Why Government Shouldn't Lower the BAC Bar for Drunk Driving

It's a utopian goal requiring excessive compulsion in the pursuit of unattainable perfection.

In its new report on how to reduce drunk-driving deaths, the National Transportation Safety Board states its goal in the title: "Reaching Zero." The agency thinks it is irreproachable to try to ensure that no one ever dies in an alcohol-related accident. In fact, it's a utopian goal requiring excessive compulsion in the pursuit of unattainable perfection.

The NTSB is dissatisfied by the rate of progress against drunk-driving deaths. It makes much of the fact that the percentage of traffic deaths involving intoxicated motorists has been stuck at between 30 and 32 since 1995. But that figure masks improvement.

911 Bail Bonds Las Vegas / photo on flickr911 Bail Bonds Las Vegas / photo on flickrBetween 1982 and 1994, the total number of people killed in crashes involving a driver who was impaired dropped by 37 percent. In the time since, the figure has declined by 26 percent. Things are getting better -- just not as quickly as before.

The earlier progress came after states lowered the blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) for driving under the influence from .10 to .08, raised the drinking age and adopted a "zero tolerance" rule for drivers under age 21. With the most potent changes already in place, public safety improvements have gotten a bit harder to come by.

One study found that lowering the BAC standard has saved some 360 lives a year. So the agency concludes that we should lower it all the way to .05, which it figures would save from 500 to 800 lives per year.

From the standpoint of individual behavior, that would be a significant change. A 180-lb. man could be legally impaired if he had three drinks in an hour (versus four drinks today) while a 140-lb. woman could earn a set of handcuffs with just two drinks in an hour (compared to three under the current rule).

NTSB says .05 makes sense because driving performance is affected even before a motorist reaches .08. That's undoubtedly true. But all sorts of factors affect driving performance, from medications and lost sleep to missed meals and electronic distractions. Not every possible impairment warrants criminal punishment.

As it happens, drivers whose BAC is higher than .01 but lower than .08 account for only 5 percent of all highway deaths. The agency estimates that a motorist with .05 BAC is 38 percent more likely to crash than one who is stone-cold sober. That sounds like a lot until you realize that someone with a .08 BAC is nearly three times more likely to be involved in a wreck than an abstainer. At .10, the risk is nearly five times greater.

Not that a 38 percent increase is trivial. But is it worth the cost to prevent it? Nothing in law enforcement comes free, and resources expended on enforcing a lower limit are resources diverted from other worthy purposes.

Under a tighter BAC, the same number of cops will be chasing a lot more offenders. An officer who is busy arresting someone with a .05 level, who poses a small danger, will not be able to arrest someone with a .10 or .15 level, who poses a huge danger.

Forgotten in these number-crunching exercises is the effect on the trivial matter of human spontaneity and enjoyment. NTSB may place a zero value on the pleasures of social drinking, but social drinkers don't. In any cost-benefit analysis, the loss of a largely harmless pleasure deserves inclusion.

Not only that, but the cost of a stricter policy is greater than it may appear. When you lower the limit, you deter not only forbidden levels of consumption but permissible levels. Why? Because most people don't care to be anywhere close to the line.

They don't travel with Breathalyzers and want to be absolutely sure of not being arrested for DUI -- which carries not only legal penalties but social disgrace. If this were a constitutional right, we'd be talking about a "chilling effect."

It may come as a surprise to hear that the organization that deserves much of the credit for raising public awareness of the problem, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, has declined to endorse this proposal. It prefers to focus on greater efforts to enforce existing laws, while requiring ignition interlocks for every DUI offender.

NTSB acknowledges this last policy would save some 1,100 lives per year -- far more than a lower BAC would save. It also has the virtue of disabling the few guilty without inconveniencing the many innocent.

In a free society, trying to reach zero carries too high a cost. Better to settle for making progress.

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  • Rights-Minimalist Autocrat||

    I would read this, but I'm afraid that Chapman's solution would be to require everyone to wear a breathalyzer around their necks.

  • $park¥||

    I would read this but it's kinda long.

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  • some guy||

    I read it, and I can verify that that is not his solution. Now you can read it.

  • Rights-Minimalist Autocrat||

    Eh...no.

