Legalize Drunk Driving!

theCL  2010-11-17  Op-Ed, Prohibition, Rights

Many moons ago, during the summer between 7th and 8th grades, I was involved in a violent accident. I was run-over.

My skull was cracked wide-open, both legs were broken, multiple ribs broken, my shoulder was scraped down to the bone (and then some), among many other injuries suffered. I was unconscious for 3 days. Endured multiple surgeries. It took almost 3 weeks before I could even start to comprehend what happened. It was 6 months later before I healed enough to learn to walk again. I missed the first half of 8th grade. 30 years later, I'm still scarred from head to toe. It is without exaggeration that I say I'm lucky to be alive.

The driver who hit me was stone sober. No alcohol, no drugs, nothing. Clean as a whistle.

Now, let me ask you ... What difference did the guy's sobriety make? Why on Earth would I even care about the content of the perpetrator's blood? Did his sobriety somehow, someway, as if by magic, make the severe injuries I suffered more palatable? Of course not! His sobriety wasn't worth a hill of beans.

Every crime committed by a drunk driver is still a crime when committed by a sober driver. Reckless driving is no more acceptable from a sober driver than it is from a drunk driver. Manslaughter is manslaughter. Damage is damage. Crime is crime. Since sobriety doesn't make a crime any more palatable than drunkenness makes it worse, what's the point of drunk driving laws?

But, but ... the probability of a drunk driver committing a crime is greater than that of a sober driver. OK, now we're getting somewhere ...

We're punishing probabilities - statistics - not actual crimes.

Are you sure you want the government, in our (supposedly) free society, dealing in probabilities rather than actual crime? Are we really willing to lock people up because they may (or may not) commit an actual crime?

What about the sober driver who hit me? Should he have been arrested prior to the accident too, since there was a probability that he'd commit a crime sober (as he did)? Should all drivers go to jail as a precaution? Hey, since anyone behind the wheel is capable of killing someone on the spot, maybe we should just criminalize driving altogether. What do you think?

The driver who hit me didn't go to jail, nor did I press charges. He was badly injured in the accident too. Suing him would have solved nothing. Throwing him in jail would have solved nothing.

Yet, if he had been drunk, he would have gone to jail. Why? What difference would that make? None. Zip. Zero ... other than destroy his life ... which couldn't possibly be good for society.

Sobriety doesn't make a crime more palatable. Drunkenness doesn't make a crime worse. So, what's the point of drunk driving laws?

In truth, drunk driving laws have nothing to do with actual crime and everything to do with prohibition. What has been criminalized is an arbitrary amount of drinking, not actual harm to people or property. Literally, the content of your blood has been criminalized!

You no longer own yourself. Your blood is not yours. You belong to the State.

A government that can regulate your blood content has total control over you. It owns you. You are cattle. So, how long before it declares the "right" to regulate the amount of broccoli in your blood stream? Because if it can regulate the alcohol content of your blood, it can surely regulate the amount of broccoli in your blood too.

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  • Chuck Moon

    Wow! I never considered DWI from that perspective. This view puts it on a par with a murderer serving more time because his victim was a police officer--or the countless "hate crime" laws that make a crimes' punishment worse on account of motive.
    Very insightful. Thanks.

    • theCL

      Well yeah … Whether you kill a cop or a janitor, you committed murder. The perpetrators deserve the same sentence and same jail cell. It’s not like killing a janitor is somehow less of a crime. Oh, he was a janitor, that’s OK then. Or race … What are we trying to say? Oh, he murdered that janitor in cold blood, but it’s OK because it wasn’t race motivated? So what?

  • John Doe

    Oh, you are sooooo wrong. Drunk driving is a crime because it drastically increases the chances of an accident. It's like shooting a gun towards an occupied house. You are free to shoot all you like, just not at an occupied house. Sure, you might accidentally shoot somebody when you are not aiming at an occupied dwelling, but the chances are drastically increased when you are aiming at such dwelling. If you hit somebody while shooting at such a dwelling, that has an increased penalty tacked on (manslaughter/murder/whatnot), but the very dangerous act of driving under the influence, er I mean of shooting towards the occupied building, is a crime unto itself.

    And YES, the law does distinguish between the careless/negligent act of a sober person and those of a drunk. Everybody screws up occasionally, but getting drunk is an intentional act, and driving drunk drastically increases the possibility of screwing up. The law treats negligence differently than reckless and wanton behavior, and even more stringently it treats intentional behavior. It is the difference between running a red light that you did not know existed, and recklessly seeing that the light was going to be red by the time you entered the intersection, but you hoped that you could make it any way, to actually seeing somebody in a car and swerving to hit them intentionally. The law treats each action progressively worse. In each case, the wrongdoer is treated differently, even though the injured person might be hurt just as bad or worse in any of the situations.

