Drunk Driving Permits

Councilor Danny Healy-Rae

Councilor Danny Healy-Rae


In Ireland, County Kerry Councillor Danny Healy-Rae proposed changing the law to allow drunk driving permits to rural inhabitants. (source)

Crazy?

Crazier still, it PASSED!

Mind you, I don’t really think it is crazy. In fact, I think that Mr. Healy-Rae is brilliant. I don’t know much about Ireland’s drunk driving laws, but I know that ours are a constitutional abomination. Lawrence Taylor’s The DUI Exception to the Constitution is a must read.

I think that we should follow Healy-Rae’s move here, in the United States. We should restore sanity to the drunk driving laws.

Despite what MADD wants us to believe, drunk driving never was the “carnage” they want us to believe in order to justify their existence and their funding.

My co-Satyriconista, Charles Platt summed it up:

State laws used to [allow] police to make a judgment call about impairment, based on their observations. But that wasn’t good enough for Candy Lightner, whose daughter had been killed by a drunk driver. In the wearying tradition of family members who want to make the death of a loved one seem more meaningful by inconveniencing everybody else, Lightner started Mothers Against Drunk Driving. The name of this brilliant campaign guaranteed its success. Who could possibly disagree with Mothers (that most sacred category of human being) who wanted to protect their children from alcohol-crazed hit-and-run maniacs? Alas, it ended up criminalizing the people whom it was supposed to protect. (source)

As Platt and Taylor remind us, there was a time when the law punished “impaired” driving. Now, it doesn’t matter if you are “impaired” or not — it matters if a breathalyzer, calibrated to the “average” person says you have a certain blood alcohol content. That measurement is garbage, since if you do not match the “average” calibration, you’re already screwed. Even so, at one time, the law said that .15 BAC was ok. Then, not enough convictions for MADD, so the limit dropped to .12, then .10, then .08, and there are pushes to get it even lower.

Blood alcohol content does not measure “impairment” – it measures BAC, and does not even do it very well. Meanwhile, as Taylor eloquently informs us, we have a swelling body of precedent creating exceptions to our most important constitutional protections, because of this paranoid fear that a drunk driver is waiting (along with a terrorist and a child molester) around every corner.

I do not advocate driving while too impaired to do so. I’ve done it. I worked my way through a few years of college by driving a taxi. I’d lease the cab for 36 hours, and sometimes I would drive for all 36 of them. Yes, I would swing in to Logan Airport and pick up some unsuspecting family after being awake and driving for 35 straight hours. If they had any idea how impaired I was, they would have jumped from the cab while I was weaving and swerving down Storrow Drive. Meanwhile, if a cop pulled me over for suspicion of driving while intoxicated, I’d blow a perfect 0.00 on the breathalyzer. If you talk on a cell phone (hands free or not) you are just as “impaired” as if you were over .10. Meanwhile, every car comes with a handsfree bluetooth hookup. Even minivans designed to be full of screaming children.

Put an over-stressed mother behind the wheel of a minivan full of screaming kids, yakking on her cell phone or the same mother, after a restful night’s sleep and three glasses of wine at dinner, and I guarantee you, you’re more likely to be killed by her in the first scenario.

Drunk driving laws have very little (if anything) to do with safety. They are about cheap political points. How do you say no to a grieving father shrieking “STOP THE DEATH ON OUR HIGHWAYS!” You can’t, not if you want to get re-elected in the age of 24 hour news.

But… half kidding, but half serious, why not have an alcohol permit?

You get your license. You drive for a few years. After you drive for 5 years, you get to go to the DMV and take a test. You drink until your BAC measures .10. Then, you drive an obstacle course. Make the test rigorous. Maybe even require you to come back a few times. You pass? You get a .10 permit. Crank it up every year or so until you are actually “impaired.” If you can show that you can drive, consistently, with a .20 BAC, then fine, drive with a .20 BAC.

But, along with that permit, you must buy a purple flashing light that goes on your roof. And, you must drive at 25% lower than the speed limit.

That way, the people who cower in terror at the boogeyman of the drunk driver, can see the “drunk” driver coming a mile away. They can pull over and let him pass if they are really afraid. Or, since he’s going so slowly, pass him.

Either that, or return the law to the state that it was in when it made sense — driving “while impaired” is illegal. Driving “while having measurable alcohol in your system” is not longer illegal. MADD goes out of business. We get rid of the DUI exception to the Constitution. Everyone wins.

H/T: Teresa

70 Responses to Drunk Driving Permits

  1. dan says:

    Interesting concept. The problem I see is the current law (and all previous attemps) all work on the deterrence principle. “Dont drive after drinking because being too drunk to realize you are drunk is not an excuse”. And deterrence works (more or less) most of the time. It probably works better now because of MADD and FAS and FB. But it still doesn’t work perfectly. This new concept will add a few purple flashing lights to the mix, and both people and police will have to deal with it. Instead of just focusing on perceived impairment or running roadblocks for everyone, there will now be purple lights to check. Because nobody would think of putting a purple light on their car, right?

    I’m one of the few that can drive and talk on my cell (in my left ear) and notice the persom merging from the left and notice that they are are completely ignoring their YIELD sign and be prepared to brake just so they can honk their horn at the near miss. With the cell phone laws I am painfully aware of those that are scofflaws. Because the people who were not a risk in general obey the laws. The one who just put both left wheels over the double line? She had a cell in her ear. So now I don’t complain about the cell phone laws. I don’t use the handsfree because the sound quality is awful! It’s a good thing my kids are grown up because there is no way my ex could have lullabyed them to sleep (like the Hyundai commercial). More like driven them to insanity.
    I understand that the laws are encroachment on rights (here in canada as well as the US). but sometimes a bit of encroachment is a necessary thing. The alternative would be much more expensive. The current system is like an 80/20 rule. The exceptions have their rights infringed. Just like a lot of other laws. The cost of making it more fair? I wouldn’t dream of proposing such legislation in the current environment. would you?

