Zero Tolerance Foolishness

Monday, December 3rd, 2007

Via my colleague Katherine, a new North Carolina law will strip you of your driver’s license for providing alcohol to a minor. But surely the legislature would have included an exemption for families, right? A beer with dad while watching the game? A sip of champagne on New Year’s Eve?


The penalty is important because many underage drinkers get alcohol from friends or family members, said Craig Lloyd, the executive director of the North Carolina chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

The law means that, theoretically, parents could be punished for giving a glass of wine to their 20-year-old son or daughter, even if the 20-year-old never gets behind the wheel.

Lloyd said that’s not excessive.

“It’s a zero-tolerance policy,” he said. “Breaking the law is breaking the law.”

I know what you’re thinking. Surely authorities would never barge into someone’s home and arrest them for allowing their 18, 19, or 20-year-old son or daughter to have a beer, right?

Well, you’d think. But then, if you’d told me police might come to the home of a minor’s parents at 4 am, wake the entire family, then give the girl a breath test to see if she had been drinking at a party held hours earlier, I’d have been dubious, too.

But it’s happened. Never underestimate the absurd lengths to which the zero tolerance crowd will go to keep your kid stone-cold sober.

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13 Responses to “Zero Tolerance Foolishness”

  1. #1 |  Marty | 

    My mom would put alcohol on my gums when I was a baby teething. Glad she is still with me and not at Rikers serving time. This is nuts

  2. #2 |  William | 

    Does anyone know if the law exempts religious observances? And What happens when you allow your son or daughter to draw a picture of an alcoholic beverage?

  3. #3 |  Bernard | 

    It’s always amused me that europe (in broad terms) is so batty about economic issues and the US (in equally broad terms) is so batty about social ones.

    I dread to think what would happen if the wrong people got together at an international conference and discovered that setting the tax rate to 84% gives you more money to spend enforcing your pet morality laws.

  4. #4 |  Nathan | 

    MADD has been blatantly anti-alcohol for quite some time now. How long until they begin to openly campaign to have the 21st Amendment repealed?

  5. #5 |  Psion | 

    I was raised in a family with Italian traditions, and one of those was a glass of wine with the Sunday dinner; I usually took mine with ginger ale, a habit I may have learned from my grandfather. Sometimes, my dad would offer me a sip of beer with pizza. And every year, the holiday eggnog was “spiked” with brandy or whiskey, and I was allowed to have fairly generous portions of it.

    My parents were loving, compassionate souls who taught me well. When I was a teenager, the fascination with booze many of my under-aged peers felt never surfaced in me, and to this day I find very little interest in any alcoholic beverage beyond a glass or two a week. I do use it a lot in my cooking, though.

    It’s my intention to repeat this success with my little boy. He’s now two, and when he’s a little older, I intend to let him sip from Daddy’s glass when he fancies a taste. MADD and their nanny-state ilk can kiss my ass.

  6. #6 |  Nick T | 

    I agree with Psion.

    Though I have no similar traditions in my family, and never started drinking at all until after high school, I have come to appreciate and enjoy alcohol immensely, and I look forward to the day when I can give my (yet unborn) son his first beer while we watch a Mets game.

    I imagine he’ll be around 12 or 13 when that happens, and not that it would be a regular occurrence from there on out, but I’d like to teach my childen that alcohol is a great and normal part of life, but also something to be done responsibly. I’m positive Millions of other parents do the same thing and someone wants to punish them for this!? Absurd.

  7. #7 |  Mark W. Rutherford | 

    Mothers Against Drunk Driving is now a dangerous, authoritarian, government funded parasitic organization that must be stopped. It’s goal is to run other people’s lives and make them just as unhappy as the members and supporters of MADD. They are about returning to the good old days of alcohol prohibition – even if it means putting everyone in jail.

    Spread the word about this group and its dangerous agenda to your friends.

  8. #8 |  Warren | 

    My mom did the bourbon on the gum thing as well. Of course I’m now a mass-murdering sociopath/lawyer/performance artist so maybe The Old North State is onto something here.

  9. #9 |  Russ 2000 | 

    Mullahs Against Drinking Drinks

    This logic is as insane as saying a glimpse of a woman’s hair causes men to lose control of their sexual urges.

  10. #10 |  Jerry | 

    Russ 2000 – LOL

    MADD is evil and totally have lost their way. It’s time people really understood that their fight is not against drunk drviers, it’s against anyone drinking period. And they can bring out any tragic death (like death in and of itself isn’t tragic enough) as the reason for the draconian measures. Hopefully, the rest of the population will wake up and realize that a wolf in sheeps clothing is still a wolf. And MADD is the worst of the bunch.

  11. #11 |  Zeb | 

    MADD has also managed to link alcohol and driving in all cases, apparently, not just when a driver is drunk. For DWI you lose you license. Makes sense, you did something bad (in theory) while driving. But what the hell does providing alcohol to a minor, or public drunkenness have to do with having a driver’s license? Perhaps they want to take it so it will be more difficult for you to buy the offensive liquor.

  12. #12 |  Leshrac | 

    Lws have become far too punative and zero tolerance is condecending and dismissive of using good judgement and personal rights. Who better to teach children about sex/abortion, alcohol/drugs, etc if not by parents in a family setting. Our dinner table discussions were very educational if not always agreeable. Why not go all the way making provision of ANYTHING to a minor results in jail time, loss of license, fines, madatory stigma with online available registration of offenses (convicted or not). Scared straight parents? Unbelievable. The new scarlett letters. Adults aren’t smart enough to raise children in nowadays. Legally a minor in Ak until 16 for sex or driving, until 19 to smoke, until 21 to drink. Oops, forget all that. You can go die for your country at 17 since we are all mature enough to make that decision before we graduate. Didn’t I read that the military has somehow been given the right to suspend a law to let the underage drink now? Well, at least our fearless leaders are consistantly inconsistant when applying the law as they see fit.

  13. #13 |  Billy Beck | 

    Psion: tell it, man. My German-descended grandfather kept a very active basement machine and woodshop long into his retirement from work as a railroad engineer. Always a busy man, he would nonetheless stop everything every morning at ten o’clock for a small glass of red wine. As children, he included us in his daily wine-break: mixing a bit of red in water so we could sip along with him. My father handed me my first beer when I was fourteen.

    There are no alcoholics anywhere in my family, on either side, all the way out to the furthest cousins I know. We were all raised to understand alcohol from early ages, by responsible adults. This concept is evidently completely opaque to these bloody martinets, who should fall down and bump their heads, instanter.