  • ||

    [Mothers Against Drunk Driving] prefers to focus on greater efforts to enforce existing laws, while requiring ignition interlocks for every DUI offender.

    NTSB acknowledges this last policy would save some 1,100 lives per year -- far more than a lower BAC would save. It also has the virtue of disabling the few guilty without inconveniencing the many innocent.

    Well, RMA was close enough.

  • some guy||

    DUI offenders are a very small sub-set of "everyone".

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    There are so many variables that go into driving in general that these studies groups cite are meaningless. Balko has the solution.

  • Libertymike||

    Any "study" funded by, even in part, an individual or group looking for more money from the state or more power, is junk.

  • Rich||

    I presume you're referring to Radley's proposal to abolish drunk driving laws.

    "Simply" punish reckless driving.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    That's very presumptuous of you. And correct.

  • Rich||

    Serious question, Fist: How should reckless driving be punished?

  • Pro Libertate||

    Tie the wrongdoer to the hood of a car and drive 90 mph for twenty miles?

  • robc||

    By a judge pronouncing the sentence?

  • kinnath||

    No blood, no foul.

  • some guy||

    Indeed. A sober guy who's blood is up because of an altercation as he was leaving the bar is probably going to be more impaired (due to distraction) than someone with a 0.08 BAC.

    I think the biggest problem with the Balko solution is that reckless drivers often only reveal themselves in an accident.

    My solution would be to privatize the roads and let the road owners figure out the best approach.

  • KDN||

    My solution would be to privatize the roads and let the road owners figure out the best approach.

    Two approaches to changing DUI laws:

    1. Testing - Everyone's default tolerance is .05 BAC but they can certify higher tolerances by taking the identical road test they passed to get their licenses while drunk. The downside here is that it'll be costly to implement as the instructors will demand massive amounts of hazard pay.

    2. Penalty Enhancement - Drunk driving is not a crime in and of itself, but the presence of alcohol is used to make penalties for other violations more severe. Example

    0 - .05 - Standard penalties
    .051 - .10 - double fines and points
    .101 - .15 - triple fines and points
    Etc.

    The only issue here is that you'll have to blow whenever you get pulled over, which is kind of annoying.

  • yooper||

    #1 I've said it for years, you should get a "stamp" on your license for the blood level you're "good for" .Daily I see "sober" people that cannot manage to drive in a parking lot , much less the road. then add texting and smart phones to the equation. so who's a danger? but the mad mothers would have a fit

  • Pro Libertate||

    Instead of AI to drive, we should have AI that stops us from doing dumb things. Maybe with an arm that swats you if you're texting, drunk, arguing, getting oral sex, sleeping, etc.

  • ||

    Not to get too far off topic, sg, but could you explain how road use would be paid for after you privatize them? Not getting up in your face, but I'm curious as to people's perceptions on how this could be done. Tolls? I can't come up with a scenario that doesn't include MASSIVE companies/corporations (which potentially means monopolies) and makes a transition from the current system problematic.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    "Not to get too far off topic, sg, but could you explain how road use would be paid for after you privatize them?"

    I assume if they're private somebody has bought them...what's to pay for? Are we selling the right to put asphalt on the ground in certain places or ribbons of land that would be nice to have roads on? The whole thing is confusing.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    oops...I missed "use"

    Isn't it up to the dude(s) that owns the road to make the decision how he wants to be compensated for using it?

  • some guy||

    There's plenty of literature out there on the subject that can do a better job than me. The main point is that no one person knows the best answer, but the market would figure it out. Of course the market would need freedom to operate, so you'd have to do away with zoning laws so that road companies could actually build roads on land that they own.

    Some guesses: Local roads would be owned and maintained by locals with no tolls. Small regional roads would be owned variously by groups of locals or by companies. Major highways would be owned by large corporations charging tolls. Toll-paying would be handled by a few private "EZ pass" like companies competing kind of like credit card companies do now. With modern GPS tech these companies could help you choose the best route in advance based on time and cost.

  • some guy||

    I should add that political considerations would make transition from the current situation damn near impossible. We'd need a paradigm shift in our politics for to happen, so I don't plan on ever seeing it. Maybe my children will...

  • robc||

    Local roads would be owned and maintained by locals with no tolls

    Especially within an HOA.

  • sarcasmic||

    Law of diminishing returns? What's that mean?

