Draconian DUI laws do not really help

In this Pit thread, several of the posters seemed (to me) to have no objection to draconian DUI laws. Some posters seemed to actually support such laws.

I think that DUI laws have been ridiculously harsh for years, and they’re getting worse. The laws are based on sloppy science, manipulated statistics, and hysteria, rather than on actual driver behavior or ability.

Standard disclaimer: Don’t whack me with a jerking knee. Yes, I agree that seriously impaired drivers should not be driving and should be punished. However, I think that “seriously impaired” should be determined by driver behavior and ability, not blood-alcohol content (BAC) or breathalyzer results.

There is a good body of evidence indicating that overly harsh DUI laws don’t really do any good. And they may actually do harm by unnecessarily punishing otherwise law-abiding citizens.

See these sites for references:
[ul][li]An article from the Capital Research Center[/li][li]An article from Consumer Alert, a consumer-protection organization[/li][li]DUI Gulag, a hyperbolic but useful site (Warning: Annoying site design!)[/li][li]Another article about how BACs are not the best way to determine ability[/li][li]An article from the National Motorists Association recommendation more rational laws (See the NMA site for more info.)[/li][/ul]

Do you think that harsh DUI laws really help? If so, how and why?

There’s your topic.


I say anyone who drives while legally drunk should have their license suspended for 10 years. If they hit anyone, the victim (or their family if necesary) should get the car. If there was no victim, then the car should be seized by the state and auctioned off to pay for the expenses this crime generated, and hopefully a profit for the gov’t to spend on the stuff that taxes go to.

You say that it should be based on ability, not on BAC, but if you’re legally drunk, but not impaired, then you probably won’t get caught. The people who get arrested for DUI are the people who hit others or are swerving around the road. Having a BAC makes it clear cut. Otherwise it would be too vague and too many people would get away with DWI.

My (albeit uneducated about the point) opinion is that rather than enforcing crazy-strict laws, the government should spend more money educating people on responsible comsumption of alcohol.

I poked a bit on one of the links, something about how MADD’s political agenda forced misallocation of resources and more deaths, etc.

Bottom line for me:

Driving is privilege, not a right.
Driving is an inherently dangerous activitiy…tons of metal traveling at high speeds…the potential for death and injury is obvious.
ALL behaviors and activities which increase the likelihood of these tons of metal smashing into each other should be dealt with harshly.
This includes: speeding, reckless driving, and driving while impaired.

So, in conclusion, yes, DUI laws are a good thing. I don’t see any good reason for people to consume alcohol and get behind the wheel of a car, and I do not support any law changes which would make such behavior easier to do with impunity.

Pretty simple, really.

Are you serious? That is the most asinine comment I’ve heard in some time.

Who fed you that crappola anyway, MADD?

Ever hear of a DUI roadblock? Ever heard of a cop sitting outside of a bar tagging people as they leave at closing time? Ever heard of the cop who pulled someone over because of a broken tail light and then ticketed them for DUI?

Not alot of probable cause for DUI’s in the above examples, but it happens every day.


I’m not arguing against any DUI laws. I don’t think anyone in their right mind would do so.

I’m arguing that DUI laws should be reasonable.

Stoid, speeding and reckless driving are other issues entirely.

I made a thread about speeding if you want to discuss it.

As far as “reckless driving”, well, yes, it’s a bad thing. But unfortunately for those accused of it, the criteria for determining what constitutes “reckless” are vague and subjective. What’s reckless for you may not be reckless for me.

This thread is about overly harsh DUI laws.


Yes, it is. But, privileges usually aren’t taken away until you do something wrong. Most current DUI laws allow for your privileges to be revoked whether are not you’ve done something wrong. (Other than breaking the DUI law, of course.)


No more or less dangerous than a myriad other things we do. The requisites to perform any dangerous activity safely are training and experience.

Again, I agree with CnoteChris:

DUI laws, like all laws, should be reasonable.


So, you seem to be suggesting that until some one causes an accident, causing harm to others perhaps killing them, certainly causing property damage, we should ignore their driving under the influence 'cause “they haven’t done anything wrong except breaking the DUI law”?


“I’m arguing that DUI laws should be reasonable.”

Perhaps with some sort of punishment that’s vaguely proportional to the amount of danger you are placing others in, and with equally harsh penalties for people who place the public at the same amount of risk regardless of whether their method is driving while tired, under the influence of antihistamines, using a cell phone or plain old drinking ?

