on poor driving and not on an arbitrary standard of intoxication such as BAC. Texting, eating, and disciplining the children while driving contribute to crashes and unsafe driving. Texting, apparently, is even more dangerous than alcohol when it comes to impaired reaction times.

    However, if a cop cites a motorist for unsafe driving caused by texting, the motorist can put the phone away and immediately become a safer driver. If a cop cites a motorist for unsafe driving and the motorist is impaired by alcohol or drugs, that motorist can't make the substances in his system simply go away. Were the cop to release him, he would continue driving while impaired and continue being a danger to others.

    For all of you who agree with Mr. Balko: How would you propose handling cases where the impairment can't simply go away? Call a friend or a cab and leave your car on the roadside? Drive slowly with your hazards on while the cop escorts you home or to the nearest parking lot to sleep it off?

  • Fatty Bolger||

    That's similar to the problem with the "one for the road" argument Radley made. What if on your drive home, you're caught in a traffic jam caused by an accident? By the time you're through it, that drink would have kicked in and now you really are impaired. Now what?

    The argument against sobriety checkpoints is very strong on both principled and utilitarian grounds, and stands on its own. That's where, in my opinion, the focus should be.

  • Erin||

    I agree. At least where I live, sobriety checkpoints are set up during holiday weekends like St. Patrick's Day, Cinco de Mayo, Memorial Day, etc. As I'm sure you know, serious drinkers refer to these holidays as "amateur nights." Checkpoints like these divert huge amounts of resources to catch a few buzzed amateurs, but do nothing to deter the serious drinkers who know better than to party in public with the rest of the unwashed masses.

    Catching the seriously impaired will always be a matter of good judgment and individual policing.

  • ||

    Impairment should apply to those on cell phones, texting and those on many medications. Good luck with that. Look at the bottle of some medication when it says don't operate heavy machinery and a car is just that!

  • Erin||

    How do you define "impaired?" Most people would say it means to have difficulty performing an activity that can be done at an average level by an average person. The terms "hearing impaired" and "physically impaired" come to mind. For example, we are ALL hearing impaired and physically impaired compared to Superman, but most of us would not be considered impaired when compared to the average person.

    Therefore, if someone can meet the average standard for performing an action, he should not be considered impaired. This is why teenagers are allowed to get drivers' licenses. They are poor drivers if you compare them to 40-year-olds, but they meet the basic standard of competence set by the state.

    If...and this is a big IF... If a person can talk and text and still meet the basic standard of competence, he should not be considered impaired. If a person can have a few drinks and still follow the rules of the road, he should not be considered impaired. Impairment occurs when a person performs at a below-average standard.

    However, a person driving at a below-average standard because of texting can become a better driver simply by turning off the phone. A person driving at a below-average standard because of alcohol or medication CAN'T instantaneously remove his impairment. What should we do about those people?

  • Neu Mejican||

    Your definition of impaired is accurate, but it does not include only "following the rules of the road" as the most telling aspect of impairment is the ability to react to the unexpected, which may have nothing to do with "the rules."

    A person texting or a intoxicated person may both be able to follow the rules, and still be dangerous due to the difficulty of properly reacting to an unexpected situation. In this sense the ability to "take away" the impairment by turning off the phone doesn't really matter (as pointed out above in several places).

  • Erin||

    If "proper reactions to unexpected situations" were part of the minimum standard of competence, it would be tested when a person goes to get his driver's license. However, I don't recall getting tested at the DMV on evasive maneuvers, underwater escapes, or icy skids (but how cool would that be?!).

    The fact is, plenty of crashes involving non-impaired drivers are caused by unexpected situations such as black ice, hydroplaning, and even deer jumping into the road. Drivers do not need to demonstrate the competence to handle these situations before receiving their licenses.

    Furthermore, I know of no driver - except perhaps a professional auto racer - whose sole focus is the road ahead of him and the cars around him. Music, food, phones, kids, and pets in the car distract the average driver every day. Even police officers are distracted by the squawking of the dispatcher radio and the giant computer sitting on the console (Have you ever seen a cop trying to type and drive at the same time? I have).

