Abolish Drunk Driving Laws

Monday, October 11th, 2010

I make the case for doing so in this week’s crime column.

I promise to share any resulting hate mail.


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65 Responses to “Abolish Drunk Driving Laws”

  1. #1 |  SamK | 

    Point being you can easily test and establish a 96th percentile “impairment” level for the “average” driver. It’s pretty high as I recall, like 1.4 BAC or something (yes, pulled the value out of my anal extraction table).

  2. #2 |  Cynical in CA | 

    #36 | kriznol — “Cynical in CA: Racist much?”

    The truth happens to be a valid defense, you ignorant fuck.

  3. #3 |  Cynical in CA | 

    #43 | Zeke Hyle — “My girlfriend, a half-Vietnamese daughter of an immigrant, uses (among others) the phrase “DWO””

    Exactly. We share the same sense of humor, I say “DWA.”

    What’s even more amazing is watching Asians cross a street or parking lot. Not one of them ever looks up or both ways. Ever. Just put their heads down and start crossing the street regardless of oncoming traffic. Pure Zen.

    As for me being racist, you’ll just have to ask my two spic neighbors on either side of me, the gooks who live on my block, the ragheads in the neighborhood too, oh wait, don’t forget those junglebunnies — because I live in the most ethnically-diverse city of its size in America. Go ahead and ask the gook and spic friends of my kids while you’re at it too, and the ones who visit my house regularly for card and dice games with my wife and myself.

    Man, people are so fucking ignorant.

  4. #4 |  MPH | 

    As an anecdotal example of how the same levels of BAC have different effects on different people (as mentioned previously), I offer the following.

    My father (a USA citizen) worked for a company that made conveyor systems. He was in their installation and maintenance department. One of the places he went to perform maintenance was a brewery in Canada that made beer for sale in Canada (where the alcohol content limits may be different than in the USA). This particular brewery allowed each employee to have 6 beers, right off the line, at each break, for a total of 18 beers per shift. My father said he was amazed that at the end of the day, he could talk to people who he had seen drink 18 beers in less than 5 hours, watch them walk, operate machinery, and they did not appear to be impaired. At the end of their shift, they drove home. Some had been doing this for over 35 years.

    Of course, what we really need to know is what was these people’s accident rate for the drive home.

    Here in the USA, 18 beers would be about 13 ounces of alcohol, or the equivalent of drinking a quart of 80 proof liquor in the same amount of time (note: a quart – not a “fifth”, or the usual 750 mL bottle liquor, but about 1 L, or almost 1/3 more than a “fifth”). In Canada, where they might not have the 6% alcohol content limit for beer, it could be even higher.

    But I know that if I drank 13 ounces of alcohol in 5 hours like this brewery’s workers do, I’d be unable to talk coherently, and would have trouble crawling on my hands and knees. I know this because the drunkest I’ve ever been I was in this condition, and I had drank quite a bit less than 13 ounces of alcohol – I guess I just need more practice.

    I agree with Radley. Eliminate the penalty for DWI. Just go for the penalty for violating the traffic regulations. Dash cams in police cars will provide the needed proof, and if it was “malfunctioning” and has no such proof, acquittals will encourage both the officer and his department to make sure that “malfunctions” are rare.

    To be honest, if you are yielding when the traffic regulations say you’re supposed to (which is the most important part of driving), staying within the speed limit, using your turn signals, and obeying all the other rules that specify driving behavior, I don’t care if you’re driving while dead. But if you’re weaving in and out of lane, or otherwise being a menace from behind the wheel, I want you off the road, no matter how sober you are.

  5. #5 |  KristenS | 

    One of my fondest wishes is to have the head of MADD arrested for DUI. Fuuuuuck, that would make me so happy!

  6. #6 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    “If the offense were reckless driving rather than drunk driving, for example, repeated swerving over the median line would be enough to justify the charge. There would be no need for a cop to jam a needle in your arm alongside a busy highway.”

    That was a thought provoking article, Radley. I basically agree, with some reservations.