That sounds like much less fun than demonizing members of a group of which no good citizen is a member. People could actually get busted for all sorts of unsafe practices that they are used to getting away with. Are safer roads really worth the cost of requiring increased awareness from the average driver ?

Laurange, you know I think you rule, but I’m going to have to call you out on the statement:

…the government should spend more money educating people on responsible comsumption of alcohol. **

The government should spend the money on the roads. (here in Quebec, anyway). I get really freaked when I think of the idea that people need government funding to get educated regarding the responsible consumption of alcohol especially in relation to driving. Anybody that stupid should not have a drivers license. Indeed they should probably not even be drinking.

As for these so-called ‘draconian’ DUI laws. I’m splitting a gut here. The law should be NO FUCKING ALCOHOL WHEN YOU ARE DRIVING YOU DOLT. As has been mentioned before, a car is a big chunk of travelling metal. You don’t need a physics course to come to the conclusion that the person steering the vehicle should have ALL their wits (such as they are) about them. I don’t see that there’s a lot of grey area here to play with.

I don’t think you could make DUI laws tough enough, really. This from a guy who supports pedophilia (in theory), drug use, etc?


Do it on your time, in your house. I didn’t choose for you to get smashed and operate a motor vehicle. There is little question that alcohol affects reaction time, sensability (which might be lacking already ;)), etc, and as such you are in no position to operate a motor vehicle.

I think the monetary fines might be excessive, however. Suspending liscence, house arrest, etc. But huge monetary fines bother me.

Whatever it takes, though. Life is dangerous enough.

wring said:

No, I’m not suggesting that we should ignore driving under the influence until that person causes an accident. Nowhere did I say “Hey, drunk driving is okay until you crush somebody’s leg or run over their puppy”. I didn’t even say anything remotely resembling that.

In the OP, I said “Yes, I agree that seriously impaired drivers should not be driving and should be punished.”

Impairment can be determined by a driver’s behavior. If a driver is exhibiting impaired behavior, that driver can be stopped and evaluated. But basing a judgement about impairment solely on BAC or breathalyzer results is ridiculous. Those results do not accurately reflect a driver’s level of impairment.

As an ex-EMT i have seen the result of DUI up close and personal, no MADD speech will ever touch what its like to still hear the screams over the k-12 saws and portable hydraulic pumps driving extrication gear.

[sarcasm]Why because Fred had a bad day at work and decided to have a few drinks before he went home.[/sarcasm]

One of the biggest problems I see is that the punishments are primarily financial, If you can afford a few fines, higher insurance, and an OK attorney your ok. John Q citizen who lives check to check is crippled for his first “indiscretion”. In this aspect I agree with you on draconian laws.

you want to make some of these people stop, make it mandatory jail time (say 72 hrs) without bail. Most employers would probably forgive this once. Then no matter who you are you do the time. Or as many agencies here do…publish DUI arrests in the local paper. A couple times a year they get like half a page near the front of the paper. Libel? Not if its true…

Car accidents kill 40,000 people a year in this country and maim hundreds of thousands of others. Alcohol is implicated in a healthy fraction of those. Driving is not only a privilege; it is about the most awesome responsibility we allow people to have with so little regulation (save, maybe, having children).

For God’s sake, I don’t understand why people start whining about DWI / DUI laws. They are fucking whimpy enough as is. Why eviscerate them even more? What really pisses me off is that the same people who do this are often lock-em-up-and-throw-away-the-key law-and-order types on other crime issues! It really smells to me like a double standard. I.e., this is one crime that some “nice law abiding” middle class folks can imagine getting caught doing , so all of a sudden we shouldn’t have harsh penalties for it??? FTS!!!

There’s a lot here I’m not sure I’m quite up on.

Do most, some, or hardly any of the drunk drivers on the road, are they coming from a bar, going home? Are most, some or few of the drunken drivers alcoholics? 'Cause all the punitive measures on Gods green ain’t gonna stop a genuine alcoholic.

And how drunk is drunk, anyway? Here in the People’s Republic of Minnesota, its 1.0 and heading down. How drunk is that? Fuzzy, chucklesome, dirty story drunk? Or stumbling, "where’s my keys…"drunk.