  • Libertymike||

    Sorry, no props for MADD, Chapman.

    Journalistic integrity, imho, dictates that Chapman should have written that, "MADD, predictably, has not condemned this proposal as another outrageous usurpation of individual liberty."

  • John Galt||

    Had MADD existed at the time this nation was being founded, the Founders would have likely headed to the taverns in which the vast majority of the ideals for the American experiment were formulated, had some drinks, and discussed what should be done about the bunch of hags who obviously placed more value on a little temporary security than they do on Liberty.

  • sarcasmic||

    Also, the stats related to alcohol related accidents aren't very honest.

    For example a sober person can run a red light and hit a person who has had a few drinks, and the crash will be blamed on alcohol.

  • some guy||

    Well, the sober person would be found at fault, but the accident would be recorded as "involving alcohol".

  • sarcasmic||

    No, that's not true. The guy who got hit will be given a DUI, and the courts will make him fix the car that hit him.

  • some guy||

    Have you seen a case where this has happened? I certainly can see the DUI and maybe even dual fault, but it's hard to get out of t-boning someone while running a red light.

  • ||

    That's sarcasmic's personal anecdote. Pisses me off every time I read it from him.

  • ||

    Pisses me off that it would happen, I should say, not that he continually posts it (although that could be the case... hmmm :) )

  • some guy||

    Well, now I'm in the awkward position of having to believe someone named 'sarcasmic'. And he's a sot to boot!

  • sarcasmic||

    It happened to me. I was riding my bicycle after a few drinks and some fifteen year old kid who had had his license for a week ran a light and sent me over the hood of his car. Witnesses told the cop how the guy who hit me ran a light and almost hit some cars as well. According to the police report the guy who hit me was minding his own business when I drunkenly (as if .08 is falling down drunk) rode in front of him. So I got charged with DUI (on a bicycle) and had to fix the car that hit me.

  • some guy||

    Ok. That's some shit. Sounds like you fell victim to the "wrong cop at the wrong time".

  • robc||

    Sounds like you fell victim to the "wrong cop at the wrong time".

    Fixed.

  • MacKlingon||

    If you have several witness's, otherwise blame the drunk is standard.

  • sarcasmic||

    I had witnesses. Didn't matter.

  • John Galt||

    Most recently, a good friend in Phoenix was T-boned by an undocumented citizen who ran a red light.

    Maybe my friend should have lied when he was asked the standard "have you had anything to drink" question that's always asked after an accident. He told the officer the truth, he had stopped and had a couple beers after work.

    Well, he passed the breathalyzer test, and was arrested and charged with DUI. The other driver was let go. You should try explaining to him how he wasn't automatically at fault.

    I know dozens of people with very similar experiences from around the nation.

  • John Galt||

    That's absolutely correct, sarcasmic.

    Like any other statistics the government keeps, they're not gathered with any honest research in mind, they're gathered merely to discourage the citizenry should they dare question our ruler's authority.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    Drunk driving should not even be a crime. The act of driving drunk in and of itself is victimless.

  • Rich||

    Perhaps.

    But I *feel* victimized when I have to figure out how to safely pass some asshole who's driving erratically.

  • $park¥||

    In Massachusetts we call that the end of the work day.

  • Hugh Akston||

    That's Mary Stack dude. Don't fall into her vinegar trap.

  • KDN||

    I pass plenty of erratic driving assholes that are sober, too. Punish the erratic driving and use the presence of alcohol to aggravate the penalties; it removes the victimless aspect of the crime while maintaining a deterrent for the risky behavior.

  • kinnath||

    No one gives a shit how you *feel*.

    The only appropriate law is to punish someone that does actual harm to another person.

  • $park¥||

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Bruce Lee is the best! He's the closest thing to a religion in our household.

  • John Galt||

    Exactly, kinnath.

  • some guy||

    The act of waving a gun around in a neighborhood is victimless until you shoot someone or their property. At some point other people have a right to restrain you from doing something reckless.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    "At some point other people have a right to restrain you from doing something reckless."

    Repeal the 21st Amendment!

  • ||

    So couldn't you be satisfied by punishing people for their trespass (IAW the NAP) rather than based on what MIGHT happen?