    The subject of alcohol intoxication producing “continuous impairment” has already come up. You answered this objection by noting that driving while sleep deprived, under the influence of prescription meds, or with kids in the car might also cause continuous impairment. You are correct, at least on the sleep deprivation and prescription meds examples. You also added, “and if you want to use BAC after a reckless driving stop to add to the penalty, that’s fine.” That may be necessary, but here is my primary concern: After an officer determines that a subject is “impaired,” for whatever reason, will the officer have the right to prohibit that person from driving. Because, if the officer has to let an impaired person get right back in the car after issuing the reckless driving citation, that would be counterproductive. Obviously, allowing a semi-ambulatory drunk with piss stains on his jeans to continue driving may further endanger public safety.

    Other than that concern, I think you make a strong case for reviewing DUI laws.

  7. #7 |  Stephen Smith | 

    If libertarians spent half as much time attacking mandates and subsidies for cars/roads/suburban sprawl as they do defending the rights of people to drive drunk, well, the world would be a hell of a lot better of a place.

    I’m not saying that .08 laws are airtight, but really, don’t you have anything better to talk about?

  8. #8 |  Radley Balko | 

    I’m not saying that .08 laws are airtight, but really, don’t you have anything better to talk about?

    I write a crime/criminal justice column every week. I believe this is the first one I’ve written in two years that addresses drunk driving laws.

    So yes. I do have other things to talk about. And yes, I do in fact talk about other things. Nearly always.

    I actually think you make a good point, and there’s a niche for a libertarian to explore the relationship between transportation/zoning policy and sprawl, walkable communities, obesity, and a host of other issues.

    But you might consider a less assholish way of plugging your particular pet issue.

  9. #9 |  Cynical in CA | 

    And that niche is called … Jim Kunstler, the man who specializes in exhibiting sadistic tendencies toward expired equine. What a one-trick pony he is.

  10. #10 |  white_guy | 

    Black people are good at basketball.

    Mexicans make good farm workers.

    White guys are good shots with a hunting rifle.

    Arabs make good taxi drivers.

    If not racist, making generalities (good or bad) about whole groups of people based on their ethnicity certainly isn’t a libertarian/individualist thing to do.

  11. #11 |  RufusMoon | 

    Decriminalizing DUI laws is a good idea, huh? How about we protect the right to protest soldier funerals too: http://lawblog.legalmatch.com/2010/10/08/for-free-speech-to-matter-it-must-protect-the-worst-of-the-worst/

    Sarcasm, it’s a wonderful thing…

  12. #12 |  Cynical in CA | 

    #60 | white_guy — “If not racist, making generalities (good or bad) about whole groups of people based on their ethnicity certainly isn’t a libertarian/individualist thing to do.”

    You forgot: “in my opinion.”

    That statement is a bald assertion, and a false one at that.

  13. #13 |  white_guy | 

    Cynical in CA: So you’re saying that categorizing people’s driving skills based on race is the libertarian thing to do? You, sir, are a racist fuck.

  14. #14 |  Cynical in CA | 

    One can be a libertarian and still observe reality.

    The reality is, and it is an incontestable fact, that Asians cannot drive, especially Asian women. As I mentioned from my own extensive observations (not to mention the existence of the stereotype to begin with!!!), Asians cannot even properly cross a street without presenting a danger to themselves or others.

    I am not suggesting that it should be public policy to deny Asians the privilege of driving or walking. That would be decidedly unlibertarian.

    I do recommend knowing when you are driving in a heavily Asian-populated area, that you should use extreme care and watch out for Asian drivers and pedestrians. It serves me well in my daily routine.

    But your very valuable opinion is duly noted and filed appropriately, White Guy. Thank you for taking the time to think this through thoroughly and write such a cogent response. I eagerly await your next enlightening observation of reality so that I may learn and apply it to my life.

  15. #15 |  Don in NY | 

    I was a working taxpaying individual before I got a DWI. Due to the offense I lost my job and I’m basically unemployable. On the brighter side, all my living expenses such as housing, utilities, food, and medical are now being paid for by the generous taxpayers. What a productive system!