    • Chris says:

      You think you are one of the few people who can do what you say.

      Of course, 85% of drivers consider their skills are well above average.

      Just like 85% of people probably do not think they are impaired with a BAC of .08.

      • Thats just the point… to get a .08 permit, you have to take a battery of .08 driving tests.

      • Jo says:

        Chris, if you’re going to respond with soundbites instead of actual conversation, at least get your numbers right. It’s probable that 85% of drivers’ skills are in fact well above average. Consider a case where there are 10 drivers. Nine of them measure 8 out of 10 and one of them measures 2 out of 10. Ninety percent are above average. If you want to drop this meaningless little factoid again, consider using the word “median.” It still won’t make your point for you but at least you’ll be missing the obvious error.

      • dan says:

        the difference being I don’t think my skills should give me a free pass. I’d rather have everyone under the same rule than risk others being exceptions. I can’t prove that my driving with cell skills are better than others but I actually can prove that my driving with alcohol skills are. Several years back one of the car mags did a test with alcohol and cones in a parking lot and skilled drivers including a few pros. Just for fun we tried the same at a local skid control course facilty after they closed for the day. we didnt have access to BAC testing but two drinks in a minute then driving a half hour after? should be way over transiently for an average male. Again, I don’t think my skills should give me a free pass. Not with a purple flashing light. Not with an official test. I’d rather not complicate they system and risk people slipping through that way. There is just too much alcohol consumed as part of our culture to risk it. Until I went back to school last year I saw it every weekend working in bars as a photographer (and having to drive home after). What is the answer? You guys tried prohibition and that didn’t work. So going with an 80/20 rule still seems like the best fit. Our illustrious head Satyronista clearly disagrees.
        My view is that MADD has too much power. Get a lobby group to counter MADD and you might have a shot at fine tuning the 80/20 rule.

      • David says:

        I live in MD. Our BAC is .08. I got pulled over a few years back. I was taking a friend home 2 hrs after my last drink. I did all the test they gave me to do, and did them well. They then asked me to take their road side breathalyzer. I refused. They asked why. I told them I passed all your test and if I blow to high you will arrest me. The Trooper informed me that there was no pass or fail on their tests. I then replied if I would have held my leg up and fallen over, I would have failed and you would arrest me. After some thought the senior Trooper told me to take the breathalyzer and it would determine if I could drive home. I blew a .23!! They didn’t let me drive home. I got a speeding ticket and had to find a ride home. I weight 240 lbs I may have blown a .23 but I was not impaired!

        • miked says:

          Dude… .23 is high I dont care if you weigh 300 lbs. To weigh that much and blow a .23 you must of had 24 beers. come on…. you werent impaired at all? I feel like the legal limit should be set at .12 or .15.

  2. Charles Platt says:

    So the Irish councillor just happens to own a bar, and his motion passed 5 votes to 3, with 19 councillors absent or abstaining! I love it!

    But, I think he’s right. Leaving aside all the aspects of DUIs that infuriate me (summarized with such sobering skill by Lawrence Taylor) the issue of rural driving conditions is significant. If I drive where I live in Coconino County (population density 7 people per square mile) it’s rather different from driving where I used to live, in the City of Los Angeles (population density more than 8,000 people per square mile). Moreover if I drive at, say, 11pm, all those vulnerable children whom MADD seeks to protect are off the streets, and their parents likewise are at home asleep. My chance of encountering another vehicle is almost zero–in fact, the only vehicle I am likely to see is that of the country police, waiting patiently (at my expense of course) to find the slightest excuse to pull me over, administer the blood alcohol test, impound my vehicle, and deprive me of my license.

    The impact of suspension is also especially severe in a remote rural area, where losing the right to drive is going to make it basically impossible to buy groceries, unless you have a spouse who can do it. Thus, the law is administered unconstitutionally, the effects are discriminatory, and I suggest that a large factor in all of this is that driving is one of the few remaining activities that allows a person a significant amount of personal liberty. While I don’t think it is an *explicit* desire of groups such as MADD to deprive people of personal liberty, somehow that always seems to be the result.

    • dan says:

      well again its the 80/20 rule. I too live in the country. It’s just under a 2 mile walk on roads to the local Freshmart to get milk (they now offer gluten free and bio products so they are more than your average corner store) or 1.5 miles cross country in the mud or snow. I think we are discriminated against in a lot more than just driving by living in rural areas. Access to services like cable, internet etc have traditionally been underwhelming. I do not know if the law is unconstitutional where you live. It passed that test here several times.

      OTOH I do know it tends to get administered unevenly in the country here. My dad was practically blind before he got his cataract operation. He drove like that for over a year because they didnt want to deprive him of his vehicle (he lived a lot farther away from the closest milk than I do). I think that’s probably even worse. Here if you are caught driving impaired and get convicted you lose your licence, but are able to get a special permit to drive during the day for work and work alone (if you can prove you need it for work).

  3. senpai71 says:

    Marc, that post by Lawrence Taylor was from 2005. Obviously now all 50 states use a BAC of .08% as the cut-off, but has anything else changed materially – federal or state laws etc.? I went to his blog and checked more recent posts, but without going to every post over the last 8 years, it’s not easy to tell whether that original post is still basically correct…

  4. […] Marc Randazza is famous for pushing the edge. He writes: […]

  5. bob says:

    Just put a breathalyzer in every vehicle and eliminate life ruining drunk driving consequences

    • Ancel De Lambert says:

      And destroy Concept of Ownership. Great idea! Now lock the bastards out of their own houses and they’ll never drink again. Brilliant!

