DWI is now a disability?

I read a blurb in the paper last week about a high school student in the Chicago area who was arrested for DWI (his second offense). The school kicked him off the basketball team and he is suing the school under the Americans with Disabilities Act. His claim is that the school discriminated against him because of a disability.

Since when is DWI a disability?

Doesn’t the school have a right to decide who can play sports and who doesn’t? I know there are grade requirements. There can’t be stupidity requirements also?

Should the ADA be used to support causes like this?

Does this open the door for every drunk fool on the road to declare himself a victim of a disability and sue someone? Or only WASPY kids whose families can afford shrewd lawyers?

This sort of thing always gets my dander up!

DWI is not a disability, but in certain situations alcoholism is.

I find it a hard sell to convince me that being a habitual drunkard is a “disease.” I know, I know: alcoholism is a disease. That’s the party line these days, anyhow.

To me, cancer is a disease. Spina bifida is a disease. Muscular dystrophy is a disease. But being a lush? Not controlling one’s drinking habits seems to me to be more of a character flaw.

I mean, people can stop drinking if they are determined; AA can attest to that. People can’t just wish away cancer with a determined will.

Yes, sometimes medical treatment is necessary, just like with drug rehab. And addiction certainly has a real physiological connection. But I don’t think that negates the fact that one makes a conscious choice to pick up that bottle, drink it down, and then start driving around (or commiting rape, or getting belligerent and shooting someone).

And I don’t think those people should be given a means for collecting on a lawsuit.

And I submit that Chicago kid isn’t
“diseased” or “disabled” by anyone’s definition, just a dumbass drunk kid trying to pull one off.

What I want to know is why the brat wasn’t canned from the team after his first violation of the state’s law against those under 21 drinking alcohol.

You’re exactly wrong about AA people attesting to the statement “anyone can stop drinking if they are determined.”

Anyone who believes in the 12 steps of the AA program will tell you, any alcoholic who tries to stop drinking through will-power alone almost invariably fails. Were this not true, there would be no need for AA or for any of the other myriad therapies available.

Looking at alcoholism as a “character flaw” is one hallmark of those ignorant of the facts and the reality of this disease.

I thought they just took Alcoholism off that list? ALong with a few other things. Plus, anything that can be cured with drugs, or other ways, doesn’t count as a disability.
So, give an alkie ‘antabuse’ and hes cured.

Nickrz, reread my statement. I didn’t say that “anyone” can stop drinking by willpower alone, only that people can and do stop. This is a true statement.

The fact that AA provides support, encouragement, and such just supports my point that alcoholism is not a disease IMO.

People don’t go to meetings to cure cancer, and they don’t go to AA to get medical treatment, they go to try to get the strength to be able to make better choices in life.

Is a crack habit a disease? Is smoking a disease? I say no. These are habits, or in some cases, addictions. They may be real, physiological addictions, but not diseases. Of course, smoking can cause a disease, just like an alcoholic can get cirrhosis.

And yes, an addiction may respond to detox/medical/drug therapies, but that doesn’t automatically make it a disease.

And if being a chronic drunk isn’t a “character flaw” then what would you call it, a strong point? Oh, yeah, it’s a disease.

Pass out the disability checks.

Getting back to the original post, calm down. Almost all of these sensationalistic they’re suing over what?! cases get thrown out of court before they even begin. And even when they do begin, they’re thrown out (or settled) before they get fully tried.

They make headlines when the case is filed. They get almost no press when dismissed, giving the impression the ones who sued won – they didn’t win anything but the large lawyer fees the jerks deserved.

And yes, I’m sure anyone here can quote to me a frivolous case that was tried and was won by some jerk against all reason – but, they truly are a small minority.

Considering that the Supreme Court came out with a decision this Summer which severely limited the scope of the Americans with Disabilities Act, don’t count on this one being a winner.


Don’t we all wish! I wonder who this kid’s parents are, that not only allow him to get drunk at 17 (he has to be getting the alcohol from somebody), but hires an attorney on his behalf to fight the school.

This kid’s gonna have a long, hard road ahead of him.

Here ya go DIVEMASTER:


But, I don’t think you will be sold. I have a hard time buying it. If alcoholism is not a disease, then there is wicked strain of flawed character running through generations of my family.

Anyway, I don’t buy the lawsuit either, but as for your feelings towards alcoholics goes, try saying what recovering alcoholics say about those still under the gun: There but for the grace of God go I.

Emotionally I am with you. I still cuss my father out three times a day for being a pussy alcoholic/suicide. But what he did to our family wasn’t really the result of a character flaw.