    What you are really doing is saying that you know more than millions of thinkers before you who have studied the situation. Our law is called "the common law" and was passed down to us from centuries ago from the English, with each great mind looking at it and improving it. Not trying to insult you, but you are a bacteria on a flea on a hair on the proverbial elephant's ass. So am I. ;)

    • theCL

      We don't follow common law, we practice tyrant's law. We should follow constitutional law, but we don't. Remember the words of Thomas Jefferson, "law is often but the tyrant's will."

      I covered "probabilities" in the post. Shooting at someone's house isn't an act of probability, its an act of deliberate violence. Drunk driving laws are the arbitrary regulation of the content of a person's blood.

      It all goes back to my accident. Whether the guy was drunk or sober means nothing to me. I was severely injured either way. His sobriety means absolutely nothing. Throwing him in jail if he had been drunk would solve absolutely nothing. Sobriety does not make a crime and/or accident more palatable. It doesn't.

      • John Doe

        On some topics you are learned far beyond me, but in this instance you are not. The Constitution was enacted to limit the Federal Government, not the states. When the Constitution was enacted, every state in the nation (save Louisiana) followed the Common Law (unless it was specifically amended by acts of the legislature of each state). Your statement that we practice "tyrant's law" is nonsense--this is the way it has been since the inception of this country. You are really saying that just because you got run over as a yute you therefore know more than Jefferson and Washington and Madison. I for one ain't buying it. And it isn't just about you, or any other victim. It is about how we are going to run a civilized country. Are we going to allow a bunch of drunks to drive enebriated because TheCL has this fetish about lawless licentiousness, or are we going to forbid certain activities that have been proven beyond all doubt--except to total idiots--to be harmful to innocent victims.

        Let's stretch your "reasoning" a little further. Let's eliminate stop signs--after all, that limits your precious little "freedom" to plough through intersections. And let's do away with speed limits, lest we limit poor little old TheCL's precious "freedom." It is not all about you and your freedom. What you do in private is your business, unless you do something that endangers others. What you do in public is your business, so long as you obey certain rules and regulations that are reasonably related to protecting the rights of others.

        I'm sorry you were injured, but it really isn't about you, and whether you would have been just as injured by a non-enebriated driver. It is about protecting the public at large from a known substantial risk. There are certain risks that are so slight that reasonable persons can disagree about whether or not they should be made illegal. This is not one of them, and frankly, you are making yourself look stubborn and unwilling to listen to reason. It's your blog, and it is not my reason for being to correct your incorrect notions, so I'll say no more on this topic. Just consider the slight possibility that you have taken an assinine position on this issue...

        • theCL

          Um, the "tyrant's law" is hyperbole, not legalese. I'd go through the points you made but I'm not sure anymore if you read the original post, because I was hit by a "non-inebriated driver." It's his sobriety that didn't mean shit. One brief reply ...

          that limits your precious little “freedom” to plough through intersections

          Who in the hell thinks that is a freedom? Talk about a red herring.

          Any crime committed by a drunk is equally a crime (as in actually injures person or property) when done by someone sober. This is what should be dealt with via law, not probabilities. When you make probabilities law, you are bound to punish many people who never harmed a soul, which is immoral.

          • John Doe

            You miss the point, so you call it a red herring. Let me try again. Running a stop sign doesn't hurt anybody. It is only when they hit somebody else who had the lawful right-of-way that they harm somebody. A driver could theoretically run 100 stop signs without causing any harm. Likewise, a drunk driver could theoretically drive 1000x without causing injury to another. Using the analytical frame-work that you devised for the drunk driving issue, to be analytically uniform, we ought not punish drivers from running stop signs, but only when they actually harm somebody. NO, NOOOO NOOOOOOOOOOOO, 1000x No. It is the action itself that drastically increases the potential for harm. The driver who runs a stop sign increases the potential for harm exactly as does the driver who drives under the influence. That is an apt analogy, not a red herring.

            One might argue that a driver who runs a stop sign is actually violating a traffic law, whilst a drunk driver might actually obey all the traffic laws. But that argument would ignore the fact that one of the traffic laws forbids driving while intoxicated.

            The fact that your driver was not inebriated is irrelevent. We base our laws on what is best for society, not individual instances. That was my point about it not being about you.

            I'm guessing that you and maybe 100 other people in the entire country believe that allowing people to drive drunk is a good thing and should be legalized. You seem to relish being outside the mainstream of civilized thought. Being a rebel is a great thing in my book, but sometimes it can be taken to extremes and make one appear foolish.

            It's okay to occasionally admit that somebody else made a good point, or that you learned something that you had not previously thought of, and to change your opinion. Such is not a sign of weakness, but of strength.

