Alcohol

Science Group Calls for a National Crackdown on Booze to Achieve 'Zero' DUI Deaths

A new report calls for a coordinated federal, state, and local crackdown on all drinkers.

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drunken driving
Oleg Dudko / Dreamstime.com

A new report issued last week by the National Academies of Sciences, Getting to Zero Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatalities: A Comprehensive Approach to a Persistent Problem, urges a host of draconian measures in an effort to eliminate every alcohol-related driving death in the United States.

The NAS report suggests that policy approaches expand dramatically from their present focus, preventing drunk driving, "to also encompass reducing drinking to the point of impairment"—the latter, in other words, targeting all drunkenness.

Getting to zero, in the report's estimation, means a host of nefarious, neo-Prohibitionist approaches to alcohol regulation, including "lowering state per se laws for alcohol-impaired driving to 0.05% blood alcohol concentration (BAC) [from 0.08%, the law today in most states], preventing illegal alcohol sales to… already-intoxicated adults, strengthening regulation of alcohol marketing, and implementing policies to reduce the physical availability of alcohol." It also calls for stepped-up sobriety checkpoints, which can be constitutionally questionable.

The means the report recommends to achieve its unrealistic goals are both obnoxious and intrusive. In the case of reducing the physical availability of alcohol, for example, the report recommends specifically that state and local governments restrict the number of establishments allowed to sell alcohol and reduce "the days and hours of alcohol sales[.]" Among its key recommendations, the report also calls for the federal government and state governments to "increase alcohol taxes significantly."

Dr. Steven Teutsch, chair of the NAS committee that authored the report, admits that eliminating every one of America's more than 10,000 annual alcohol-related driving deaths "sounds like an overly ambitious goal."

It doesn't just sound overly ambitious. The study's title, along with its stated "goal of zero alcohol-impaired driving fatalities" and most of its contents, smacks of bluster, much like previous White House efforts to end poverty or to rid America of childhood obesity—each purportedly capable of being accomplished, at the time of their announcement, "within a generation."

Some members of law enforcement have voiced support for the NAS report's recommendations, particularly for reducing the blood-alcohol threshold to 0.05%.

"I would agree with it," an Ohio sheriff, Larry Mincks, told the local Marietta Times, speaking of the report. "Any amount of alcohol can affect you. I'm a believer in no drinking and driving whatsoever."

Bar owners disagree.

"I think it's going back to the days of the prohibition," said Mary Eddy, a Marietta tavern owner.

Even some law-enforcement officials are skeptical.

"I'm not sure lowering the limit is an effective way to lower deaths from alcohol-related accidents," said Marietta Police Chief Rodney Hupp.

"If our ultimate goals are to reduce driver impairment and maximize highway safety, we should be punishing reckless driving more consistently," wrote former Reason editor Radley Balko in an excellent 2011 article. "It shouldn't matter if it's caused by alcohol, sleep deprivation, prescription medication, text messaging, or road rage."

Drunken driving is a serious problem. I support stiff penalties for those found guilty of driving drunk. But if drunk people shouldn't drive, then sober lawmakers also should not dumb down the term "drunk" so much that it loses meaning and puts anyone who's had a sip of alcohol before getting behind the wheel of a vehicle in the crosshairs of law enforcement.

Despite the fact that most of the NAS committee report's recommendations are both unrealistic and potentially harmful, it's not entirely devoid of reasonable recommendations. For example, it recommends that cities expand transportation alternatives, including allowing smartphone-enabled ride sharing services like Uber.

As I detailed in a 2015 column, "restricting adult access to alcohol is a farcical and failed policy." The disastrous period of alcohol Prohibition in this country led to violence, law-breaking and disrespect for the law among previously law-abiding citizens, and widespread production and consumption of stronger alcohol beverages. Reports like the one issued by NAS last week, which seek to inch us back toward the awful era of Prohibition, are nonstarters.

