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View Full Version : Something to ponder [continued from "Draconian DUI laws"]


shygirl09
07-25-2011, 05:14 PM
For those who think that such harsh punishments are warranted, think about this. You don't have to be legally drunk to get a DWAI, which in some states is treated the same as a DUI. A BAC of .05 is all that is needed to be arrested. That means you could have a glass of red wine at dinner and be above .05. For a female who doesn't weigh much, and doesn't drink much, this is entirely possible. Generally, a restaurant will pour much more than 5oz of wine for a glass, but the charts are basing consumption on 5oz. How many people have had a glass of wine at a restaurant and then driven home? People who are under the impression that they just had one drink with dinner and are not raging alcoholics. When you are convicted of DWAI here are your punishments in Colorado:

Spend the night in jail
Be fingerprinted and booked
pay court fines and attend at least 2 court sessions
do 24 hours of community service
take 24 to 48 hours of alcohol classes
be on probation for 6months to a year
have a permanent criminal record that may affect your ability to work and support your family
do 10 days of in home detention with an ankle monitoring device. If you want to continue to work, you must tell your boss you are wearing the devie so that the officer can call them to make sure you left your home to be at work.
do random breath tests to check for alcohol
pay for and attend a MADD panel meeting
pay lawyer fees of $1500-$4000 if you retain a lawyer


All of these consequences, even if you did not hurt anyone or anything. I think many people assume that people who get a DWAI or a DUI are criminals who drink and drive all the time. This may not be the case. The above consequences apply even if you have a clean driving record and a clean criminal record. I think that this would be enough to push an otherwise law abiding citizen over the edge, and I have seen that happen. People make mistakes, we all do.

If you have ever run a red light, you could have killed someone. Should you be put in jail for that, for what could have happened? Should you face consequencess that take away your bility to support you family? That is what many people with a DWAI have had happen. The terrible thing about that is that good people can give up after going through all the consequences, and as a result, have been fired. They may now be collecting welfare, food stamps, unemployment, and apply for section 8 housing. So basically tax payers end up supporting their families because they lost their job. That doesn't make much sense to me.

I do feel differently for those who are repeat offenders. Those that already have dealt with one offense know exactly how things work and should not even attempt to have one drink with dinner if they are driving. There can be a huge difference between someone who drink and drives all the time, and someone who thought they were carefu,l but made a mistake.

Marley23
07-25-2011, 05:16 PM
This post was split off from this thread, which was started in 2001. (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=57612)

Wesley Clark
07-25-2011, 06:03 PM
Our system works hard to prevent people convicted of crimes from being able to reintegrate into society, which is a shame. But I don't see that changing anytime soon so no idea. We are a morally supercilious culture and reintegration is not something we excel at.

Sleep deprivation causes 100,000 traffic accidents a year, I think about 30,000 end in death. But that really gets no attention. Then again, avoiding sleep deprivation is not as easy as avoiding alcohol. People may have underlying medical problems, or jobs that require too little sleep.

Mr Smashy
07-25-2011, 07:52 PM
Never having heard of a DWAI, I googled it up. This site (http://www.ithacadwi.com/Difference_Between_DWAI_vs_DWI.html) would seem to suggest that they are different offenses (yes, I realize it's some ambulance-chaser's web site).

The primary difference between the charge of DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) and DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired) is that DWI is a criminal misdemeanor and while DWAI is a traffic infraction.

The penalties you've laid out seem to apply to a major crime, like DWI (or DUI? Is there a difference?)

are you sure that your 'one glass of wine', which could generate the DWAI charge, actually has the penalties you list? In Colorado or anywhere else?

As per this (http://www.state.co.us/gov_dir/leg_dir/olls/PDF/COLORADO%20DRUNK%20DRIVING%20LAWS.pdf), it appears that the DWAI penalty is 8 points plus 1-2 days in the clink plus $200-500 fine. I didn't see anything about ankle bracelets, MADD meetings, etc.

UltraVires
07-25-2011, 08:26 PM
I've always said that I have no problems with heavy penalties for DUI so long as people are actually drunk. No more of this .08, make the guy walk a straight line nonsense. No, you pull a guy over, open his car door and he and 3 whiskey bottles fall out, then off to the clink.

And don't give me how you are impaired at .08. You are impaired when you are tired, hungry, or angry in the same manner. Drivers at .08 are not overrepresented in the accident population.

When you catch the real drunks, do what was listed in the OP. Leave regular people who are driving home from dinner the hell alone.

SeldomSeen
07-25-2011, 10:06 PM
All very true. The draconian DUI laws are, in their way as much a witch hunt as the so-called war on drugs. They produce an enormous amount of revenue for municipalities (and police departments) and are actively promoted by the police. After all, they help to justify enormous departmental budgets and manpower increases, and harassing drunks is so much easier than dealing with real criminals.

Bryan Ekers
07-25-2011, 10:09 PM
I'm okay with an exponential scale of punishment.