  6. Esteban says:

    I love the guy’s teeth in the photo.

  7. James says:

    I think it’s important for everyone in the US at least to be aware that the 0.08 limit is called DWI or Driving While Intoxicated. The real limit for DUI or Driving Under the Influence is 0.04. Please check your local laws and don’t trust me for this very important information. The penalties are virtually the same for both offenses! The penalties are quite harsh and if you are not a problem drinker, have a good job and a spouse to help you while your license is suspended/revoked it will take you at least two years and $10,000.00+ to get on with your life after a conviction. From the tone of this article and all the media coverage I think this 0.04 limit is not really understood by the Citizenry. It should be.

  8. and u think they r going to obey when the have a drunk permit they will drive fast like they would if they were sober i say if u drink dont drive period

  9. Dan says:

    When I read this my answers been heard. Thank you God for my 9th time to drive again!

  10. Brian Landblom says:

    Instead of focusing on enforcement, how about we focus on passive technology (no need for breathalyzers in every car). Sensor are cheap these days and more of them are being used everyday. If you mix radar, some cameras and other sensors, a computer would be able to detect if a driver shows signs of impaired or erratic driving (be it alcohol, drugs, sleep deprivation, aggressive driving, talking on a phone, etc). If dangerous driving is detected, the driver would be warned and would need to correct their driving. If the problem driving was not corrected, then the car would automatically slow down to a crawl (with hazards on) forcing the driver to pull over.

    • sounds like “Demolition Man”

      • Ancel De Lambert says:

        That sounds like sarcasm, Marc, why don’t you head on down to the station with me and we can get that little attitude problem all fixed up. A friendly city is a happy city!

    • Two thumbs up for this. MIT is already working on driver awareness, with pupil tracking and so on, and Mercedes are currently testing line followers and distance alarms and so on. I wouldn’t think it would be useful for automated driving (which is their stated goals), there ain’t enough horsepower or algorithms in the world just yet. But as a functional detector mechanism… By golly, that could just work! To the Batcave, James, and don’t spare the horses! :)

  11. Sam Wheat says:

    Glory be to Allah, this war has been going on for how long now and they couldn’t eliminate this problem? All that was needed by the messenger of Allah, the prophet mohamed (pbuh) was that one verse from the Quran, one verse, be revealed and alcohol was never to be drunk again in Madinah (the city of the prophet mohamed).

    “O you who have believed, indeed, intoxicants, gambling, [sacrificing on] stone alters [to other than Allah ], and divining arrows are but defilement from the work of Satan, so avoid it that you may be successful. Satan only wants to cause between you animosity and hatred through intoxicants and gambling and to avert you from the remembrance of Allah and from prayer. So will you not desist?” (Quran ch.5:90-91)

    You could put as many laws as you want, if the hearts of the people are corrupt, there will remain a corrupt,evil society that wants to continue drinking. The solution will never come in the form of constant breathalyzer tests, because the problem has always been, although many people don’t want to admit to it, a matter of immorality and disobedience to God. When you leave God’s way these are the problems you endure, and they will never leave… until to God you return.
    People mock the Middle East, and call us an uncivilized people who need democracy, yet the Muslim countries have the least consumption of alcohol in the world, drunk driving isn’t even considered an issue. We also have the least murder rate in the world, have the least theft rate in the world, have the least rape cases in the world, and we Muslims have the highest rate of charity in the world.

    You choose, the laws of your “democracy”…or the law of God.

  12. Steve R says:

    Danny Healy Rea is a cretin who owns a pub. That is the reason he wants drunk driving permits, so his customers don’t have to pay for a taxi home and they can spend more money in his pub. The vote was passed because of high absenteeism on the night of the vote and the fact that the councillors who passed it all either own or have family connections to pubs.

  13. leon says:

    The law is very simple now. Why change it? If you drink don’t drive if you do then pay the price. Thousands of people are killed and injured every year by people who drink and drive and only care about themselves. In some countries it is a capital offense to drink and drive. One thing is certain, if you drink and drive you won’t do it again. I can drive 95 in a 55 mile per hour speed zone if I say to myself Well, if I get caught I pay the fine. If I know that the government will kill me Umm, I’m going to set the cruse control at 54. It’s only human nature to push the limits but if the price is too high you won’t. This is why the law is as tough as it is. Even so, a drunk who only thinks of his habit and can care less about other people will still drink and drive. I think a first offense should be a year in prison and a second offense should be five years in jail. There are too many people who drink and drive because they have the fine money, they don’t care. If they knew it meant jail time they would think twice.

    • Charles Platt says:

      Charles Dickens described watching a pickpocket being hanged publicly, in the London of his time. He noted that pickpockets were working the crowd at the hanging, not deterred by the fact that one of their friends was being executed in front of them.

      Unfortunately the tired old theories about deterrence just go on and on. Kill people who drink and drive! Great idea. It’s sure to work.

  14. CC says:

    The DUI laws in America are bad enough but even more abominable is the insurance companies attitude’s as well as employers towards anybody who has been unlucky enough to get a DUI. So, here’s the quandry: make a person with a DUI conviction unemployable as our society basically has done. Call it a deterent if you like but society will PAY for the person’s inability to work. He or she will either turn to entitlements, selling drugs or stealing…PERIOD!!! You can believe in MADD’s rhetoric that DUI laws are saving lives but YOU will be paying for it!!! So either make the laws and punishment reasonable and do NOT let employers and insurance companies discriminate against drinkers or you will be paying the cost of a completely employable person being incarcerated. Good ol’ America, land of the most incarcerated people of non-violent crimes in the world!!! Fact!!!