    The truth is that people are capable of driving proficiently with a certain amount of distraction - and yes, a certain amount of inebriation as well. This is why bars have parking lots. The *causes* of dangerous driving should not be made illegal simply because someone's behind the wheel; if they were, we would be prohibiting not only alcohol, medication, and cell phones but drowsiness, anger, radios, kids, pets, and food as well. Sound ridiculous? I hope so. The reasons for dangerous driving - whether it's caused by distractions, alcohol, or general incompetence - shouldn't matter. Instead, we should focus on punishing people for the dangerous driving itself.

  • Neu Mejican||

    If "proper reactions to unexpected situations" were part of the minimum standard of competence, it would be tested when a person goes to get his driver's license.

    You misunderstand the point. What is impaired by alcohol involves two things:

    1) Executive functioning - i.e., the ability to plan and make good decisions.
    2) motor skills including reaction time and coordination of behavior.

    When someone is impaired PART of the impairment is a lesser ability to deal with the unexpected. This means that a situation that WOULDN'T create a problem for the unimpaired driver WILL create a problem for the drunk driver.

    The unexpected for the drunk may result from impairment 1) resulting from not predicting as well, but even if the event is one that no one would have predicted, the unimpaired driver can handle the situation better...that is part of competence.

    You are making a classic error in conflating competence with performance. Performance is what is primarily impaired by alcohol. Not competence.

  • Neu Mejican||

    That should read...

    "that is not part of competence."

  • Neu Mejican||

    Instead, we should focus on punishing people for the dangerous driving itself.

    I would argue that driving drunk is inherently dangerous (for all the reasons I have already mentioned). That is the logic that underpins current drunk driving laws.

  • sevo||

    "I would argue that driving drunk is inherently dangerous (for all the reasons I have already mentioned).
    1) Executive functioning - i.e., the ability to plan and make good decisions.
    2) motor skills including reaction time and coordination of behavior."

    And the same could be said of, oh, driving while pissed at a girlfriend.
    What you ignore is that the effects of either of those circumstances are already illegal, and ought to be controlled.
    So should we test someone to see if they're driving under the influence of a breakup?
    You, and other bozos, confuse the effects and the presumed causes of them. And, as a statist, are more than willing to use the power of the state under the presumption that something will happen.
    Fail.

  • Neu Mejican||

    sevo,

    the effects of either of those circumstances are already illegal, and ought to be controlled.

    Not sure what you mean here. The question of the day is whether the criteria should be "impaired" or "BAC 0.08." The premise is that BAC 0.08 does not mean "impaired." But, really, there is lots of evidence that it is a pretty good proxy for impaired. The "look for dangerous behavior" method of prevention is less likely to work as it can't account for the lowered reaction time/executive functioning deficits that make driving drunk dangerous. It is also far more arbitrary than the one you seem to prefer...essentially giving more power to the state (as has already been discussed).

    Ounce of prevention beats a pound of mitigation after the fact.

  • Neu Mejican||

    It is also far more arbitrary than the one you seem to prefer...essentially giving more power to the state (as has already been discussed).

    Talk about your executive function deficits. Shouldn't have had that last beer.

    Okay. Let's try that again.

    It is also far LESS arbitrary than the one you seem to prefer...WHICH IS essentially giving more power to the state (as has already been discussed).

  • Why That's Stupid||

    "And the same could be said of, oh, driving while pissed at a girlfriend."

    Irrelevant. BAC can be objectively tested for. You shouldn't be driving if you're pissed to the point of risking serious harm to others, FYI.

  • ||

    In California, cops have a bad habit of manufacturing infractions to provide "probable cause" for a sobriety stop.

    For example, if there is a stop sign that EVERYONE rolls and they can set up where they can watch you roll it before you can see them, that's where they will put the sobriety checkpoint.

    That way there is no problem if they find you over the BAC, but of course this means that everyone gets a ticket. Win-win.

  • ||

    But every cop manning a sobriety checkpoint aimed at catching motorists violating the new law is a cop not on the highways looking for more seriously impaired motorists.

    What ticks me off about this whole business is that police set up roadblocks under the premise of checking "sobriety", yet there's a very real chance that someone going through one who hasn't even had one sip of alcohol can be ticketed for something else, like say a burnt-out bulb, or a missing front license plate. (yea, I'm in CA)

  • rhhardin||

    Before the 70s, drunk driving wasn't a public problem, but rather a personal moral failing.