First DUI: Minor fine.

Second DUI: Week in jail, large fine.

Third DUI: Six months in jail.

Fourth DUI: death.

thelabdude
07-25-2011, 10:36 PM
Back when the feds were ramming the 0.08 down the states' throats., I tried to find any statistics showing that people caught between the 0.08 and 0.10 later caused problems. Such statistics were not available. Many people though my question was irrelevant.

I am sure we have a great body of statistics of blood alcohol levels of people that have caused accidents. Should we use that data to set the legal limit? Quite often in newspaper reports of accidents, they will list the driver's blood alcohol level. I seldom see one below 0.10.

MsRobyn
07-26-2011, 07:44 AM
All very true. The draconian DUI laws are, in their way as much a witch hunt as the so-called war on drugs. They produce an enormous amount of revenue for municipalities (and police departments) and are actively promoted by the police. After all, they help to justify enormous departmental budgets and manpower increases, and harassing drunks is so much easier than dealing with real criminals.

You forgot private companies that lease ignition interlock devices and ankle bracelets, not to mention inpatient and outpatient rehab centers. You didn't think government pays for those things, did you?

One of the things I hate most about the current DUI penalties is that they place an unfair burden on the rest of the offender's family. In Pennsylvania, if an offender is required to have an interlock device, all of the household's cars have to have one. These devices collect a lot of information, which is an invasion of privacy for the people who weren't convicted, and which puts the innocent family member in the position of having to explain their actions, as well as to prove that the offender wasn't in the car, or if s/he was, that s/he wasn't drinking in violation of probation. The innocent family members also have to provide transportation to the offender, which is just as much a punishment to them. We don't lock up a whole family because one person commits robbery, so why are we doing this for DUI?

I think a possible solution would be to require bars to call a cab or allow the patron to arrange his own transportation for every patron who has consumed alcohol, regardless of whether the patron appears intoxicated. I would make this a condition of the bar's liquor license; bars that don't do it would be subject to having their license pulled. I also think that bartenders should be licensed or go through some other certification in order to work; bartenders who allow patrons to drive home would face having their license or certification pulled, thereby giving the individual employee incentive to follow the (hypothetical) law. In exchange, the bar would have reduced liability if they follow the law and the patron drove drunk anyway. I would also do this for private parties, but without the license.

Manda JO
07-26-2011, 08:01 AM
Sleep deprivation causes 100,000 traffic accidents a year, I think about 30,000 end in death. But that really gets no attention. Then again, avoiding sleep deprivation is not as easy as avoiding alcohol. People may have underlying medical problems, or jobs that require too little sleep.

This can't be right. According to the chart here, there are around 39K-44K traffic deaths a year. It's hard to believe that 75% of them are caused by sleep deprivation.

Duckster
07-26-2011, 12:00 PM
I'm okay with an exponential scale of punishment.

First DUI: Minor fine.

Second DUI: Week in jail, large fine.

Third DUI: Six months in jail.

Fourth DUI: death.

I have no sympathy for anyone who endangers, let along injures/kills innocent people because they are under the influence of any substance that impairs their ability to act/react in a responsible manner. That would include alcohol, drugs (legal, illegal, etc.).

Bryan, you are too polite.


First conviction with no injuries/deaths: Large fine, loss of driving privileges for six months.
Second conviction with no injuries/deaths: Larger fine, jail for six months, loss of driving privileges for two years.
Third conviction with no injuries/deaths: Even larger fine, jail for one year, permanent loss of driving privileges.
First conviction with injuries/deaths: Large fine, jail for 12 months, permanent loss of driving privileges.
Second conviction with injuries/deaths: Life in jail.

Omar Little
07-26-2011, 12:06 PM
That means you could have a glass of red wine at dinner and be above .05. For a female who doesn't weigh much, and doesn't drink much, this is entirely possible. Generally, a restaurant will pour much more than 5oz of wine for a glass, but the charts are basing consumption on 5oz. How many people have had a glass of wine at a restaurant and then driven home?

But doesn't the amount of BAC decrease if the 5 oz. drink is consumed with a meal? And if your meal takes about an hour to an hour and a half. Wouldn't the BAC also be lessened?

When I have dinner out and I am the one driving, I will normally have one drink ordered at the beginning of the meal. I'm pretty sure that I'd have a hard time blowing a .02 by the time I left.

Jake
07-26-2011, 01:33 PM
Back in the late '50's and earlier, if you were stopped and were obviously drinking the police would, a lot of the time, would just take away your keys. If this would leave you stranded, they would often give you a ride home!
I think that instead of DUI, it should be changed to driving while totally drunk.
What about driving while in chronic pain, or a family crisis? Isn't this driving while under influence?