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  1. Too bad we can’t read the actual report without making a $94 contribution to the publisher. Also, the report is a “consensus study report” which sounds a lot like it will be long on “so many of the city planners interviewed thought X”, rather than “a graph of fatalities vs. tax per proof-ounce shows… with R-squared = ….”.

    i.e. NAS has sold out on this subject to the prohibitionists / nannystate. (Not that that should be too shocking.)

    1. NAS… phuegh! Let’s unleash a bit of the Captain, who provides greater clarity in his wildest daze: “I’m gonna booglarize you, baby! If I can find a place to park my machine out of town…”

    2. I’m making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life.

      This is what I do… http://www.startonlinejob.com

  2. Self-driving cars are going to make this a quaint memory in about 5 yrs

    1. meh. Self-driving cars aren’t ever going to be 100% self-driving within our lifetimes without widespread changes/upgrades to road infrastructure, and that obstacle itself makes forcing through those changes difficult without huge consumer demand from the bottom up.

      its sort of a chicken/egg problem. Unless lots of people want the tech, the infrastructure won’t evolve. But lots of people simply won’t adopt the tech until its feasible on a wide scale. so…

      I think there will be limited markets where it is a thing. within cities/MSAs which develop their own lanes for commuters/taxis, etc. but i think integrating ‘self-drivers’ alongside regular automobiles will expose some unexpected shortcomings.

      in short, i think the car ‘aint broke’, and self-driving isn’t a ‘fix’ for any huge latent consumer demand. i think it will be a thing, but it will integrate/evolve far more slowly than some assume it will simply because its ‘possible’.

      1. Teslas are functionally self-driving on existing infrastructure. (At least, once they’ve mapped the road – which just means that someone in a Tesla’s already driven that stretch and the results were recorded by the network.) Exactly what “widespread changes/upgrades” do you think are necessary?

        By the way, personally I will disagree with your assessment of the latent consumer demand. If Teslas were available at a more reasonable pricepoint (and from someone that I actually thought could stay in business long enough to support the maintenance warranty), I’d give up my keys in a heartbeat. And my mother-in-law would pay rather handsomely to get her ability to travel back. It’s not going to be for everyone but there’s plenty of latent demand.

        1. This, tons of people would prefer to spend their morning commute catching an hour more shut eye. Latent demand is there. The question is will technology be able to meet it.

          1. The vast majority of people who have an hour-long commute have access to public transportation for it.

        2. Tell that to the poor firetruck

        3. Teslas are self-driving as long as there isn’t a stopped obstacle in their path. Lane assist and gap management is not self-driving.

    2. Self-driving cars are going to be popular tight up until the moment that 10,000 copies of a particular model suddenly exhibit the same bug in the middle of morning rush hour, causing the worst traffic pile-up in automotive history. Then they will be illegal.

      1. Yep.

        ‘A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any other invention with the possible exceptions of handguns and Tequila.’ –Mitch Ratcliffe

        1. To err is human. To repeat the error 10,000 times a second requires a computer.

      2. Meh. Self-driving cars don’t have to be perfect. They just have to beat the human average. So I think they’ll be fine.

      3. Self-driving cars are going to be popular tight up until the moment that 10,000 copies of a particular model suddenly exhibit the same bug in the middle of morning rush hour, causing the worst traffic pile-up in automotive history.

        So don’t buy the ones made by Intel…

      4. For a single computer bug to do that is unlikely enough to call impossible. For a hacker to do it on the other hand is much more likely unless they really start focusing on security a lot more.

    3. So… silicon valley will be bringing us the drunk-mobile! Well then, one last engineering challenge: when the owner passes out inside after bar hopping… how is the vehicle to act, when the direction to ‘go home’ doesn’t happen but the neighborhood screams “leave”? Being in a parking lot at 5am outside a bar is by itself probable cause when it closed 3 or 4 hours ago, especially when faceplanted on the side window all slack jawed.

