mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Have one for the road...

When I saw this brief entry in WSJ's Taste Page about a group of bar owners complaining about GM's support of MADD, which in turn has supported the 0.8 BAC, I thought "go bar owners". I'm glad to see I'm not the only one with this thought - Andrew Stuttaford at NRO has similar thoughts

Drunk driving tends to be seen as a universal bad, so anyone who goes against drunk driving laws is seen as promoting a deadly behavior. Going against MADD is like being for running puppies through blenders.

But MADD isn't just against drunk driving anymore - they are against any drinking and driving. Their website like to say things like there is no "safe" amount of alcohol for drivers. Arguably, even one drink impairs you. But so does listening to the radio, talking on your cell phone, drinking a cup of coffee, yelling at your kids in the backseat, being tired, angry, upset, or happy, or a million other things that aren't, and shouldn't, be regulated.

I have no problem with going after very drunk drivers. But the dangerous drivers - the ones who cause lots of crashes - have much higher BAC's - the MADD at GM website says 0.19 is the average BAC for drunk drivers in fatal crashes.

I've never driven drunk. At least, I don't think I have. But with the ever-falling BAC, it's easy to to not be sure if you are over the limit. The fact that lots of drivers probably stop after one or two beers because they don't want to risk being over an arbitrary limit probably does hurt bar owners.

MADD has lots of stats on their website. Many of them are obvious statements presented as if they are stunning revelations, which makes me think MADD members don't get out much. They reveal, for example, that beer is the most popular alcoholic beverage, and that teenagers tend to drink at parties while older people tend to drink at bars. Gee, I wonder why. But other stats demand closer examination, like their frequent use of "alchohol-involved crash". Accidents will frequently have more than one cause, so if someone with a couple drinks in them driving a car with no brakes or headlights hits a deer at night in the rain, it's an alcohol-involved crash despite the other factors.

One other thought is that MADD will frequently profile an unusually tragic drunk-driving crash - the guy whose been drinking for 36 hours and hits a kid playing in the street kind of thing. But their own stats point out that most "drunk driving" takes place at nights, especially on weekends. If your kid is out at 2 in the morning on a Saturday night, they have bigger problems than drunk drivers.

Another problem with drunk-driving enforcement is that it gives cops an excuse to do things like set up drunk driving checkpoints - which is an inconvinience to motorists, an excuse to write lots of tickets for stupid things, and a chance to invade motorist's privacy. Autoblog has a short article and link to a longer one profiling one such checkpoint. Total drunk drivers caught? Zero, but they did get to write lots of other tickets.

I would like to see a reasonable debate over drunk driving, with some cost-benefit analysis, some proper perspective, and less attempts to make every person who has a drink and drives home out to be a mass-murderer. I'm not sure if the MADD AT GM campaign will do much - the site is long on pseudo-sensational exposes about GM and short on stats and good argument - but at least it starts a dialog.


At 6:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

DWI, drunk driving, dui, and a license to drink.
Madd, sadd, radd, A.A., and Alanon related.

Copyright: 1987-2005 © Bruce Alm. Documentation is available.

The answer to the problem of drunk driving, etc. could be this; a permit for the purchase and consumption of alcohol beverages.

This would not only be a major assault on the problem of drunk driving, but would also have an effect on virtually all other crimes such as these;
murder, rape, assault, burglary, robbery, suicide, vandalism, wife beating, child beating, child molestation, the spread of aids, college binge drinking, animal cruelty, etc., the list is endless.

If this proposition was made law, there could be a major reduction in all these areas of concern, even though the emphasis concerning alcohol abuse seems to be drunk driving in particular.

There could also be many other positive results;

families healed, better work performance, booze money spent on products that would help the economy (we've all heard of the guy who spends half his check in the bar on payday,) would spare many health problems, etc.

This new law could go something like this:

Any person found guilty of any crime where drinking was a factor would lose the right to purchase and/or consume alcohol beverages.

For a first misdemeanor, a three year revocation. a second misdemeanor, a ten year revocation. a third misdemeanor, a lifetime revocation. Any felony crime, an automatic lifetime revocation.
Anyone caught drinking alcohol without a permit would receive a possible $1000 fine and/or jail sentence. those who would supply alcohol to people without a drinking permit (and possibly make money at it,) would also lose his/her right to purchase alcohol beverages.

What wife or husband would buy an alcoholic spouse a bottle?

What friend would give a problem drinker a drink at the possible cost of a thousand bucks and the loss of their own privilege? This could be a total discouragement to these would-be pushers.

This permit doesn't seem as though it would be a problem to put into effect. It could simply be a large X, or whatever, on the back of any drivers license in any state, to show who has been revoked, and cannot purchase alcohol.

Most people of drinking age have a driver's license, but one area that might be a problem could be New York City, where many people don't drive.

This problem could be resolved, however, by a license-type I.D. specifically for the purchase of alcohol beverages. Most, if not all states have these already for the purpose of identification.
This could be a small price to pay for the saved lives of thousands of Americans each and every year.

After this, it would simply be a matter of drinking establishments checking I.D.s at the time of purchase.
In the case of crowded bars, they could simply check I.D.s at the door, as they do now.

Would this be a violation of rights?

There can be no argument here since they already check I.D.s of people who look as though they may not be old enough to drink.

This could be a good saying, "If a person who doesn't know how to drive shouldn't have a license to drive, a person who doesn't know how to drink shouldn't have a license to drink."

Here are some other pluses to this idea:

A good percentage of people in correctional institutions are there because of alcohol related offences . Because of this, court, penal, and law enforcement costs could drop dramatically.

The need for A.A., ALANON, MADD, SADD, etc., could be greatly diminished as well.

What the alcoholic fears most, is the temptation to have that first drink, usually a spur of the moment type thing. Without the ability to do this, he/she is fairly safe. To start drinking again would almost have to be planned in advance. and to maintain steady drinking would be extremely difficult, in most cases.

Even though A.A. members as a group don't become involved in political movements, it seems as individuals, they would all be in favor of a situation like this. Any person who wants to quit drinking, even if never having been in trouble with the law, could simply turn in their license for the non-drinking type.

A woman from MAAD, on the NBC TODAY show, said "One out of every ten Americans has a drinking problem, and that 10% consumes 60% of all alcohol beverages sold in the U.S.."
If this is true, there could be financial problems for breweries, liquor stores, bars, rehab centers, etc., as well as lawyers, massive amounts of tax revenue 'down the drain,' and so on.
But it doesn't seem as though anyone would have a valid argument against a proposal such as this for financial reasons. To do so would be morally wrong, and could be likened to a drug-pusher attitude.

Even with the problems this new law could present, it still could, in one sense, be considered the simple solution to the number one drug problem in the U.S. and elsewhere. Alcoholism.


What ever happened to the skid row drunk?

At 12:00 AM, Blogger mad anthony said...

wow, that is quite possibly the stupidest thing I have ever read.

And way to post an article advocating additional regulation on drinking on a blog post about how there should be less regulation on drinking and driving.

At 4:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Bruce,
Have to agree, your comment is the least informed one I have read. Now, it does sound like government control of alcohol which ummm did not work before so you really should read your history.

I do like the way you associate every problem in the world with alcohol; did that flash of brilliance come during a drinking binge?

I am going to have a drink and commit some act of licentiousness.


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