Me on Stossel’s Show

Sunday, August 7th, 2011

My segment on drunk driving laws aired Thursday night. You can watch it here.

Here’s the column where I lay out my argument.


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27 Responses to “Me on Stossel’s Show”

  1. #1 |  JACK | 


  2. #2 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    Very well stated, Radley. I hope you will continue to develop this idea and discuss it with people. It is not as radical as it sounds at first, unless you really still believe that traffic enforcement is totally about public safety, rather than largely about revenue generation. Thanks for making people think a little bit.

  3. #3 |  JS | 

    How come O’Reilly never invites you on?

  4. #4 |  Dave Krueger | 

    You’re suck a HACK. LOL!

  5. #5 |  Michael Pack | 

    There should only be a chemical test if the person is arrested for reckless driving[and there’s a standard of prof for that] or after a accident.That eliminates all the ‘small clues’ [ like being on the road late at night] and the bogus road side tests.All tests should be a blood test and need an warrant with prof of a prior bad act,reckless driving or accident like stated before.Simple.

  6. #6 |  Nancy Lebovitz | 

    Could you expand on painkillers as a risk for drivers? I’d expect that it depends on the specific drug and individual reactions to it.

  7. #7 |  IrishMike | 

    After watching your segment the other night (good job and I liked all the guests, Stossel put together a nice consistent theme for this episode) I’m leaning towards what I think #4 said – that DUI can still be an offense but only an add-on to an existing offense. So if the cop pulls over a guy who blew a red light or rear ended someone at one AND he exhibits signs of being drunk then the dance can begin. But no roadblocks or end of shift fishing expeditions. And everything is recorded.

  8. #8 |  Dave Krueger | 

    The problem with chemical tests is that it is sufficient evidence all by itself of a “crime”. Cops can pull people over for almost any fabricated reason.

    With dash cams becoming more common, I don’t think chemical tests are necessary at all. If you’re driving recklessly, they should have it on camera regardless of teh underlying cause.

    If you have to analyze someone’s blood top find out if they’re breaking the law, then it’s a bad law.

  9. #9 |  IrishMike | 

    Dave – agree but what I’m saying (pretty sure Michael Pack is saying it too) is that a chemical test is only performed if there is already an infraction and then there is suspicion of DUI. And the infraction has to be recorded (or related to a live accident scene) and provable – not just a fishing expedition.

  10. #10 |  Michael Pack | 

    Dave,I agree with you,I think B.A.C. levels are way to low and meaningless in many cases and should be raised.But,having to prove reckless op would eliminate the low B.A.C arrests where a person makes a small error and ends up walking the line.Every one makes a mistake of some sort most every time they drive.Plus,with all the tools cops have today it should be easy to prove reckless op.Take away the stand alone D.U.I..I would be fine though with just reckless op also.

  11. #11 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    I’m working on a chart showing the ever-decreasing legal BAC
    and the ever-increasing cost of a lawyer to fight the DUI.
    I’ve done some extrapolation, in the year 2100 the legal BAC
    will be .00005 (9 drops of wine) and the lawyers will charge $500,000.

    No wonder the founder of MADD, Candy Lightner,
    abandoned the group and ran for dear life…

  12. #12 |  James C'ham | 

    My wife is in the middle of DUI oddosy. Convicted for a non-driving DUI. she was in the front of a running car while friend was in store,convicted and given 2 years probation. P.O. officer gave her a breath test, violated her probation, is in jail for 21 months. I have spent $12,500 to date for this maddness. Due for release next year, lost her RN license, life ain’t so great for both of us….. I believe in Laws but lets get real here

  13. #13 |  Alex | 

    Indeed cities are manipulating yellow light to generate there revenue and people are getting hurt over it!

  14. #14 |  JS | 

    Yizmo “I’ve done some extrapolation, in the year 2100 the legal BAC
    will be .00005 (9 drops of wine) and the lawyers will charge $500,000.”

    lol brilliant! And Nancy Grace’s great grand daughter will be on CNN calling for tougher sentencing.