  3. The means … to achieve its unrealistic goals are both obnoxious and intrusive.

    Which could be said about pretty much every social-engineering-by-govt project.

  4. Well hell, it’s been a hundred years, why not? — George Santayana, never

  5. Nothing worse than fucking do-gooders. They will put you in chains “for your own good.”

    1. Well, except maybe do-badders who put you in chains in order to torture you.

      1. Almost nobody thinks they are a do-badder. Even Islamist terrorists believe they have the full authority and righteousness of Allah on their side. They are do-gooders within their moral universe.

        As for ordinary criminals, C.S. Lewis was of a different opinion than you. I’m typing on my phone so it is difficult to go look up the exact words from The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment, but Lewis was of the opinion that robber barons are better than do-gooders because at least their appetites to persecute may be temporarily limited by various factors.

      2. Almost nobody thinks they are a do-badder. Even Islamist terrorists believe they have the full authority and righteousness of Allah on their side. They are do-gooders within their moral universe.

        As for ordinary criminals, C.S. Lewis was of a different opinion than you. I’m typing on my phone so it is difficult to go look up the exact words from The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment, but Lewis was of the opinion that robber barons are better than do-gooders because at least their appetites to persecute may be temporarily limited by various factors.

        1. “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

          I believe that’s the quote you were looking for. Definitely not phone typing friendly.

          1. Thanks!

        2. “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

          I believe that’s the quote you were looking for. Definitely not phone typing friendly.

    2. Nobody needs to get drunk with car keys around, allowing them to rocket down public streets in multi-ton vehicles.

      It’s not a right, you know.

      1. I do, and it is.

      2. The prohibitions suggested have little relation to that. The 0.05 BAC will simply serve to ensnare more people who are not dangerous. The sales restrictions and taxes limit everyone’s freedoms in service to someone else’s ideology.

      3. The prohibitions suggested have little relation to that. The 0.05 BAC will simply serve to ensnare more people who are not dangerous. The sales restrictions and taxes limit everyone’s freedoms in service to someone else’s ideology.

      4. The prohibitions suggested have little relation to that. The 0.05 BAC will simply serve to ensnare more people who are not dangerous. The sales restrictions and taxes limit everyone’s freedoms in service to someone else’s ideology.

      5. Fuck no, not another “nobody needs” bullshit argument. You know what else nobody needs? Nobody needs a free society. Funny thing, when you start defining shit by “nobody needs”, a free society is something you can’t possibly have, by definition. I think you automatically throw trust in the shitter as well but that’s ok because nobody needs it.

        1. Nobody needs anything but air, water, food and shelter. All else is bourgeois luxury.

          1. I think the “needs” folks ought to study Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Everyone’s so focused on the top levels that they don’t even realize that they will starve if their financial support is terminated.

    3. Woodchippers

  6. Would not lowering the limit increase drunk driving?

    1. Well, it would increase the number of people the state deems guilty of drunk driving

      1. Most importantly, it’ll increase revenue!

        1. Yeah, cuz it’s so easy to work and pay taxes from prison…

  7. I can see what your saying… Raymond `s article is surprising, last week I bought a top of the range Acura from making $4608 this-past/month and-a little over, $10,000 this past month . with-out any question its the easiest work I’ve ever had . I began this five months/ago and almost straight away startad bringin in minimum $82 per-hr

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  8. Congress mandated air-bags, and before that seat belts. Why not just mandate that all cars have ignition interlock devices? No more drunk driving.
    Oh, yeah…no more DUI-related income for the state. I see the problem now.

    1. “Why not just mandate that all cars have ignition interlock devices? No more drunk driving.”

      It’s been proposed. From what I gather, the persons proposing it have been gently taken aside and shown the numbers for false-positives on such devices, and had the concept ‘massive successful wrongful death lawsuit” explained to them.