            • disqus_Zosw9A9eYQ

              Both of you have good points. People that kill another person drinking and driving should go to jail for murder. Not do 3-5 for manslaughter. On the flip side of that, does someone that leaves the key in the ignition while sleeping it off in a parking lot deserve to lose everything? The "justice" system is a business like everything else. Its more expensive to judge each case individually so everyone's lumped into one of a few punishments. Most of them unreasonable. Forcing people to do AA/NA meetings multiple times a week that don't want to be there is counter productive to people who actually use AA/NA to aid them in recovery. It is also counter productive to offenders. Forcing problem drinkers with no desire to change into a room together to listen to views they do not agree with has no positive effects. Also you need to see a CADC which costs around $100/week. For most americans getting to multiple appointments a week with no license and comming up with the cash for counseling (which has no proven success) is next to impossible. That's not including fines, legal fees, and other penalties. All the while the person either lost their job or are forced to work for close to minimum wage. Dui laws are not designed by "millions of thinkers" they are the product of intense lobbying from the most biased groups. Can a mother that lost a child to drunk driving ever look at the subject objectively? "A thousand times NO"! There are no groups for the ethical treatment of dui offenders. The federal government strongarms states to increase penalties by taking away public works funding.

        • theCL

          The penalty for running a stop sign vs. driving drunk is an apples and oranges comparison. Nor am I arguing anyone be allowed to break basic traffic rules, drive recklessly, etc. If drinking makes one drive recklessly, bust em! If sobriety makes one drive recklessly, again, bust 'em!

          The fact that your driver was not inebriated is irrelevent.

          Just as it would be irrelevant if he had been drunk. Same thing.

          believe that allowing people to drive drunk is a good thing

          But I haven't argued that drunk driving is "good thing," only that it is an arbitrary law. There are laws in place already to handle every bad thing a drunk (or sober) driver does wrong. There's no need or benefit to piling on.

          I'll continue this with another post soon.

        • lewis

          I think that he is leaving out a key point. (correct me if I'm wrong) If some guy has 3 beers and is driving fine, thats not the issue. If a different guy drank 3 beers and is driving recklessly, then he is commenting a crime. same thing would go for someone who is sober. If a sober guy is driving recklessly then he should be treaded the same way as the guy who is driving recklessly drunk.

          That being said, TheCL does have an extreme view on the topic. I would like to see a little bit more discretion with DUI laws (not so cut a dry with the whole .o8 crap). If your putting other people in danger it doesn't matter if your drunk or not.

          • theCL

            Yes. Driving recklessly is the crime, not drunkeness. My accident is simply an example to show that a sober guy can cause just as much damage as a drunk guy. His being sober didn't help the situation one iota. He walked free. If he had been drunk he would have gone to jail. That's not justice, but arbitrary rule. Same crime, 2 different punishments.

            Pretty much every adult American has driven above a .08 BAC. It's almost impossible not to do it. Studies have shown driving with kids in the car makes you more dangerous than a person with a .08 BAC. This is arbitrary. Some people really can "handle their liquor" better than others too. So again, it's the reckless driving, speeding, running stop signs, etc. that are the actual crimes, not the drinking itself.

  • H. C. Baker

    There was an article in the local news a few months ago about a man who was arrested and convicted for agreeing, online, to meet a police officer for sex who was posing as a thirteen-year old girl. I argued with my friends that no crime had occurred. If it had been a real live girl, he might have backed out. A thief is not a thief until he steals. A murderer is not a murderer until he kills. Come to think of it, my 85-year old mother is not a terrorist until she blows herself up on an airplane, but TSA treats her like a terrorist anyway.

  • Steve Dennis

    First, thank you for directing me to this post over at Political Realities. I do consider myself a libertarian at heart, but have not been able to commit myself to the whole movement.
    I have asked around several libertarian blogs over the years this drunk driving question but nobody has answered it for me but now finally I have something to think about on this issue. I had never thought about it as punishing probabilities, but that is exactly what this is. I have often thought about the scenario that HC Baker mentioned in the first comment and how a man was basically entrapped and arrested while no crime had yet been committed and it seems as if drunk driving would fall under the same category. I am going to have to think about this some more, thanks for making me think.

    • theCL

      You know, this is a more controversial subject, therefore I wouldn't recommend basing your opinion about libertarianism on it. Start with the basics. Natural rights, natural law, and "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

      Libertarianism isn't a moral code or a way of life. It deals strictly with man, state, and the use of violence in society. For example, my morals come from my Lutheran faith, not the law. Furthermore, some things, such as vice, are spiritual problems that belong to God, not the state. There are certainly things I find immoral, don't do, and advise others not to as well, but that doesn't necessarily follow that these should be illegal. After all, the very nature of law is violence.

      More controversy ...

      Maybe my neighbor smokes pot. Maybe I advise him not to do so, pray for him, help him kick the habit any way I can. Help him as a Christian in a Christian way.

      But if it's illegal, instead of helping him, I'm inviting cops to come over, stop him from smoking at the point of a gun, handcuff him, drag him out of his home and lock him in a cage, then steal his property (fine him).


      It is my belief that most conservatives are actually libertarians. But the partisan/electoral circus clouds our vision.

  • rebecca

    How about a compromise? These have to be come to anyway in any group of people, whether or not the negotiating is delegated (one platonic notion of government's purpose and genesis). How about a drunk lane? It would be acceptable to pull out of it temporarily if a fast drunk is coming up behind, assuming all risks of course just as one would within it. It could be slightly wider, with noise grooves on either side.

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