  • CampingInYourPark||

    I thought he was making a pretty good argument for drug laws

  • some guy||

    I'm not saying where the line is drawn, I'm just saying threats can be mitigated under the NAP. You don't have to wait and then react after the threatened action happens.

    I mean, if someone points a gun at you it's okay to shoot him before he pulls the trigger, right? Well what if my friend is trying to get in a car right after doing 6 shots of vodka? Can I use violence to stop him from driving off based on the threat he poses to anyone else on the road? Or do I have to wait until he causes an accident?

  • CampingInYourPark||

    "I mean, if someone points a gun at you it's okay to shoot him before he pulls the trigger, right? Well what if my friend is trying to get in a car right after doing 6 shots of vodka? Can I use violence to stop him from driving off based on the threat he poses to anyone else on the road? Or do I have to wait until he causes an accident?"

    In either case, shouldn't a court decide if your perceived threat was justified? If people using cars violently against other's property or person were treated in the same manner as using a gun violently, do you think it would change behavior while drinking...or texting...or falling asleep while driving?

  • some guy||

    Of course a court should be involved. I'm not supporting the current status quo, I'm just saying that if someone presents an imminent threat to innocent people you can use reasonable violence to stop them without violating the NAP.

  • ||

    Is anyone really surprised by this? You know how many people disagreed with me when I predicted this would happen, when I was arguing the reduction from .1 to .08? Well, lots.

    This is why you NEVER give a fucking inch. This is why you don't agree to "reasonable gun laws" and universal background checks. The slippery slope fallacy isn't a fallacy most of the time.

  • $park¥||

    "I *warned* you, but did you listen to me? Oh, no, you *knew*, didn't you? Oh, it's just a harmless little *bunny* *reduction*, isn't it?"

  • ||

    Its got nasty, big, pointy teeth!

  • Almanian!||

    Look at the BONES!

  • Rights-Minimalist Autocrat||

    The slippery slope fallacy isn't a fallacy most of the time.

    I say something along these lines, a lot. Nobody believes me, despite bullshit like bans on 17 ounce sodas.

  • Rasilio||

    Usually the slippery slope is only a fallacy when there are elements of some other fallacy present.

    For example with gay marriage the slippery slope was that if we legalized gay marriage then it would lead to legalizing incest, pedophilia, and bestiality.

    The problem is that in at least 2 of these cases they are implying a false equivalency in a marriage of 2 consenting adults and sexual relations between 1 consenting adult and a second entity which is incapable of giving consent.

    So while legalizing gay marriage could lead to legalized incest it could not in and of itself lead to legalized bestiality or pedophilia

  • $park¥||

    while legalizing gay marriage could lead to legalized incest

    Hetero marriage hasn't lead to legalized incest, why would gay marriage? That seems like a weird point.

  • Rhywun||

    Yes, but so-cons trot it out every time.

  • robc||

    However, leading to legalized polygamy is a legit slippery slope argument.

  • ||

    Fine. I'm all for polygamy as well.

  • ||

    This is actually just an artifact of inflationary journalism.

    Today, virtually every fatal drunk driving crash is accompanied by "over twice the legal limit". Under a .05 law, that will change to "over three times" or "over four times".

    It will sell many more newspapers.

  • SweatingGin||

    Also just every story involving alcohol. Frat boy taken to hospital and recovering. BAC was twice the legal limit.

    Wait. He wasn't driving. Legal limit for what? Legal limit for sleeping it off on his couch?

  • Zeb||

    That one is always funny. As if the legal defined limit for DUI is somehow a universal legal definition of too drunk.

  • Dweebston||

    I adore this logic. The NTSB throws up a goalpost at .08, observes DUI-related fatalities fall, and estimate that even more lives might be saved at .05, forgetting that the statutory limit as such doesn't prevent drunk driving, it's the multitudinous arrests that deter driving drunk and sometimes even remove legitimately impaired drivers from the roads. Eking out the same effect from .05 would require many more arrests, more cops on the street, even greater intensification of resources, and reducing the standard of living for the majority of Americans.

    Diminishing returns, how do they work??

  • Pro Libertate||

    It's not diminishing returns from the government's perspective. More cops, more funding, more ability to derive revenue from citizens, more opportunity to pull people over and look for other stuff. Win, win, win, win, win.