SnakesCatLady
07-26-2011, 01:43 PM
Even with the huge increase in penalties I still read about people getting their 4th or 5th DUI while driving on a suspended license. Having a tiny amount of pot for personal use will put you in jail very quickly, but it seems you must actually kill someone to be jailed (for any length of time) for drunk driving around here.

Tastes of Chocolate
07-26-2011, 06:07 PM
I think a possible solution would be to require bars to call a cab or allow the patron to arrange his own transportation for every patron who has consumed alcohol, regardless of whether the patron appears intoxicated. I would make this a condition of the bar's liquor license; bars that don't do it would be subject to having their license pulled. I also think that bartenders should be licensed or go through some other certification in order to work; bartenders who allow patrons to drive home would face having their license or certification pulled, thereby giving the individual employee incentive to follow the (hypothetical) law. In exchange, the bar would have reduced liability if they follow the law and the patron drove drunk anyway. I would also do this for private parties, but without the license.

How would this work with someone what walked or took public transit to the bar or restaurant? Does the patron have to take a cab to their house, 2 blocks away, after having a beer? Does the bar have to hire people to follow all of their patrons, when they leave, to be sure they actually get on the bus? How about nights where I have a margarita and my SO doesn't drink?

How about groups that order beer by the pitcher or wine by the bottle? Does the restaurant have to have someone watching the tables all the time, to see who exactly drank wine?

Peremensoe
07-26-2011, 06:24 PM
All of these consequences, even if you did not hurt anyone or anything.

As has been said, you may be mixed up about which consequences really accrue to which offenses.

But that aside--if you don't hurt anyone or anything, then how did you come to police attention at all?

Algher
07-26-2011, 06:40 PM
As has been said, you may be mixed up about which consequences really accrue to which offenses.

But that aside--if you don't hurt anyone or anything, then how did you come to police attention at all?

Checkpoints
Late night driving or other profiling

dropzone
07-26-2011, 11:19 PM
As I was likely to ask ten years ago, when I was base and shallow, is shygirl09 hot? No, really, ten years later hot? Because if she burned that off with three kids and is the third act on Jerry Springer I'm finding it hard to sympathize with her.

;)

dropzone
07-26-2011, 11:23 PM
ETA: My car attracts cops like flies on shit. Rule One: Drive like your grandmother. My grandmother was born in 1883. Radar guns cannot register how slow I drive.

MsRobyn
07-27-2011, 06:45 AM
How would this work with someone what walked or took public transit to the bar or restaurant? Does the patron have to take a cab to their house, 2 blocks away, after having a beer? Does the bar have to hire people to follow all of their patrons, when they leave, to be sure they actually get on the bus? How about nights where I have a margarita and my SO doesn't drink?

How about groups that order beer by the pitcher or wine by the bottle? Does the restaurant have to have someone watching the tables all the time, to see who exactly drank wine?

I will concede that it's not a perfect plan. It can stand some ironing out. However, I believe that bars and bartenders have a responsibility not to allow their customers to leave without at least making sure that its customers have some means of getting home without driving. Unfortunately, where I live, there are a couple of bars that routinely allow obviously intoxicated customers to drive home. (One has since lost its liquor license for other reasons, and the other one is on the liquor control board's radar for the same reasons.) Besides, the police are the ultimate enforcers anyway, and if someone has been caught driving under the influence, it's now up to the bar to show that they made every attempt to arrange alternative transportation. If they did, they're off the hook, at least from a liability standpoint. If not, they will face sanctions. ETA: One possible compliance tool can be requiring customers to surrender their keys before they can be served; that way, the employee who has control over the keys can make the necessary arrangements. The guy can get his keys back in the morning.)

In terms of people who don't drink, the bar can have some (discreet) means of identifying those people; for example, they can use a bracelet or a UV handstamp or whatever to make sure that people identified as designated drivers aren't served alcohol. If the party stays long enough, the server will know anyway who isn't drinking, and as long as the person agrees to act as DD, it's not a big deal.

As I said, this isn't a perfect plan. But I still believe that bars and other establishments do bear some responsibility for the drunk driving problem, and they should have incentive to help stop it, and be sanctioned when they don't.

EvilTOJ
07-28-2011, 05:19 AM
As has been said, you may be mixed up about which consequences really accrue to which offenses.

But that aside--if you don't hurt anyone or anything, then how did you come to police attention at all?

I was stopped by a police car because he thought I was "avoiding him through a neighborhood." It was 4 AM, I was on my way to work and I was picking up my coworker because we carpooled. We were late, I was pissed about it.

Increasing penalties to crimes only works so far before it becomes meaningless. Running a stopsign is a $500 ticket, which is insane. People do it all the time, thinking they won't get caught, and most of the time they aren't. Bicyclists are notorious for doing it here, and although they're liable for the same fines they almost never get caught, even though they're endangering lives.

Chronic drunk drivers already think their lives have been ruined when they have several DUIs and a lost license, there's nothing to lose at this point. And of course they're depressed so they gotta drink to take the edge off of life.