  15. #15 |  Lynn | 

    Am currently watching the Stossel show. Those that are apposed are not understanding the intent that you are bringing to this point. The intent is not to allow people to do things while driving (drinking, illegal drugs, prescription drugs etc) and to punish people for doing those things that cause problems. This will in effect put a fear into drivers to make sure they are paying attention at all times and ignoring the kids in the back seat, not texting, not taking that last pain pill etc. People will know they could get into trouble by allowing things to interfear with driving and judgment. I had three children in the back seat many times. Most of the time they were ignored so that I could drive saftely that was my goal. If I had to deal with them I stopped. (there isn’t a law telling me to do this) Also, about the point on the show asking about a way to tell when a law will have negative outcomes… the use of human psychology. We know that given a chance people can and will pervert laws to suit themselves, such as municipalities shortening yellow lights. We know that municipalities need revenue to stay in exsistance that needs to be factored into all laws. People in many situations do not act ethically or morally when not required to do so. That includes police, fireman, politicians and the general puplic, EVERYONE has the capability to be immoral and unethical at times. WE ARE HUMAN. It by no means insinuates that police, fireman, politians and the general public is always bad just that it does happen and we can factor that into our laws.

  16. #16 |  IrishMike | 

    James – first of all very sorry about your wife’s situation. Second of all your spelling of the word madness was either deliberate genius or brilliant happenstance. That is how the word should be spelled on here whenever describing a DUI related story.

  17. #17 |  JRL | 

    Hi Radley,

    What do you think of this column by Crispin Sartwell from a few years ago?

  18. #18 |  markm | 

    Radley, when you say that kids in the back or fatigue can be more impairing than 0.8-1.0 BAC, there’s one counterargument you need to be prepared for: Driving with kids or driving home after a long, hard day at work are unavoidable for most people, short of giving up a normal life. Drinking when you’ll have to drive home is entirely a voluntary choice, so why not ban this avoidable hazard?

    My own answer is that this argues for enhancements to the penalties when reckless driving has already been proven, not for removing cops from road patrol to stand around at a sobriety checkpoint.

  19. #19 |  James C'ham | 

    Yea EVERYONE in the State has their hand out when it comes to DUI violations. She had to pay $150.00 and spend a half day at MADD victim impact panel. I got in trouble by suggesting to the D.A. that I could just pay oh say a $10,000.00 fine and we could forget this whole mess. She got all huffy(no punn intended)and threatened me with bribery. It is all about the money in Georgia. Courts, Probation, Private Probation companys, Sheriff, jail, jail telephone charges,jail commasary charges, bail, jail medical the list goes on and on!

  20. #20 |  Acertainflorentine | 

    This is so true:

    In the years since, the checkpoints have become little more than revenue generators for local governments.

    And actually understated. ALL traffic “policing” is about revenue and not public safety.

  21. #21 |  Stephen | 

    DWI is big money for a lot of people.

    I remember doing that MADD victim thing. All I felt was that they had done all they could to the people that actually hurt their loved ones and it wasn’t enough. They needed to rant at people who hadn’t hurt anybody. They acted like WE were the ones who hurt them. Didn’t seem to be relevant to me. I was just a captive audience for their rant plus I had to pay for it.

  22. #22 |  Highway | 

    That’s what MADD has become: A pit of rage where people have directed their feelings of vengeance at a class of people that are somehow similar to the person they blame for the loss of a loved one. They don’t seek ‘closure’ or finality, they seek to keep this avenue of hate open through whatever means because it means they’re ‘doing something’ for their lost one. And because it doesn’t fulfill them, they think “maybe if we expose more ‘horrible people’, then it will help someone.” So they seek to ratchet down the ‘legal limit’, well under the point where it has a significant effect on people’s actual driving behavior.