    The route to political power is defining a public problem, and taking ownership of it. Enter MADD.

    A history from a sociologist's point of view, "The Culture of Public Problems: Drinking-Driving and the Symbolic Order," by Joseph R. Gusfield.

    He has a couple of follow-on books too. A good writer, like Goffman.

    It's useful to learn that society got along fine without the hysteria.

    How? Drinking and driving isn't actually all that simple.

  • ||

    ""It's useful to learn that society got along fine without the hysteria.""

    I think the country would fair better in the long run if students had to say that 10x instead of the Pledge of Allegiance.

  • ||

    The punishment is even stiffer, and more disproportionate, for people who have specific jobs. If you are a police officer, a judge, a doctor, etc., your entire career could be jeopardized by a single DUI arrest, regardless of whether or not you posed an actual hazard to anyone!

  • Apogee||

    If you are a police officer, a judge...

    You're asserting that there will actually be an arrest in those situations.

  • Why That's Stupid||

    Because if you enforce the rules, you have a greater obligation to follow them. It becomes hypocritical when the enforcer does not follow what he enforces upon others.

  • ||

    If they were serious about reckless driving, they would disarm the zoning laws that forces us to drive to the butcher, the bar, the bakery and the candle stick maker.

  • ||

    Sounds like some really good advise to me dude!

    www.anon-web-tools.edu.tc

  • Wesley G||

    The problem is that there has to be measurable proof of wrongful behavior. "He was driving erratically" doesn't hold up in court. Drawing arbitrary lines is absurd, but necessary in our justice system.

  • ||

    The greatest dangers on the road are speed and non conformance to lights and signage. In the end it will be the physics of force that kills people not the drugs in one of the operator's blood. The current drunk driving laws do not take this into account and unfairly punish impaired driving. A sober person running through a red light will suffer a lesser penalty than a impaired person operating within the all other road rules yet who is stopped at a checkpoint.

    Drunk/impaired driving should be illegal but the penalties should be changed to reflect the style of vehicle operation rather than be based on pure hypothetical risks.

  • Why that's Stupid||

    "In the end it will be the physics of force that kills people not the drugs in one of the operator's blood."

    No shit sherlock, but the drugs still increase the risk.

    "A sober person running through a red light will suffer a lesser penalty than a impaired person operating within the all other road rules yet who is stopped at a checkpoint..."
    just as it should be because the impaired person is still more likely than the other one to cause harm after being pulled over for running a red light.

    The risk of ONE intoxicated driver is hypothetical but it's fact that more impaired drivers on the road will increase the frequency and severity of road accidents.

  • Chris Taylor||

    Here here. alas it will never happen because the objective is NOT justice and safety. its revenue.

    My only problem with your logic is the sleepy issue.

    Sometimes this hits you when you least expect it. to be a crime there needs to be intent.

    now if you stay up 15 hours driving a rig to me thats the same thing as driving drunk. YOU KNOW whats going to happen if you do not take precautions.

    but is tiredness hits you suddenly and for no apparent reason (almost got me one day Wide away discovered "hot chocolate" puts me to sleep like a tranquilizer gun.

    Now I know not to drink hot chocolate when I need to be awake. but if something were to happen how can it be called a crime? how could I know? how could I prepare for something like that?

    there NEEDS to be intent. otherwise everything you said is spot on!

  • Why that's Stupid||

    It doesn't matter what the objective is. The results matter.

    People know what to do to stay alert. If you're that worried tiredness will hit you out of no where, then carry a stimulant drink in the car.

  • ||

    I agree with Mr.Balko about demonizing rum or any other chemical that us humans use to "feel different". But these Blood Alcohol Content levels are not arbitrary. Eveyrone is driving impaired at a .12 or above BAC. There were very many scientifically sophisticated studies using precise methods of measurements in regards to the alcohol consumed and the "street conditions". In fact many of the studies used the best NASCAR drivers of the time as well as regular guys like me. No one takes a 90 degree right turn with the "accuracy" one should have when he or she is above a .12 BAC Actually, you are giving cops more "arbitray" power when you focus on behavior than using proven BAC that is taken from breathalyzers. Yes, there is human error at all levels of enforcement and that is why many folks contest their cases in court. In fact some contest the case when they were drunk as hell!!! God Bless America and all that. I am only saying that alcohol is an objective drug and I do not want to see the BAC legally impaired level go lower than .08 But through pure science, NO ONE drives as well at above a .12 as they do stone cold sober.