    • Randall anthony says:

      I agree with you totally. Cell phones, speeding and inattentive driving are responsible for 92 percent of deaths on the road,where’s the moral outrage and discrimination for these evil doers!

      • dan says:

        curious where you got the 92% statistic from?

        • Ancel De Lambert says:

          As well as this ridiculous concept of them being “evil-doers.” Evil? Really? You are so far from the concept of true evil that I envy your sheltered little life.

          • Randall anthony says:

            I’m making a point, if the end result is the same where is the consistancy in thought? I’m not sheltered,I’m a victim of madd and mindless americans trying to micro manage everything.

        • Randall anthony says:

          Alcohol caused deaths on the road are between 2 to 8 percent not 37 percent as the ntsc and madd state.

          • dan says:

            what about deaths due by weather? or mechanical failure? or a deer jumping on your hood? the statistic gets less useful when you add in all the other factors that have no ‘evil doer’ to complain a bout.

            • Randall anthony says:

              Well if you had any alcohol in your system and a deer jumps out in front of you, guess what they blame you, the fix is in. Madd caused this crusade. The government always blames the drinking driver regardless who’s at fault. Before 1980 the cause of accidents was important. |This isn’t true when alcohol is present,the incident goes down as alcohol related. The system is now designed to inflate alcohols responsibility, thus the fix is in. Weather and mehanical failure is far down on causes of accidents. If your drinking you get the blame, which alters stats.The goes like this, cell phones/texting-inattentive driving-speeding-weather-alcohol-mechanical. |The dui myth is way down the list why the special attention. |Around 2500 per year die from alcohol caused accidents,around 45,000 from the others on my list. Madd and the nhtc are responsible for deeiving the American people,It’s a hate campaign.

          • QuackQuack says:

            Alcohol caused deaths on the road are between 2 to 8 percent [citation needed]

            • Randall anthony says:

              Go see get madd.com. |I know these stats are hard for people take but madd and your nation states lie to their own people.. The official term is problem inflation.|Some call it lying for justice. Emotion like hatred rules the day.

  15. Charles Platt says:

    In Arizona, in addition to the usual offense of blowing over the breath limit, there is another law whereby if you are seen committing an alleged moving violation, you can be breathalyzed, and if there is ANY ALCOHOL LEVEL AT ALL (even if it is below the usual limit) this is justification for impounding your car and all the rest of it. A friend of mine was subjected to this. In the end the charge was dropped, but only because they had no real justification for pulling him over in the first place. He just happened to be driving an old car of the type that Hispanic people around here tend to drive, so, the cops tried their luck with him.

    One guess why everyday people (young people, especially, because they are most often targeted) now share an almost universal contempt for their local cops. It never used to be that way.

    • Randall anthony says:

      I believe you are right,laws and enforcement policies have corrupted many peoples attitudes toward the government. Special interests like MADD are responsible for these attitudes.

      • Charles Platt says:

        This is all part of a bigger problem, which is that the Framers of the Constitution failed to include a fourth branch of government which would tasked with dismantling and removing regulations and laws created and validated by the other three branches. Therefore, we have a system for creating laws indefinitely, but no system for getting rid of them. We need something like OMB, which has an adversarial role: It is fairly independent and assesses the financial impact of budgetary policies. The Office of Deregulation would have some limitations regarding the laws it could attack (maybe they would have to be more than X number of years old, and maybe a minimum number of citizens would have to sign petitions for removal, and Congress would have to assent with a simple aye/nay vote and no debate) but it could be done.

    • An older friend of mine, many years ago, commented that when the police over here decided to upgrade their vehicles in the 1940s and 1950s, everything changed. They used to drive big, old, slow cars like Bentleys and so on, and they were the terror of the roads. Then someone decided they needed sleek, fast, manly cars, and within a decade or two, all respect for the copper in the car had disappeared, to be replaced by a wish to measure yourself against the faster car, to see how big your dick really was.

      I’m not sure how much this really had to do with the loss of respect for the guys who try to keep us alive on the roads, but I’ve heard similar stories now from a few older relatives, and I think it played a part.

      I don’t think of cops as ‘pigs’, ever. I look at every cop I see, and I think “I wouldn’t take your job for all the world.” I didn’t used to be like that. And I still get pissed off at the occasional copper trying to measure HIS dick. But I’ve seen what many of them see, from the perspective of the one lying on the road unable to feel my legs and with the stink of my own piss and shit in the air, and I couldn’t sleep at night if I had to see one of those accidents more than once a lifetime. For most of the rural coppers here, that happens every couple of years. Brutal job. Just brutal.

  16. A driving instructor with over 40 years’ experience recently commented that what most people driving a car needed in the middle of their steering wheel was not an airbag, but a sharpened spike!

    Imagine how much more focused and careful people would be!

    In fact, of course, the exact diametrical opposite happens.

    The moral of my story? We desperately, urgently, need better driver training, not side-curtain airbags, distance sensors, or BAC discussions.

    No-one, anywhere, should drive after they’ve had a drink, a smoke, or an argument.

    This shouldn’t be about the _level_ of alchohol in your blood. It should be about the *presence* of alchohol (or anything else you drink, smoke, inhale, or inject, to make you feel better) in your blood.