Theres wide variety in reaction, too. I’ve known guys who pop a couple of double shots and break out a slide rule, on the other hand, there’s “Two Brew” Peggy Sue who would have two beers and…well, never mind.

So theres more to it that needs to be examined, in my estimation. Until such time as I am dissuaded, however, I will support heavy DUI penalties.

Sure, I’ve had a drink or ten too many, on more than one occasion. But I don’t have a car. And the thought of some yuppie’s SUV seized and forfeited cause of one Margarita too many at Applebee’s…(snigger! chortle!)

“But officer, I had to drive, how else would I have gotten home?”


I used to be scared to death to drive drunk, because of the legal consequences. Then I started to think that it was ok for me to drive drunk, because I “knew how” to drive drunk because I practiced a lot. It was just the amatuers who caused problems. I must have driven drunk a thousand times before I got caught, and I thank God every single day that I didn’t destroy any lives while I was out there doing it.

I said it in the Pit, and I will say it again- the drinker is the absolute worst judge of his/her own impairment. Period. So you or I can’t be trusted to make the judgement call once we start drinking.

You can disagree with a law for a lot of reasons. But to imply that “my .10 is somehow better than his .10” doesn’t seem like a very good argument.

For the record, I think the penalties for DUI can stay just the way they are. If you can’t cope with the penalty, then don’t do the crime.

I was a victim of the police harassment few years ago when I was arrested and put in jail for DUI. It happened on a rainy night. After a nice and peaceful dinner at home, my wife and I went to a neighborhood bar, about five minutes drive from our home. When we came out of the bar, I felt perfectly in control to drive my car home. And we did. Absolutely safe, with no incidents. I drove into my driveway, turned the engine off, came out and closed the door of the car. As I closed the door, a police car pulled into my driveway. He said that he had been following me, and that I was “weaving”. He then put me through the test, handcuffed me and took me in his police car to the station, leaving my wife behind in a state of shock. I was in my 40s then, never had a moving violation nor have ever been involved in any accident in 30 years of driving. I never had anything to do with the police in my life, let alone being handcuffed and finger printed in a police station.

Later we found out that the cop was hiding somewhere in the parking lot of the bar, waiting for his prey. He then followed us, hoping that I make a driving mistake. He had no chance to stop me before I pulled into my driveway. The charge of “weaving” is an excuse they use to put you through the DUI test. There is no way you can prove you were not “weaving”. These guys have daily quotas. They must issues a certain number of tickets and get DUI cases, no matter what. It is easy money and a profitable business for the courts and the district attorney’s office that encourages the police to catch victimless DUI drivers. It is harassment, extortion and destruction of innocent people’s life. Pure and Simple.

I had to spend that night in jail (first time in my life) in the company of a drug dealer and another guy who had jumped parole for a bank robbery. That was followed by going to the court, paying $2,000 in fines, having to go to DUI night classes for 3 months and having to attend AA gatherings in the company of skid row characters, pushing Jesus down my atheist throat. Then they revoked my driver’s license for 2 years, crippling my ability to go to my work which required 30 miles of daily commuting. I could no longer rent a car at my business trips, thus affecting my ability to do my business that required customer visits. (BTW. Who says driving is a privilege? If I could afford a limo with a 24-hour chauffeur, I’d never drive. These days, driving is a necessary evil to make a living, especially in the Greater Los Angeles area).

Yes. I agree with the OP. The DUI laws are ridiculously harsh, especially for victimless cases as described above. I believe there should be a full investigation into the police quota system and the criminal manner in which the police, the DMV and the courts gang up together to extort fines (profits?) from innocent people, destroying lives and careers in the process…

One Cell- did you drink alcohol in the bar? If so, then you have nothing to bitch about.

I am sure that you felt fine. I usually did.

Sorry about your experience, but it wasn’t the cop’s fault that you drove after drinking. I notice that you didn’t mention what your BAC was, so I assume it wasn’t a trace amount.

Actually One Cell, the organization pushing for more DUI arrests is MADD. The police force is simply responding to their increasing pressure.

Due in large part to the efforts of MADD, DRUNK (And do you think we can differentiate between being drunk and simply drinking here?) driving instances have been steadily going down. Because of this, police forces have had to resort to the tactics you describe to keep the numbers up and MADD off their back. The result is drivers like you being targeted- not drunk drivers who have absolutely no business being on the road.

So, EjsGirl, are you proposing a zero tolerance for drinking and driving?