  • John McMahon||

    Over 40 years ago, a "random number generator" ignition interlock was unveiled for cars. 5 digit number displayed for a few seconds, then you have a few seconds to type it in. Car won't start if you can't. Does not care if due to sleepy, drunk, drugs, rage, stupidity, or anything. Has emergency overridesthat engages flashing lights & horn + speed governor. Why don't we have these? Would free up the cops. Probably due to lesser fine money. $$$$$$$: the actual driving force behind many laws.

  • Why that's Stupid||

    If you can't type it in because you're sleepy, angry, or whatever then your not functional enough to drive anyways.

  • Libertarianism is Stupid||

    "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 sobriety checkpoint 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."

    OR...we could require the police to conduct roaming patrols. Then those who could function wouldn't be caught while those drunk on a low BAC would still get caught.

    Just because a law isn't perfect doesn't mean abolishing it should be our first option.

  • e-book||

    Should breathalyzers be the gold standard? Well those devices do not detect alcohol. No, they detect a class of chemicals, a number of which can easily lead to a false positive. In addition, as Radley pointed out, most manufacturers of these devices refuse to release the proprietary source code that would show how the device works. You see a breathalyzer is by no means an extremely accurate way to determine a persons BAC.

  • ||

    All these comments and not one reference to Dr. Johnny Fever and the state trooper.

    Tsk, tsk, tsk.

  • shootguns||

    i love libertarianism. so not only can i slam a cute 13-year-old girl, now i can slam a cold brew while driving? hell yea. LOL.

    p.s. libertarians are statists. voluntaryists are not.

  • ||

    Shootguns,

    Your understanding of libertarianism is puerile.

  • ||

    I couldn't agree anymore than has already been stated. In the state of MD., it is nothing but a revenue generator along with speed cameras. Please notify me of any person running for political office seeking to abolish this practice by the federal and state government so we can form an organization to reclaim our rights.

  • ||

    People are missing an opportunity here by critizing this. If it's done properly, an objective ability test is possible. Hire engineers and psychologists to develop a series of tests and make sure they document it on the dashboard video camera. To make this fair, a "missing" video tape could be an automatic aquittal under the law.

    If these things are done, this would not only have the effect of legalizing driving those very *few* drunks whose abilities are unaffected (or in very rare cases, improved) by drinking (They exist. I rarely drink myself, certainly never while driving, but i've seen people like this.)

    It might also have a side effect of affecting marijuana legalization, under the same logic as the above, for various sativa strains which do not impair (some indica strains, however are not safe to drive with, but most people wouldn't want to anyway as they would be locked to a couch watching crap tv eating cheetoes). Don't believe me? Watch this:

    http://www.break.com/userconte.....igh-339007

  • hair wefts||

    hair wefts/hair bulk/european hair can really give you a very good look but you should be thoroughly aware of its pros and cons. People who have very feeble hair or no hair can go for hair plantations or permanent hair expansions but those who just want a new look or long hair can use the temporary methods. Ibeautyhair.com

  • ||

    Correction: "...a significant factor in a case where the difference between 0.80 and 0.79 for a first offense can mean $1,000 or more in fines, mandatory alcohol awareness classes, and loss of driving privileges for up to a year."
    Should read as .08 and .079, a significant difference as a BAC over .40 will cause death.

  • ||

    I don't care what people think about me. I can't go out and have a few drinks without worrying about being pulled over. If I have 2 drinks in an hour and I get pulled over you consider me drunk. Do you think I'm going to kill someone after 2 drinks? HONESTLY --- NO! Discipline the people that kill people and leave the rest of us ALONE!

  • قبلة الوداع||

    thank u

  • ||

    Stacy illustrates the problem with libertarians and drunk driving laws: no grasp of the amount of alcohol involved. An 150 pound person needs four beers on an empty stomach to just reach .08. In reality, by the time you drink the fourth beer your system has probably eliminated the first. Two beers with dinner will not get you arrested, even if you are tiny. More people need to have the opportunity to drink and then drive on a simulator. Most people would not even consider driving over .04, forget .08.