    As someone with more than a decade of semi-pro rallying, dirt biking, and bike racing, my skills are not only superb, but mostly automatic. And even after driving well over a million kilometres with just that one tiny lapse of judgement, I still get into close calls, because I keep thinking that other drivers know what they’re doing. They don’t. Period.

    Add anything to the mix, and it’s a statistical certainty that sooner or later, you’re going to end up like me, with more than $100,000 of hardware keeping my spine and life together. How did I get that way? Three pints of Guinness and, an hour later, a car driver arguing with his wife. (It’s not the flying through the air that sucks, BTW, it’s the deceleration at the end, let me tell you).

    Me, with my skills, out of the game. Permanently. And I got off lucky! In the spinal wards, there are plenty of 0.01 drivers and riders who’ll never learn to walk again. Same for drivers arguing, or crying, or late for their job interview. But mostly pissed, and trying not to think about their court case they’ll need to attend once they can be wheeled out of hospital in 3, or 10, or 18 months’ time. There are very, very few 0.15 drivers or riders in spinal wards. They’re usually a few levels down, in the morgue. It’s a pity their victims are, too.

    You don’t need laws about _how much_ you’ve had to drink. You need laws saying, *if* you drink, then drive, you’re not just “a bloody idiot”, but you never get to drive again, period. Wouldn’t that be great? Sure, it restricts your freedom, but it also restricts your freedom to take someone else with you. That outweighs any “freedom”you might think you deserve.

    Then, we can begin training kids and people like you, Gentle Reader, how to drive properly, instead of how to follow the laws and rules so you don’t die right away. That’s the difference between life and death, not how well you can pretend to hide the effects of alchohol when you’re driving.

    And a bit of courtesy goes a hell of a long way. Just sayin’.

  17. alpha4centauri says:

    I’m very much against driving while impaired. But his idea is interesting. Telling people to use common sense when the reason they aren’t fit to drive involves impairment of judgment isn’t working.

    I suspect a lot of young males would get the flashing lights just to prove how skillful they were on the driving test. Now we’ve got theose people driving 10 mph below the limit, and the cops can pull them over to make sure they’re blowing below the limit they tested at. The rest of us can get out of their way when we see them coming onto the highway via the exit ramp (though I fear they would follow us onto the shoulder thinking they’re joining a line of traffic).

    It actually could be an improvement.

  18. Randall anthony says:

    People have over blown alcohol and autos.Even people who are over legal limits whatever they are can still safely drive. Law enforcement should only pull you over based on driving. |The only accurate way to establish bad driving is by how someone drives,if he or she hasn’t broken any laws then don’t just pull them over to collect money and to satisfy people like yourselves because you hate what they are doing.It’s all based on driving, not subtle inconsistencies, ridiculous finger counting parlor tricks and alphabets. If no traffic laws have been violated there is not a problem. By the way , if drinking is so bad and obvious these main traffic violations wouldn’t need to be fabrication by your local law enforcement representatives|Remember these bac numbers and intoxcication relations are different with every individual.

    • dan says:

      When you leave a house party, club, restaurant or wine tasting you have no had an accident…yet. Our society recognizes certain preventive measures. This is inescapable. The BAC test is a compromise, yes. It does not convict you of the crime they fear you are likely to commit. You have not yet killed or injured anyone and yes there is a possibility you may not. The compromise is that statistics have determined that you have a 1 in x chance of killing someone or injuring them or yourself or destroying my aunt’s hedges if you are over a certain BAC. Some people exceed the speed limit and don’t get caught but are a risk. some people can safely exceed the speed limit and sometimes they get caught (or not). Its sometimes safe to run a red light. it’s sometimes ok to pass without signalling or cross a double line. Its sometimes safe for you to do so but no for everyone else. Your logic fails at encompassing the preventive component of most laws. Every single one of the examples I cited has a statistical component. The doouble line in the road? Chances are they put it there because ppl got killed. Or maybe it was freakin’ obvious it had to be there when they built the road. Results based law was tried 2,000 years ago by druid societies. it worked for them but failed to scale. there is nothing magical about alcohol that makes it so different we should change the law structure. And believe me, I consider it magical. I have over 30 bottles of varying spirits and several cases of beer in my house at all times. I have bottles of liqueurs you probably haven’t heard of yet (and no thats not a hipster thing they are just uncommon). And I am one who can drive over the limit. I’ve done the test at skid school. My next door neighbour? and the rest of the street? statistically… not. make a law for me or make a law for the street.

      • CPlatt says:

        “Our society recognizes certain preventive measures. This is inescapable.” Whether it is “inescapable” depends on what the issue is. Right now we are laboring under the burden of preventive measures against the “terrorist threat.” How does that suit you? Some of us feel that we have more preventive measures in the US these days than are strictly necessary. Some of us remember those halcyon days in the 1970s when society seemed to work pretty well with fewer preventive measures (and no breathalyzers, incidentally). Some of us have visited other nations that are not run by control freaks who make it their business to mind our business.

        No one is arguing that someone who is so drunk that he is unable to walk should be driving a car in that state. But no one is arguing that someone who has taken one sip of wine should suffer a DUI. So where is the dividing line? And why should alcohol-related traffic offenses be treated any differently in the court/justice system than other offenses? Those were the questions which began this discussion.

        • dan says:

          sorry but you are leaving reasoned debate and getting into hyperbole. one sip of wine doesnt get you a DUI where you live. A few places have zero tolerance for young drivers (here included). But I think it’s safe to assume that you are of age and have been driving long enough, since you remember those ‘halcyon days’. As for the “some of us have visited nation that are not run by control freaks” pretty much all civilized nations have BAC tests just like we do. Some have zero tolerance. I’m pretty sure you know this. So please, back to facts.