      I suspect that something similar is going to happen to he ‘lower the blood alcohol number’ idea. If they go through with that, at some point somebody is going to successfully force them to demonstrate IN COURT that the common non-invasive forms of blood alcohol test are meaningfully accurate at that level….and so far as I know they aren’t. They aren’t really accurate enough to justify the current level, but so far the prohibitionists have managed to avoid the issue in court. But legislating another change will make that harder.

      1. I’ve heard advice that if I was ever pulled over while on the border of 0.08% to ask for a blood test. It’ll probably take about an hour and will let another 0.02 clear.

        It’s a paradox though, because the breathalyzers aren’t nearly as accurate, so they have a chance of showing a false negative.

  9. This is why we should never have scientists run things; they tend to an overweening arrogance.

    Engineers, OTOH, have to actually make shit work, so they have a healthy respect for the potential errors in their plans.

    I am an engineer.

    1. The pure science elitists wouldn’t even have indoor lighting, much less an electron microscope, if some engineer hadn’t designed it.

      Relevant XKCD. Be sure to hover over the image for the alt-text.

  10. Authoritarian: “We can’t stand by and allow this epidemic of ____ deaths to sweep across the country for one moment longer. We have to do something.”

    Libertarian: “We’ve already tried that approach. It didn’t work.”

    Authoritarian: “Pardon?”

    Libertarian: “Remember alcohol prohibition?”

    Authoritarian: “…”

    Libertarian: “Oh, for…”

  11. As I type this comment, and as you read it, progressives and people of faith are in their different ways planning your and my destruction, and the destruction of all the remaining liberties we should all be willing to die to protect and enshrine.

    1. Hey did you hear about the dyslexic, agnostic, insomniac? He stayed awake all night wondering if there really was a Dog.

    2. True. Yet when I point this out and call for some united action to rid ourselves of this threat I am excoriated here. Like I’m crazy for pointing out the obvious.

      1. No Free Speech For Progressives

        #Antipr

  12. “It also calls for stepped-up sobriety checkpoints, which can be constitutionally questionable.”

    I was stopped by one of these checkpoints and had to wait in line for 30 minutes while the asshole cops checked everyone. I had just worked a 16 hour day and was on my way home to get a little sleep before getting up to do the same thing again, so the 30 minute wait made me furious. That was the moment when my contempt for police turned to actual hatred.

    1. Don’t waste your energy hating the police. Hate the idiots who give them their orders; the parasites known as ‘politicians’.

  13. Some communities shortened yellow light times so people get more tickets for running red lights. Lowering blood alcohol level requirements sounds like pretty much the same thing.

  14. and implementing policies to reduce the physical availability of alcohol.

    They get that the ingredients, sugar and yeast, are pretty much everywhere, right? Meh, who knows maybe they also lost their ice recipe. That said, it might do wonders for marijuana sales and/or opioid deaths.

  15. If you want to eliminate DUI related deaths, raise the BAC for DUI from 0.08 to 45%. No DUIs, no DUI related deaths. Problem solved.

    Option number 2: Outlaw cars completely. No cars, no ‘D’ in DUI, no DUI related deaths. After all, driving is a privilege, not a right. Problem solved. This option will be enthusiastically supported by the global climate warming change crowd!

    Option number 3: LEAVE US ALONE!!!!

  16. Here is another idea along the same lines. We should reduce felony theft to $1 dollar to stop all bank robberies.

    The problem is not people that have a beer with a burger and then drive home. The problem is the person pushing .30 with no license, no insurance and multiple arrests. Changing the law to .05, .03 or .01 will not stop this person. If you really want to stop drunk driving you have to figure out how to keep this kind of person from driving period. Prison might be your only option.

  17. Not to mention DUI accident statistics are inflated. If a driver has any alcohol in him and is in an accident whether or not it is that driver’s fault, it is determined to be “alcohol related.” For example, a driver coming home after having a couple of beers with friends, not impaired, is t-boned by an idiot teenager driving too fast, and texting – but with not a drip off alcohol in him. The accident will be added to the roster of “alcohol related” because one of the drivers involved had alcohol in him. The theory being if he was not “under the influence,” he’d’ve been about to avoid getting hit.