  • phandaal||

    Winfinity.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Wintense.

  • Rasilio||

    Actually it is worse than that. It is questionable how much impact the drunk driving laws had on road deaths when compared to the social changes pushed through the MADD media campaign.

    50 years ago drunk driving was not even a subject of conversation to most people (even though it was illegal), 35 years ago drunk driving was a joke, 10 years ago it became socially unacceptable and today arrainging for alternate transportation when you are drinking is a social norm.

    It is a pretty safe bet given human behavior in other areas with government prohibitions and strict enforcement that this social change is more responsible for declining drunk driving rates than laws or arrests

  • Zeb||

    10 years ago it became socially unacceptable

    You must be getting old. I think that's more like 20-25 years now.

  • robc||

    Yep. By the late 80s/early 90s it was socially unacceptable.

  • Rhywun||

    Not in my crowd. OTOH those were my college years.

  • robc||

    Mine too. I was thinking "our" generation was the first that came of age in the post-MADD environment. I knew a couple people killed by drunk drivers in HS. The Carrolton bus crash occurred about the same time in KY (25 years and 9 days ago apparently).

    The combination of all of that seemed to create an environment in which it wasnt considered funny any more.

  • robc||

    70% of all DUI fatalities CONTINUE to be from drivers over .15 bac.

  • kinnath||

    Statutory crimes, like drunk driving, destroy an individual's unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These are replaced by a business case that says you can do or not do some things based upon a statisitical analysis on the effect of you actions to "society's well-being". It is unmitigated bullshit.

    It's should be really simple. If you accidentally harm someone, a civil court determines what damages you owe them. If you intentionally harm someone, then a criminal court determines if you committed a crime and if so what is the fitting punishment. If you don't harm anyone, then no one else has a right to complain.

  • ||

    kinnath, just playing devil's advocate here, but how do you get recompense from someone who has no money and no insurance?

    I got ripped off by a contractor recently. Significant sum, $28K. I'd sue him, but he has NOTHING (he's a con man). So I'd pay for the lawyer ($20K), win, and he'd simply never pay me a dime.

    The criminal system won't open a case until I prove I was defrauded/extorted in civil court. So essentially it would cost me an additional $20K to get him thrown in prison (and no guarantee of that).

  • kinnath||

    I don't know. How does anyone recover damages from a person that has no assets?

    I suppose jury nullification is the ultimate safeguard if you would choose to express your frustration in a direct manner to the man who harmed you.

  • kinnath||

    Generally speaking, libertarians view fraud as a crime. One one of the few legitimate functions of the nightwatchman state is to punish those crimes.

    Your problem is the existing criminal system is refusing to do its job.

  • ||

    Couldn't agree more.

    But in your argument, won't uninsured poor people drive drunk to their hearts content, knowing all they face is civil action and you can't get blood from a stone?

  • kinnath||

    I lived in Phoenix during the 80s when 20 or 30 percent of drivers carried no insurance (after Az passed a law requiring coverage). So I had to pay for uninsured driver coverage.

  • kinnath||

    This is not unique to drunk driving.

    Poor people do not have the means to pay for liability insurance to cover all the possible damages that they (or their dependents) might cause to someone else.

    What would you like to do about that?

  • ||

    Apparently, some people, want to make said actions criminal so they can be prosecuted.

    I'm more of, "the world is a dangerous place" kinda guy. Accidents happen to the drunk and the sober. Life ain't fair.

  • ||

    Maybe indentured servitude for a period of time to compensate victims?

  • NealAppeal||

    Sounds like a Seinfeld idea.

  • Zeb||

    I'd add a third category of negligently harming someone. I think that driving drunk could fall under that and be criminal if someone is injured. And it would apply just as much to people driving while putting on make up or reading or texting or falling asleep.

  • Jerryskids||

    In any cost-benefit analysis, the loss of a largely harmless pleasure deserves inclusion.

    Actually, in any valid cost/benefit analysis the loss of any pleasure has to be included whether harmless or not. The pleasure is a benefit, the harm is a cost. That's sort of the point of a cost/benefit analysis - does the cost outweigh the benefit, does the pleasure outweigh the harm.