          As for where the line is, that is up to you and everyone to decide. Times change though. Society may or may not have worked in the 1970s. I have an ex-gf whose daddy drove drunk half the time. He was a cop. His partner covered for him. I knew plenty of people who drove home drunk from bars. I was playing music in them. most made it home without killing anyone. but not all. Is it that things worked better or we know better? But look around you. if you ran for office (any office) on your platform how many people do you think would vote for you? Are youy right and everyone else is wrong?

          • CPlatt says:

            Actually in Arizona, one sip of wine can do it. If you are suspected of a moving violation, and your breath test shows ANY alcohol at all, you can get the DUI treatment. A friend discovered this, when he was hauled off to the local police station house (15 miles away) and his car was impounded, even though his blood alcohol was *below* the legal limit. They claimed he failed to stop at a stop sign. Later when they were forced to acknowledge that it was a yield sign, the charges were dropped. He still had to get home at 3am and go back the next day to pay to get his car out.

            But in any case, that was not the point. My point is, we can agree that one sip, at one extreme, is unimportant. We can agree that blind drunk, at the other extreme, is unacceptable. So where is the reasonable point between those extremes, where the law should kick in? This was my question. MADD has given different answers over the years. Other nations have differing standards. What’s your answer? And why should due process be so different for DUI cases, from almost all other kinds of cases?

            • dan says:

              Actually one sip of wine in your example didnt do it. All you posted was a case of Police not following the laws and eventually backing down. there are examples of them doing this all over its not just a BAC thing. A real example would have been where your friend actually faced charged for not being over. My dad was pulled over once, a month before he died. He was 91. He was tired. It was 3AM on a Saturday night. Police thought they had as drunk driver, not a senior who was coming home from the hospital because he had rushed her there at 11PM (my dad knows how to party. I was asleep by 2AM that night). It took forever (or at least a few hours) for them to back down even tho he had zero alcohol.

            • CPlatt says:

              Dan I have read the statutes. You are just quibbling and ignoring the questions which initiated this thread.

            • Beat says:

              Illegal/Legal is a yes/no question. Impairment is not so easily measureable, so what can we do? Some arbitrary border has to be defined. It probably does not really matter if the border is 0.1 lower or higher, as long as it’s somewhere in the “probably safe” area.

  19. CPlatt says:

    Another point that has not been made here is that, according to my friends in law enforcement, police frequently drive while intoxicated, in the happy knowledge that their cop friends will not breathlyze them.

    It would be interesting to know whether police have more accidents than civilians.

  20. dan says:

    So disagreeing with the premise is called ignoring? Great way to debate an issue. Someone who doesn’t happen to agree is ignoring. the questions. I’m pretty sure I’ve directly addressed them more than once. or is that also an Arizona statute? (ive read them as well so please tell me what you are citing when you say a sip of wine can get you a DUI charger?)

    p.s this is showing up out of sequence because that’s where wordpress tells me its going. its a reply to “Dan I have read the statutes. You are just quibbling and ignoring the questions which initiated this thread.”

  21. J says:

    While i like your idea of trying to reduce the chances that people who shouldn’t be caught up in the net of current drinking laws, I think your proposal is too complex. At the core of it, people know before they begin to drink that they are not impared by alcohol at all. They also know when they will need to travel and if a car is available to them to use. While it would be nice to be able to say its okay to drink a little before you need to drive a car, the little bit of alcohol cushion you model would offer is really just not important to have available. An adult who would like to take a drink can, before they take one, review their plans, make sure they won’t need to drive, and get themselves into a responsible situation and then enjoy what they want to drink. This is what it means to be an adult. To make the more important choice. And the more important choice is always to think of yourself as a person in concert with others. Its not unreasonable to ask adults to create a safe situation in which they can then drink. And its not unreasonable to ask adults to be that slightly more responsible. Its less responsible to tell an adult its okay to go into a well-defined cushion area where some alcohol and some driving will be okay, when in fact they are grownups already and should already know, even without laws, that when they allow themselves to enjoy some alcohol they should not be driving. While most drunk drivers don’t cause problems or at least don’t get caught, its no so bad that we have this “worry area” set up for them in the frame of zero percent to .10 percent (or whatever the limits are). This “worry area” is a good thing, it makes them think twice before they drive and drink. For most adults they only need to think once. But for those who really don’t want to exercise as much control over themselves and their personal wants then this bit of worry about getting caught is a good thing. It takes out those who do need to think twice and then not drive drunk. You’re offering those who have even less self control than those who had to think twice before not drunk driving an elaborate way to get a little more of a chance to exercise a little less self control. The people in that group are a smalll percentage of the population, this law would cater to them only. And its so complex, and the burden of creating a way to manage these additional endorsements on a drivers license and the extra bit of wrangling in court over those who were in dispute if they were really not legally drunk or not seems a little bit much. The bottom line is that drinking isn’t that important in any given moment. Its always something that an adult can thoroughly plan out. Theres no such thing as “emergency drinking” where one had to inject alcohol against their will or in response to something. There isn’t any valid reason to say you had to drink. Without the need to actually have to drink, ever, it all moves into the realm of personal choice. And in that realm, asking an adult to be responsible and not drive when they have alcohol in their body isn’t unreasonable. Nor is asking them to postpone their drinking until they do not need to drive is also not unreasonable. To ask them to stop drinking and wait until their body has processed the alcohol completely before they drive is also not unreasonable. If they don’t want to sit and wait it out at the place they are at untill they are completely sober and able to drive, they are an adult and knew before they began drinking at the place they are at that they might not want to wait till they were comepletly sober before they left, its still not unreasonable to remember that drinking is totally voluntary on their part and can always be stopped when they know they won’t want to wait till they are sober again to leave where the are. They know this in advance. Its not unreasonable to ask adults to manage their desires about something like this, something that is totally in the realm of personal choice, where no one demands one drink, where knowledge if the effects of alcohol are already known to the person. Its not unreasonable to ask adults to allow themselves to review what they already know about drinking and then to manage their desire to drink such that there isn’t ever any problem that they will find themselves on a road driving drunk. And they will never have to worry if they are in blood test range or exceed it. They can drink anytime they want, they also already know all i’ve written here. So whats wrong with asking adults to enjoy drinking when they are not going to drive and to not drive until their body no longer has alcohol in it? This is within the ability of every adult and doesn’t restrict them from enjoying alcohol, it just asks that they always think ahead and plan properly. This isn’t unreasonable at all. Now, of course if drinking is made mandatory then some changes will have to be made to accomodate this new situation, but until there are laws which require drinking that don’t provide adequate time for the human body to process all the alcohol out before they must drive again i don’t see much need to change the laws at this time. Do you?