    1. That’s right. Prohibitionists are evil lairs and utterly corrupt.

  18. It doesn’t just sound overly ambitious. The study’s title, along with its stated “goal of zero alcohol-impaired driving fatalities” and most of its contents, smacks of bluster,

    Well, government won’t be able to do it, but industry delivering self-driving cars probably will.

    much like previous White House efforts to end poverty or to rid America of childhood obesity?each purportedly capable of being accomplished, at the time of their announcement, “within a generation.”

    Neither technology nor government can cure the stupid.

  19. The entire left wing is turning into a bunch of mutant nazi victorian old woman prudes. We will eventually have to slaughter them to save ourselves from their tyranny.

    1. hopefully that time is coming soon. humanity will benefit from the cleansing.

  20. the ‘consensus’ is that alcohol must be banned… because… think of the CHILLLLDRENNN!

    spare me this oppressive bullshit already

    1. I’ll second that. And as for ‘consensus’… that’s a poltical tool, not a scientific one. The alleged 10,000 deaths figure is most likely a fiction and likely asserts any BAC as causal in all cases, without actual analysis of events. I would be surprised if the real number is anything over 3500 per year. Getting run off the road by a semi forcing a head on with a tree is… the deceased’s fault, for example? It’s Alice in Blunderland time. I wonder what the real numbers are, and will somebody please show the pinheads at NAS that white papers offered up by political hacks are largely disprovable, therefore it is methodology that should be examined first before accepting one assertion or number in the report.

    2. the ‘consensus’ is that alcohol must be banned… because… think of the CHILLLLDRENNN!

      But some of those children wouldn’t even exist if it wasn’t for the alcohol…

  21. Who are these “scientists”, really? Haven’t they noticed absolute zero is a most unnatural phenomenon and is beyond rare? They should also take note of the fact that inconsistency is the hallmark of humanity. And where is the reasonable comparison: does CAFE standards or DUI cause more fatalities on the road every year this past decade?
    This is a pure political agenda, already flogged so hard the founder of MADD quit, as the crusading zeal within the organization took on a life of its own in wilful defiance of the fact the organization had accomplished its original mission [on balance]. The clowns inside the NAS are 40 years behind the curve, so… welcome to planet earth, schmucks.
    As an aside, ‘zero tolerance’ means… zero judgement exercised. You won’t be going to court in the world these goons dream of: it’s judge Dredd territory – whatever the rulebook says, and switch off your brain. That means zero recourse when the ‘masterminds’ make their mistakes, and they will.

  22. Prohibition wasn’t given a fair chance.

    #Resurrect18thAmendment !!!

    /progsaganistfuns

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  24. You only need to do one thing: Make your 2nd DUI a mandatory death sentence by hanging next to a major road. And then leave the body there for the crows.

  25. Were they physicists? This sounds like a spherical horse situation.

  26. Last time I renewed my driver’s license in New Mexico (admittedly, close to ten years ago), there was a poster behind the counter that listed the escalating penalties for repeated DUI convictions. I think the list went up to six or seven.

    So I’ll have to beg “fascist slaver” I suppose, but I think there’s quite a bit of room for increased laws/regulation before we get to “draconian”.

    1. There’s a poster in a local Italian joint that itemizes the total cost of a DUI in my state, now over $10,000 since interlock devices were mandated for first offenses.

      Shockingly, DUIs have not gone down.

  27. I can see what your saying… Raymond `s article is surprising, last week I bought a top of the range Acura from making $4608 this-past/month and-a little over, $10,000 this past month . with-out any question its the easiest work I’ve ever had . I began this five months/ago and almost straight away startad bringin in minimum $82 per-hr

    HERE? ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, http://www.homework5.com

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