    Which is the biggest fault with the 'drug use costs society X number of dollars' studies - they never bother to quantify the amount of pleasure received by the users of drugs. The empirical evidence indicates that the drug users themselves value the benefits of drug use more than the costs of using the drugs or they wouldn't use drugs. Clearly drug users think a cost/benefit analysis comes down on the side of benefit.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    I might have read this, but Chapman long ago proved himself irredeemably stupid and not worthy of my time.

  • phandaal||

    I'm not a big guy, so lowering the limit to .05 would probably ensure that I'd be "drunk driving" after two pints of anything stronger than Bud Light, regardless of actual impairment.

    Thanks, NTSB!

  • Acosmist||

    MADD deserves nothing. Not even braking when their members cross the road.

  • ||

    These laws are based on irrational beliefs and phobias, more than public safety.

    Of all the ways that one can impair their ability to drive (i.e., make up, eating, playing with the radio, talking to passengers, etc.), I can only think of two that the government tries to address specifically:

    1. Driving while drunk (religious fundamentalism)
    2. Driving while using mobile phone (fear of technology)

    If you're killed by a woman putting on her makeup, that's an unfortunate tragedy. But, if you're killed by a drunk driver, why, that's a sin, and we've got to get that son of a bitch.

    Even when the government is "trying to keep you safe", it's just a reflection of cultural bias and fears, rather than risk analysis, or cost-benefit analysis.

  • Zeb||

    Yeah. That's my biggest problem with DUI laws. Lack of proportionality. All the things you mention can make a person just as dangerous as a drunk driver, but are punished much less harshly and only if there is an accident.

  • mr lizard||

    Just look at how many times DUI, a misdemeanor, has made it to the supreme court. How many legal hours are behind this law. Also why are breathalyzers the only scientific measurement instrument on the planet that has "no error"?.

  • Zeb||

    I don't think that they claim that breathalysers have no error. That's why they try to get blood, and you have the option of a blood test yourself.

  • Robert||

    Why does the NTSB care about the percentage of traffic deaths involving...anything? You could always "improve" that number by increasing the number of traffic deaths not involving whatever factor.

  • Zeb||

    Something has to be the number one killer.

  • ||

    They care because when only 1/X of people on the roadway are DUI, BUT a much higher fraction of fatal/collisions INVOLVES DUI's then it stands to reason that by decreasing DUI's we decrease fatal.

    A dui driver has a much higher %age of being involved in a fatal collision (and that includes victimizing an innocent) than a NON-DUI driver. That's what those stats prove. We want to disincentivize people from engaging in behavior that is more likely to result in dead innocents.

    DUI laws do that.

    Even driving sober, for most people, it's the most dangerous thing they do on a daily basis in terms of risk of death. The average joe is WAY more likely to die of a traffic fatality than from homicide, shark bite, drowning, etc. etc.

    It makes sense to isolate the kind of drivers that create the MOST danger and pass legislation to disincentivize those behaviors.

    Which is what we have done and which has WORKED.

    Traffic safety is one of the greatest success stories in american history

    again, in the 60's, traffic fatality rates were FIVE TIMEs as high as they are now. That's astounding success and it's the most important kind of success there is - lives being saved

  • ||

    And once you've improved public safety by 50%, you'll ask for another 50%.

    I'm MORE than plenty safe now.

    Fuck off, slaver!

  • ||

    Shocker that Dunphy supports something that gives cops more power.

    Percentages are complete and utter bullshit to base anything off of. If the percentage was 36% with 60million drivers and now it's 32% with 100million drivers, that means even more people are driving safer now compared to then.

    And you know it's possible that those fatalities have dropped because cars have more safety features and our culture has changed in the last 50 years right?

  • BiPolarMoment||

    Fatality rates down = DUI Laws work?

    It certainly couldn't be influenced by any of these:
    - Tire rubber/construction improvements
    - Brake improvements
    - Invention and use of seat belts
    - Invention and use of air bags
    - Invention and implementation of energy dispersing construction (i.e. crumple zones)
    - Suspension improvements

    Fuck, lets rip those out and cut the cost of a car by 75%.

  • Matrix||

    Instead of just lowering the BAC level, why not just ban alcohol? Has no one ever thought of that before? It would work perfectly! Then you would not even have to worry about BAC, because no one would ever drink!

  • anon||

    the National Transportation Safety Board states its goal in the title: "Reaching Zero."

