Okay MG, but this doesn't come natural to me. I'm just a dour guy.
According to this pie chart, 39% of accidents involved alcohol five years ago. By '02 it was down to 31%. But that still seems a suspectly high number. Especially when you consider all the strident anti-drunk driving rhetoric and stepped-up law enforcement.
As usual the common sense perspective is correct. To see why we need to deconstruct all the overblown, self-serving, alarmist stats propogated by MADD (Mean Angry Dried-up Dames.) First, they count all accidents, even minor fender benders. Plus when they list it as "alcohol related," that only means that one or more of the injured parties had traces of booze in their systems. These would include pedestrians and passengers. So if a drunk is staggering around a bus stop and gets pancaked by a sober driver who ran a red light, it's "alcohol related." Same goes for the designated driver who's driving a carload of drunks home from a party and wraps the car around a utility pole.
When the offending driver has been drinking, authorities presume that to be the sole cause. But of course all accidents are by definition multi-factorial. And in cases involving low BACs it is physiologically unlikely to have even been a contributing factor.
What about people tooling around on mind-bending quantities of legal prescription drugs? They're usually far more impaired than those on booze, pot or coke. Why then is there no witch hunt against them? For that matter, what about those wanton killers who drive while talking on cell phones, giving or receiving oral, strumming guitar or turning around to yell at their kids? Or worse, those guilty of DWO?
We also need to consider issues of dependance and tolerance. Who're the people driving around drunk these days? Drunks---that's who---people with years of experience doing it. Of necessity they've learned not to weave. To avoid being pulled over they keep their lights working, inspections up to date etc. They drink coffee to at least be an alert drunk. They've learned to close one eye when seeing double. A seasoned drunk driver is thus far less likely to cause an accident. That's why so many of us stay home on New Year's Eve, cowering in fear of being killed by amateur drunk drivers.
I bring all this up because my state has just enacted the most Draconian drunk driving laws in the world. A .008 (4 beers in 2 hours) will get your licence revoked for a year, first timer or not. Blow a .02 and you'll land in jail for 5 days, have your car seized and have to pay $500 to install a Breathalyzer ignition kit. Habitual offenders will be rounded up and shot en masse. They'll then be pushed into Serb-style mass graves. (BTW, isn't it time we stopped wasting valuable suburban real estate on individualized graves?)
But that's not the worst part. Drunk driving Gestapo storm troopers have set up random checkpoints on every corner. They will force all drivers to submit to time-consuming testing. Thanks to a Supreme Court ruling, they can now bypass your Constitutional presumption of innocence just for taking the wheel. By virtue of simply being on the road you're presumed guilty. No longer do universally corrupt police need probably cause to, in effect, perform a full body cavity search on all citizens at will.
It won't work any more than murderous efforts to persuade Afghan farmers to stop growing poppies or Columbians to stop farming coca. These are immutable issues that will never go away. But it appeases the Dried-up Dames for a while and that is all that matters in the end.
What state do you live in, Anna? I haven't heard anything about a law that strict.
It seems like forcing everyone to take a breathalyzer test is a bit over the top. More to the point, a strict blood alchohol against which everyone is tested seems short-sighted.
For example: an hour or two after he gets up is probably the only time my father could be considered *legally* sober, but I spent a good portion of my childhood riding shotgun while he nursed a beer firmly wedged into his crotch. I never felt unsafe.
There were times when he was *drunk,* and there were times when he was just ... normal drunk. He knew better than to drive around dangerously drunk and only did so a very few times.
Epilogue: He got nabbed for speeding some time last year. It turns out he had been without a license for over ten years due to a previous DD conviction (I think it was only suspended for a year or so, but he just never got it renewed) and had no insurance.
The fine was somewhere in the ballpark of $1200 (which was later reduced), but if the trooper had bothered to do a breathalyzer test, I'm sure my dad would've had his license suspended until just after the sun burns out, even though the only real threat he was presenting to other drivers was that he was going a little too fast.
by Mike Sheffler at July 14, 2004 2:29 AM
It's Virginia and all I said is more or less the truth. You should hear the sneering radio ads. My dad lived in a similar state. When he let his license lapse at age 60 they made him retake the driving test. He showed up visiby intoxicated. But mostly he was what you describe as "normal drunk." Then again, I once rode with him from his restaurant to our home. It's a distance of about three miles. He went the whole way on the wrong side of a divided highway, crawling along at 10 MPH with customary drinl between legs. Terror is the word, absolute terror.