Whether alcoholism is a disease/disability or not, it is no excuse for driving while drunk. So how ever sick this kid may be, he still violated the law unnecessarily (tautology?). One would hope the court will appreciate that, if nothing else.


I really feel for you. Seriously. I tend to get very emotional over what I perceive as gross injustices, as in the case with this kid.

Sometimes it seems to me that society’s sympathies are misplaced. I see lawsuits and disability advocates rallying behind an alcoholic (blame the beer companies, blame the bartender, blame a disease, but don’t put the responsibility on the drinker), and I ask myself who is rallying behind the people left in his wake? The ruined families, the beat-up wife, the son who doen’t have a father to look up to and respect, the kids mowed down on the road.

I apologize to anyone, including you, Pooch, I may have offended by my overly visceral reaction to this topic.

Some parents will do any damn thing to get Junior out of trouble. When I was in junior high, a kid in my class was expelled for selling marijuana. The kid’s parents sued the school, and won, because the school (private) had failed to follow its own policy regarding rule infractions (you get so many in-school suspensions, then so many out-of-school suspensions, etc., before they kicked you out).

This was in a more innocent time, so the school rules didn’t cover the commission of felonies on school property.

The Cat In The Hat


No harm done. Frivolous law suits and the great blame game really get under my skin.

While medical science is accepting alcoholism as a bonafide disease, there is room for debate.

No argument here–alcoholics are responsible for their actions.

As I said, I find alcoholism hard to swallow as a disease, but I do. Add depression to the list; we may see a lawsuit some day for a chronically depressed worker who was fired for taking a few days off because he was feeling low.

I live in Japan and somebody here said that the difference between Japan and the US is that if the Grand Canyon were in Japan they would put a fence around it.

People here think the US is a country of individualists that take responsibility for themselves. Our litigious society is something of a paradox in that context.

Somebody said the kid would have a hard road ahead of him…yeah maybe, probably Harvard law school or some road like that. They way things are going, the kid’s got the right stuff.

Anyway, I hate it when people throw in a personal tragedy to support their argument like I did. Hee-hee-hee, I was feeling devious.

Ok, Ok, Ok. Let us first take the basic question of the OP.

The suit in question, according to reports (you always have to read them carefully, since reporters are rarely lawyers, and even more rarely have read the actual complaint filed), attempts to prevent the removal of the teen in question by asserting that he suffers from alchoholism, and is therefore entitled to continue play on the team, presumably under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (as amended in 1992 to conform with the provisions of the ADA), which requires that recipients of federal funds not discriminate against disabled people. Public schools are often subject to Section 504.

Alchoholism can be a ‘disability’ under the ADA and, therefore, under Section 504. A ‘disability’ is “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.” The American Psychiatric Association continues to list alchoholism as a diagnosable condition in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (4th Rev.) Courts have consistently (so far as I know) found alchoholism to be a disability under the ADA. This was true prior to ADA under the Rehabilitation Act (see e.g. Rogers v. Lehman (1989) 869 F.2d 253).

Now the trouble with the suit, frankly, is in equating the removal from the team with discrimination over alchoholism. The school district will, undoubtedly, assert that the reason the player was removed was his illegal conduct (Driving While Intoxicated). To establish that the disability neutral policy of the district should be set aside because it happens to have a bad result for a teen with alchoholism isn’t in accord with prior decisions on neutral policies. Further, it is doubtful a court would equate alchoholics with DWI - an alchoholic is certainly able to avoid driving intoxicated.

As for the other part of the thread, regarding whether alchoholism is or is not a disease - please, if you are going to discuss this, at least make yourself familiar with the evidence on the subject. Ranting about how it isn’t a disease just cause people can ‘stop’ isn’t productive. :slight_smile:

Alchoholism is a disease. Drug addicion is a disease. Depression is a disease. These are all considered mental disorders. If you are constantly drunk on the job, they can fire you. They can not fire you just because you are seen attending AA meetings, nor can they fire you if you are hospitalized to help cure your depression. This kid is being deprived of his privelage because he broke the rules; he is not being unfairly picked out.

All states (Texas has finally gotten with the program) require that if you provide medical insurance, it must cover mental disorders and drug addiction. HIPAA requires that you can not have monitary limits on those coverages. Yes, these are real bonafide diseases.

If you have your legs amputated, it does not allow you to speed, drive recklessly, etc. Alcoholism, etc. are no excuses either.

“The large print givith, and the small print taketh away.”
Tom Waites, “Step Right Up”

By the way, I think this child’s parents should spank him rather than hire a lawyer.

Seriously, if they had learned to tell the kid “NO”, or had taught him that driving drunk was a bad thing, he probably would be playing football right now.

“The large print givith, and the small print taketh away.”
Tom Waites, “Step Right Up”