    So they're going to ban driving?

  • ||

    The studies I have read show substantial support, iow a REASONABLE basis for a limit of .08.

    While it IS true, that impairment is seen at lower levels, imo from the studies I have seen, there is not enough on average to justify lowering the prima facie level.

    The system aint broke. Aggressive enforcement of the .08 limit and also states passing felony DUI for multiple offense DUI offenders, etc. have WORKED to make our roadways substantially safer (the stats are astounding. We are talking thousands of lives saved).

    Let's stick with the system that works. Fwiw, there are a few countries with much lower prima facie limits than ours. It may be instructive to compare highway safety stats with them and try to isolate the low BAC as a factor and see if it has made their roadways much safer than ours.

    For all but the frequent drinker, .08 is pretty "buzzed". We used to drink and then use the breathalyzer at the PD for fun. I was actually kind of surprised how buzzed .08 was. Moreso than I would have thought. But then, this was my post-college (lightweight) phase. For a college kid in a fraternity and drinking a few nights a week, .08 is just the warmup to the night.

  • ||

    Either way, bright line limits (age of consent, drinking age, age to carry a firearm, bla bla bla) are always SOMEWHAT arbitrary. The .08 limit is actually, since it's based on NHTSA etc. studies LESS arbitrary than age of consent or drinking age or age to smoke or a lot of the other bright line age limits we take for granted. To its credit.

    I say, unless you can present some compelling studies (and I'm all ears and eyes), let's stick with .08. I also support "aggravated DUI" statutes where higher levels such as above .15 or whatever are more serious crimes. Iow, DUI first degree, 2nd degree, etc.

    For kids under 21, it's "zero tolerance" DUI which means .02 or above = DUI, btw in my state.

    And hopefully, more people will smoke pot and drive vs. drink and drive now that pot is legal, since the studies are overwhelming that pot is less deleterious to driving skillz, and also harder for cops to detect :!

  • anon||

    The studies I have read show substantial support, iow a REASONABLE basis for a limit of .08.

    Of course, you've already accepted the premise that government should rule us all. Asshole.

  • ||

    No, i accept the premise that driving on public roadways is a privilege, not a constitutional right, and that society should (and does) set limits on how people drive - speed, DUI, etc.

    Every society on earth does this and every rational human being understands the rational basis for DUI etc. laws.

    The adults over here are discussing where the limits should be set, etc. cost/benefits balancing, etc.

    Petulant children like you are questioning the very idea of god forbid DUI laws and public safety laws that save thousands of lives every year.

    Your chance of fatal collision is 1/5 the level it was just several decades ago. Part of that is due to aggressive DUI enforcement

  • robc||

    I dont accept the premise of government property.

  • EdwinNJ||

    Roads aren't government property, they're public property. Everyone has a right to use them and they cannot ban you from them just because they want to, like it would be with private property. Developers, after building a road, literally "deed" (the technical word is "dedicate") the road to the public. The government is only supposed to take care of/maintain the roads, (and "dedications" refer to the gov in this way).

    The only thing that would be "stealing" would be the libertarian scheme of "privatizing" roads. The minute someone owns those roads, and it's his personal property, he can actually ban me from them if he feels like it and I also completely lose any voting rights over how they should be governed. This would unavoidably be stealing, and you'd be stealing from the entire populace something that can't really be replaced by money and is way more important, the ability and right to travel very proficiently.

    The only "stealing" part in the current system is the tax-funding, and the lack of real voting rights to control said money (but that's more a problem of our being a republic rather than a democrCY. We need more referendums)

  • Acosmist||

    Post hoc ergo propter hoc. QED! /dunphy

  • ||

    How is driving drunk different than putting your makeup on, texting, being tired, or trying to make sure your kids don't kill each other in the backseat?

    What's that, they're all fucking dangerous while driving? Well then maybe they should all be treated equally.

    And fuck you for being a smug asshole who thinks he's the only adult "talking".

  • anon||

    Plus, there's already "reckless driving," which covers -all- of the aforementioned activities.

  • Alice Bowie||

    In NY State, the Limit is already .05.