by anna at July 14, 2004 7:23 AM
The law here sucks the huge one Anna. I'm scared to get in the car for a ride to the store after a couple of beers. You know, you are right about "seasoned" drinkers and driving. I am a seasoned drinker, I would say, and I know when to not get behind the wheel. There is a cut off there and you had better respect it or you will get yourself or, God forbid, someone else killed. I would gladly drink four beers and go to a closed driving course and test myself against someone dead sober. It all depends on your tolerance. I can sympathize with mothers who have lost children to drunk drivers, I have lost loved ones too, but where does it all end. Do you blow a .001 and get executed on the spot?
by Ezy at July 14, 2004 8:02 AM
Wait, what do I have to do with this drunk driving story Anna?
by mg at July 14, 2004 1:15 PM
Touche Ezy I would do the same. It's funny, I used to play tennis with another drunk. We'd have a cooler full of beers. Up to five apiece we both played better. We were looser, I guess. After that it was all downhill.
MG, the post was supposed to be lighthearted and tongue in cheek in the old BS tradition. See your last entry. Just following orders, boss.
by anna at July 14, 2004 6:36 PM
I had a professor in college (this is a year ago now), who was extra-strength cool. One or two of the other math students and I would go to his house once every few months for a night of big-ass barbequed steaks, gallons of booze, and a few rousing rounds of drunken croquet, bocce, and ping pong. My incredible skill at drunken croquet and bocce helped incubate the notion that that I was still master of my finer motorskills while inebriated.
I gained a little bit more respect for drunk driving limits when I tried my hand at drunken low-light ping pong for the first time. The sun was setting (in Oregon, we had this mysterious thing called 'twilight' that doesn't seem to exist here in Los Angeles) as we put the ping-pong table together. Most of the way through my third of fourth strong martini, I volunteered to play in the next game.
Now, I'm a pretty good ping-pong player, but I could barely ever hit the ball, let alone play well. It was both humbling and sobering. I played *so* badly that I was a little alarmed. I felt a little bit better when, some twenty minutes later, I was so drunk that I was getting dizzy and weaving around (on foot, that is).
I would never hop in the car when I was on the *rising* tide of drunkenness, but but the drunken ping-pong episode made me even more conservative about judging my ability to run ping-pong paddles *or* cars while drunk.
Offtopic question: I can't get the bold, italics, link, etc buttons to work in my comments (perhaps because I'm on a mac? I don't know). Anyway, do the comments accept html tags?
by Mike Sheffler at July 15, 2004 12:05 AM
Hey, I like this guy. Welcome Mike S.
As for your question, I sure don't know. You should ask MG.
by anna at July 15, 2004 7:36 AM
I don't know Mike, but I'm running Mozilla and can't get any of that stuff to work either. As Anna said, welcome.
by Ezy at July 15, 2004 8:58 AM
They only work in some combination of IE/Win. I didn't write the script, but as I'm aware, I don't think any exist that are crossbrowser/platform. Sorry.
Comments accept those basic html tags - links, bold, and italics - and blockquote.
by mg at July 15, 2004 10:08 AM
Anna, thanks for the kind words. I've lurked around here for several months, but I've never bothered to comment before. In fact, I lurk at pretty much all the places I frequent online.
About a week ago, just for kicks, I decided to start posting to some various boards/blogs that I read. Typically, my username, or my signature, or whatever includes a link to my site. Well, a few of my posts (to Slashdot, in particular) led about 600 people to my site in the span of a week. I didn't get a single comment.
I expect my friends not to comment (or to leave off-topic comments) because my friends are assholes. But not one in 600 people that I didn't know was willing to comment? That sucks. It's nice to receive some feedback about what one is writing, or at the very least, acknowledgment.
I figured that if people are going to write for this site, I may as well let them know I'm on the other end reading what they have to say. The only thing that generates a warm, fuzzy sense of community as effectively as alcohol is actual community, so I'll try to pull my weight by dropping a comment here and there.
MG, thanks for clearing up the HTML confusion.
by Mike Sheffler at July 16, 2004 6:40 AM
This defence is totaly false. My mom was killed by a drunk driver. Period.
The driver "only had a few bears"
That man is a asshole.
by Dead Mom at March 12, 2005 11:37 PM