    • James says:

      I made a great effort to read and understand your post. I read it twice. I’m tempted to ask if you were drinking when you wrote it. Please try to separate your points with paragraphs. Also, it seems you repeated points and only have a loose knowledge of drunk driving laws.
      Society, in general, drinks and drives, usually with no mishap. It’s revenue generation that has proliferated the arrest rate in DUI cases. In the USA a first time offender can expect about $15,000.00 worth of expenses and 3 years of limitations before resuming a normal life.
      This is a business enterprise, supported by mainstream advertising, compelling public opinion to accept it as normal.
      If I were to suggest setting up roadblocks to prevent gangbangers from entering my neighborhood there would be widespread outcries against profiling. Gangbangers kill a lot of people here in the Chicago area. But there is no money in locking up these people, whereas there is plenty of money in DUI’s. So a DUI roadblock on Super Bowl Sunday is ok where you cannot set up a roadblock to keep illegally armed gangbangers out of my neighborhood.
      Please understand I’m not advocating drunk driving. I am just tired of the pretense that all the DUI efforts are “for the people” when they clearly are not in the mainstream people’s interests at all.

      • dan says:

        I had not trouble reading the post. I have no trouble reading yours either. Your points are simply on the other side. The problem with your points is they…mhm…appear disingenious. You make the point that society in general drinks and drives without mishap. So what? its a cost-benefit thing. the ones that create mishap cost too much. So socienty prohibits. This is not a new concept. You may dislike preventive measure but society is full of them. you are also not allowed to have sex with a minor. The presumption is you might have a negative effect on them. But some manage to engage illegally (or merely immoraly if they are over a certain age in some places) in sex with these people who then go on to have perfectly normal lives. Do we take the chance? No. we prohibit some things.

        As for the roadblocks for gangs surely you jest? If gangs are a problem in your hood the guns are already there. A roadblock would be useless. Not to mention your constitution’s prohibition on such a search. A DUI roadblock doesnt make everyone blow. It just mkes those that are suspect do the blowfish thing. They already got over a specific probable cause issue. How would you differentiate at this theoretical gangbang roadblock? Or would you search everyone?

        Calling it a business interest is nice, but its just rhetoric. So is the ‘compelling public opinion’. Yes. pretty much. It got tougher to drink and drive because people decided it was a good idea. You can’t say people like it in one paragraph then say its not in their interest in another. its not in your interest. cool. we get that. But if they decide one thing don’t try to argue that your way is their interest. won’t fly.

        • Charles Platt says:

          “you are also not allowed to have sex with a minor.” There is no nationwide agreement on the definition of age of consent, and internationally, the disparities are even greater. This is precisely the same point which was made originally about “drunk driving.” The definition has changed and is not based on anything tangible. Dan, you have persistently ignored this central issue. You just keep repeating your vague generalization that there is nothing wrong with preventive law.

          The initial change in DUI legislation prompted by MADD may have been motivated by a well-intentioned desire to save lives, but it has led to violations of normal due process, and intolerable prohibitions on valid forms of legal defense, itemized in the URL that was originally supplied. Did you read that, Dan? You have not addressed these specifics either. You are just happy with the way things are, and you seem to content to repeat this endlessly.

          James’s point that DUIs raise more revenues is well taken. There is absolutely no doubt that where I live, the primary goal of local police is to see any kind of infraction that will justify a breath test (or, even better, an excuse to call in a drug-sniffing dog and seize the vehicle and all cash that it may contain–but that’s a separate issue). Citizen safety is of virtually no interest. “Protecting the children” is of virtually no interest (although always a useful excuse).

  22. Beat says:

    drunken drivers kill people (or do we have to argue about that too). There must be a way to measure drunkenness, even when it’s not very accurate. So you are basically whining abount not being able to get two things you at once, because the measurement is “inaccurate, unfair, blah blah you nameit”.

    Why should a policy be wrong, just because it cannot account for all possible impairments? That’s just a lame excuse for being unresponsible while driving.

    Stop whining, drink your beer, take responsibility, call a cab.