    We have .08 as full DUI (Misdemeanor)
    We have .18 as aggravated DUI (Felony for 1st offense)
    We have .05 as DWAI (Municipal Violation)

    ALL OF THE ABOVE is reported to NCIC in NY State. That is, you will be denied employment, entrance to Canada, the ability to rent a car for 36 months regardless of a .05 or a .50.

    I do not drink alcohol. I feel that .08 is ridiculous. But .05, one might as well NOT have a SINGLE DRINK at all and DRIVE. I guess this is the goal of the NEO-Prohibitionist.

  • Alice Bowie||

    And by the way, this is only applicable to those of us that are not police officers.

    Not only are police officers rarely, if ever, arrested at DUI check points, in the rare occasions that they are arrested, they simply waive their right to a Trial by Jury and generally get acquitted by a Judge.

    Good to know a Cop or be one in our world.

  • ||

    Careful Alice, Dunphy will accuse you of being a bigot while condescendingly explaining the totality of the cercs (or some such bs) so that your tiny little mind can understand them.

  • Gray Ghost||

    Agree with Alice. Growing up in a cop's household, you'd be stunned (or, then again, maybe not) at the number of cops I personally witnessed driving home from a get-together while shitfaced.

    I have never seen professional courtesy in action when applied to LEO DWI. I have seen it for speeding tickets. (And heard about it, and heard of inter-agency vendettas when one agency dared to cite an officer from another one.) I think it's a reasonable inference that the above officers wouldn't be driving home while 'faced if they didn't think that similar courtesy would also apply in their case.

    This was ~25 years ago, FWIW. On the one hand, now a days we do get cases of officers getting rung up for DWI.

    And on the other hand, getting excused for shooting guys while drunk. Yes, a 30-day suspension counts as an excuse when you take a life.

    Also, getting your fatality accident blamed on the other, sober, driver who entered the frontage road, as you are racing down it at 95 mph in your personal car, on the way to a call, while you're having a BAC of ~0.25. The other driver spent over 12 months in the Harris county jail awaiting trial for reckless driving before being released to ICE.

    So, I think Alice has a point.

  • Redmanfms||

    I've seen professional courtesy exercised for both, to the point that a friend who was giving me a ride was arrested for reckless driving after we were hit by a drunk cop while stopped at a red light. Both cars were totaled. Coppy-poo was quickly and quietly rushed off in a squad (from the banter it seemed like they gave him a ride home) and my friend was arrested for reckless driving.

    When I asked the officer how he could have been the reckless party when we were stopped at a red light and the other driver was clearly inebriated, I was arrested for obstruction of justice.

    I've known many, many, many people who've gotten out of tickets (including some pretty substantial fines/possible arrests/license suspensions, like a 97 in a 70) because a relative was a cop.

    And dumpster is a fucking weasel who will end up face down in a ditch if there is any fairness in this world.

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  • AlgerHiss||

    Great video on DUI checkpoint. Guy tells them to get bent:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIupHbRTpb8

  • Peter||

    This has the same junk science vibe as the push to eliminate salt from the American diet.
    If a driver with a BAC of .05 is 38 percent more likely to crash, what is the percentage for drivers talking on a cell phone, tuning the radio or simply being inattentive?

  • Behart||

    Mr. Chapman, as an advocate for traffic safety, I read your comments about the recommendation by the NTSB to lower BAC levels to .05 with great interest. You mentioned that you think that the cost of trying to reach a zero death rate exceeds the benefit of the effort. Are you implying that we have reached what you consider to be an acceptable casualty rate when it comes to alcohol involved highway deaths? You say that low BAC level drivers “only” accounts for about 5% of alcohol related highway deaths. If my math is correct, that is 500 people every year you are writing off as not being worth the effort. Why should we accept any number of deaths at the hands of the impaired driver? Drinking and driving is the most preventable worldwide traffic safety issue in history and it is a problem that is completely avoidable. If you drink, don’t drive. I am not in favor or prohibition. I am not against the pleasures of having a drink with friends or while having a meal but if lowering the BAC level to .05 means that I can only drink two glasses of wine an hour instead of three while out at dinner or with friends, I for one am willing to make that sacrifice. You talk about self moderation and personal choice. I have seen the effects of personal choice. Quite frequently it is lying on the pavement or in the eyes of a parent who is being told their son or daughter is not coming home. I agree with the NTSB recommendation and I “don’t care to be anywhere close to the line.”

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