    And they guilt other people into going along with them: “You never lost a loved one.” “We’re doing this to ‘save’ someone, so that trumps your pesky freedoms.” “We don’t care what else the police do in the name of these laws, they’re ‘saving lives’.” Just another group, like telemarketers, politicians, and con artists, who prey on the civility of other people to get what they want.

  23. #23 |  pam | 

    on the upside (roll eyes), local suburban taxi businesses are booming. The family down the street from me is doing very well shuttling teenagers around all weekend. It used to be a taxi company had to the O’Hare run to make any real money, not anymore, just the local bar run.

  24. #24 |  CyniCAl | 

    Amen Pam, went to two shows this weekend at the OC Fair and took cabs to and from both. Was actually kind of nice. Stimulative of the local economy too.

  25. #25 |  John Spragge | 

    Granted the problems with MADD, eliminating drunk driving statutes with no effective replacement seems extremely imprudent to me. In the most recent year for which I could find statistics, over thirty three thousand people died in highway traffic crashes. In Canada, the same year, 2,011 people died in traffic crashes: a completely unacceptable figure. I believe that in Canada our high rate of traffic deaths stems from a number of causes, including our bad habit of comparative leniency towards homicidal drivers. Before eliminating the specific offence of driving with .08 BAC, I would like to see some evidence of effective measures to reduce deadly incompetence in drivers from all causes. Because if you choose to operate a two-tonne steel bomb in a public place, the rest of the public does have a right to hold you accountable for doing it safely and competently.

  26. #26 |  John Spragge | 

    Granted that the American version of MADD has taken what I at least consider an inappropriately prohibitionist position, and granted also that American courts have a less scandalously lenient view of dangerous behaviour behind the wheel than the ones where I live, I see two problems with this argument, one narrow and factual, the other a broader issue of attitudes.

    Mr. Balko’s article quotes to Lawrence Taylor’s references to a “DUI exception to the constitution” in relation to license suspensions. Well, most constitutions, including the US constitution, do not define a right to operate a motor vehicle. For that matter, no constitution I know of defines a right to perform surgery. If ant to cut me open, you have to have a medical license and my informed consent. And I can, and I assure you I will, withhold that consent if I have reason to believe alcohol or any other intoxicant has affected your judgment or performance. And I and my fellow citizens insist on the same right to decline to consent to your operating a two-tonne steel bomb

  27. #27 |  Phil | 

    Saw you on Stossel on 8/7/11 :

    If I remember, you asked the audience, who here thinks we need Drunk Driving laws. Everyone raised their hand except 1 or 2. Next time ask the audience, how many here if there were no Drunk Driving laws go out and drive drunk. I bet you’ll get no hands. So then tell them if you are all so responsible and most people are, why do we need the laws. The people who would go out and drive drunk (I’m talking delirium — real DUI) will do so regardless of the law.

    Also, I speak from experience: I had a .10 BAC when I was hit by a guy in a pickup truck so the cop said the accident was my fault. The 1st cop on scene needed backup — a traffic investigator to determine fault. Talk about a waste of taxpayer money/I can’t do my job I need help, anyway,,, There were city traffic light cameras that they didn’t use. Was told by a Lt. that they are blurry and don’t give details. I told him it’s one blob hitting another, but he didn’t care. Neither do the courts or insurance carriers. Otherwise you would not have repeat offenders, some as many as 9 DUIs and still driving, (don’t remember you mentioning that on Stossel)
    like the guy who killed the elder couple on I15.

    After court I was sent to DUI school where the teacher proudly stated that the police feel they catch less than 1% of all DUIs. My agruement is that means 99% of all DUI drivers make it home safely so why the big hoopla and laws. Also, how many other people are out there who get DUI and are blamed for an accident they did not cause. This is another false statistic that causes MADD to get all up and up. And it creates insurance fraud because the guy who hit me will now say (and did) “ow, my back” to get a better payout from the insurance carrier. Something he would not have done had he been rightfully placed at fault. Everyone pays for that extra expense. I quite that insurer so they have to come up with the money somewhere and thats you good drivers.