  23. James says:

    Dan,
    I beg to differ on several points.
    1) In my opinion it is not right to set up roadblocks to interfere with the normal activity of the citizenry.
    2) There are indeed highly publicized ads regarding DUI.
    3) DUI is widely publicized here in the USA as being 0.08 BAC when in fact the police WILL arrest you at the 0.04 BAC level.
    4) Gangs are indeed a huge problem in Chicago and members are easily identified. Police are not tasked with taking them off the streets in the same manner as drunk drivers.
    If drunk drivers were treated the same way, the only drunk drivers who would be sought after and arrested would be those who had injured or killed someone.
    5) There are no ads warning gangbangers to not be part of a gang or suffer being exposed at a roadblock.
    6) There are no fines associated with being a gangbanger such as there are fines for drunk driving.
    7) There were no laws against drunk driving until the late 1950’s while there were laws regarding accidents, injuries and deaths on the road that seemed quite capable of dealing with those that did harm.
    8) Today’s DUI laws incorporate not only punitive criminal fines, but also punitive fees regarding the Sec. of State and counseling.
    9) It’s a big business.

    • dan says:

      Ill start with 5
      5) of course there are no ads for gangbangers! its well known that it is illegal. clearly not everyone knows about drunk driving because so many plead ignorance or mistake. The very arguments here advocating against shows that some people dont think its wrong or think it shouldnt be wrong.
      6) there are criminal charges instead. carrying an illegal weapon is a crime. hanging around and looking menacing isnt. Drinking and driving is also prohibited. whats the point
      7) there are plenty of things that used to be permitted before but we realized that was a problem. just because we didnt do it that way in the good old days doesnt make it right. or wrong. by your argument we should have just cast everything in stone back in the 1950s.
      8) I have no clue what point you are trying to make
      9) you and others are calling it a big business as if thats an excuse. there are fines and $$ penalties for everything.There are fines all over the highway code. And all over municipal codes. Policing is a business. why would you think you could just single this one out? Don’t want it to be a big business? then push for higher taxes lol. getting rid of DUI fines won’t make that much of a dent. they will just up the admin fees somewhere else.

      • James says:

        ” Policing is a business ” Thanks for admiting it and verifying my points. If the Police were really there to “Serve and Protect” it would not be a business.
        Sadly, you made some points which are relevant today and aren’t acted upon.
        “carrying an illegal weapon is a crime. hanging around and looking menacing isnt.” and as quoted there are no police roadblocks i.e. no police simply stopping and searching these ‘menacing’ bangers and yet they have no problem stopping any and all Citizen drivers, no matter their behavior, with roadblocks.
        It truly is a business and Citizens who drink a bit have money to pay and the gang bangers only cost the system dollars as we incarcerate them, pay for their upkeep and medical and dental needs, and eventually turn them loose again.
        As you yourself admitted, “Policing is a business”.

        • dan says:

          good. we all agree. Now do you have an alternative to policing being a business other than subsidizing the police budget via higher taxes? No? I didn’t think so. You can’t escape this one. Don’t even try to escape by saying that you can get rid of police roadblocks and other ‘business’ functions because that wont work at all to reduce budgets. they are revenue-generating functions by your own admission. you don’t reduce budgets by getting rid of revenue. So come up with a way to cover the police budgets without these revenues. You can’t. So raise taxes. go ahead and raise taxes.

  24. James says:

    As for my earlier points. I’d really like to hear your explanation for the national advertising campaign and roadside signs that advertise 0.08 BAC as the legal limit while police routinely cite Citizens for 0.04 BAC as being DUI. That doesn’t even mention the rare, but real, occurences of DUI’s being cited for Citizens using legally prescribed drugs. Yes, I’m not sure you know this but it is true. You can be legally taking a Doctors prescribed substance and end up with a DUI.

    • dan says:

      First of all, I’d love to see a real case involving .04 as DUI. Not just ‘my brother’s cousin’s friend’ anectdotes. I dont see a single statute using .04.

      Second, of course there should be real occurrences of DUI for citizens using legally prescribed drugs! you want someone with seven demerols in them weaving down the road eyes half closed in a lovely dreamy state? or someone who is unusually sensitive to Demerol (I wish I was) nuked on a single pill ? It says on the bottle to be careful. the pharmacist tells you to be careful. ‘caution might cause impairment’. well doh! if you take a legally prescribed drug and are detected as driving weird then of course you should be charged. You don’t get detected unless you are doing something to be detected.

      This is the counter-example to ‘millions of people drive under the influence and are ok”. the person who gets a DUI for driving under the influence of a prescribed drug is impaired. you can’t have it both ways dude. p.s. Demerol is just an example. You can substitute morphine, codeine, cyclobenzapriene or charlie sheen. (in some states charlie sheen may already be illegal consult your doctor and local law enforcement).

      • James says:

        You can find the BAC statute in the ILL vehicle code 11-501.2 to my surprise it wasn’t 0.04 but 0.05, not much difference but I thought I should point it out.
        Forget about the obvious prescriptions, the xanax etc. if you take daily blood pressure medicine such as Lisinipril and it says may cause drowsiness on the side of the bottle (which it does) you can get a DUI.

        • dan says:

          since there is no roadside blow test for Linisinipril and since it is known to cause drowsiness I must assume that in order to get a DUI one must be observably impaired. So you are suggesting that someone impaired enough (and knowing better) should NOT get a DUI? this boggles the mind.

          I did not know about the Illinois statute. Ill check it out. thanks.

          • James says:

            “Are you taking any medication” is in the top few questions any officer will ask during a traffic stop. I’m not talking about the roadblocks here, but about routine traffic stops for minor offenses. If you were to answer yes (which I highly recommend you don’t) the officer will initiate the process to determine if you legally qualify as someone they can charge with DUI.
            Dan, I really don’t want to argue with you. I agree with you that silly drunk people should not be behind the wheel. I’m just trying to let others know that these laws are used for additional purposes going far beyond simply safeguarding the public and most of the public really has no idea how these laws work until it’s too late.

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