  • ||

    Balko is a good guy, but there is an abuse of statistics here. How about this one: there are X driving deaths a year- what % of driving deaths (or serious injuries) involve alcohol, or other intoxicating substances? People are pretty darn good drivers when they are not impaired.

    Don't confuse prohibition issues with driving safety issues. MADD sometimes HAS been prohibitionist, and I disagree with that. However, the fact that some anti-drunk driving advocates are actually anti-alcohol advocates does not mean that the drunk driving laws are prohibitionist.

  • billo||

    The problem is that there's no good measure of "impairment" that corresponds to a probability of an accident. Standard psychomotor tests of impairment do not test driving habits. For instance almost *all* people over the age of 60 are "impaired" in terms of those tests, but these people do not have a higher accident rate. Older people develop compensatory driving habits. Similarly, similar "impairment" while under the influence of alcohol as opposed to marijuana are associated with radically different probabilities of accidental injury.

  • mbt shoes outlet||

    outlet

  • wubai||

    How about mbt kisumu sandals this one: there are X driving deaths a year- what % of driving deaths (or serious injuries) involve alcohol, or other intoxicating substances? kisumu 2 People are pretty darn good drivers when they are not impaired.

  • qiaofeng||

    outlet

  • qiaofeng||

    outlet

  • xiaofeng||

    outlet

  • jiusuan||

    outlet

  • cajia||

    outlet

  • zhidao||

    In reality,lebron 9 for sale by the time you drink the fourth beer your system has probably eliminated the first. Two beers with dinner will not get you arrested, even if you are tiny. More people need to have the opportunity kobe 7 cheetah for sale to drink and then drive on a simulator. Most people would not even consider driving over

  • susan||

    ddddddddd

  • Nike Shox NZ||

    ddddddddd

  • Dunks SB||

    ddddddddd

  • jiekou||

    jiekou

  • nike shox r3||

    jiekou

  • Lebron 9 For Sale||

    so good!

  • Nike Shox||

    good

  • a||

    The problem is that lebron 8 christmas for salethere's no good measure of "impairment" that corresponds to a probability of an accident. Standard psychomotor tests of impairment do not test driving habits. For instance almost *all* people over the age of 60 lebron 9 christmas for sale are "impaired" in terms of those tests, but these people do not have a higher accident rate

  • a||

    The problem is that lebron 8 south beach for sale there's no good measure of "impairment" that corresponds to a probability of an accident. Standard psychomotor tests of impairment do not test driving habits. For instance almost *all* people over the age of 60 lebron 9 south beach for sale are "impaired" in terms of those tests, but these people do not have a higher accident rate

  • lebron 9 for sale||

    good

  • kobe 7 all star for sale||

  • kobe 7 all star for sale||

    but these people do not have a higher accident rate. lebron 8 south beach for sale Older people develop compensatory driving habits. Similarly, similar "impairment" while under the influence lebron 9 for sale of alcohol as opposed to marijuana are associated with radically different probabilities of accidental injury.

  • fantasy||

    impairment" that corresponds to a probability nike shox tl3 of an accident. Standard psychomotor tests of impairment do not test driving habits. For instance almost *all* people over the age of 60 are "impaired" in terms of those tests, oakely sunglasses but these people do not have a higher accident rate. Older people develop compensatory driving habits

  • دردشه عراقية||

    Thanks

  • رش مبيدات||

    And the greatest travesty of all? Judges and prosecutors know of all these problems inherent in the devices. Yet in most states, not only will they not let a defendant use these fact as a defense, they will not even allow any mention of problems, acting as if they do not exist. And why? Because without their 'bright line' BAC, proving a driver was drunk becomes much harder. They also know that any reasonably intelligent jury will realize that the breathalyzers use to obtain their most sacred piece of evidence are essentially crap. So while there may be no in-justice in setting a BAC, the primary method used for determining that is overflowing with injustice.
    شركة تنظيف فلل بالرياض
    So people, learn the laws in your state and NEVER submit to a breathalyzer. The actual penalty for not taking it is often only marginally bigger. For example in The People's Republic of Maryland, where i live, the difference between being charged with a DUI and taking the test and not taking it is an additional 30 day suspension of the license. An 95% of offenders end up getting a provisional paper license for the purpose of getting to work etc. You see, they still need the DUI offenders tax dollars.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement