Penalties for drunk and distracted driving

Drunk driving is treated as a very serious crime, and distracted driving is mostly ignored unless it leads to another violation. They are both extremely dangerous. How should they be treated in relation to each other?

One is easy to obtain an objective measurement for, while the other relies on a cop claiming that he saw you distracted and you saying “nuh-uh!” so while both are de facto problematic, there is a clear reason why we can and do punish DUI more consistently.

One is a momentary lapse. The other is a 20 mile trip of stupidity that hopefully ends with you finding your way home and not wrapped around a tree.

Experiments show that drunk driving and distracted driving represent a similar level of impairment, but the actual crash statistics don’t reflect that. That might be partly because it’s a lot easier to determine if a driver was drunk than if they were fiddling with their radio, but the major issue is that alcohol impairs your judgement as well as your motor skills. Even if a drunk driver and a distracted driver do about as well around a closed course if they put their mind to it, in the real world the drunk driver is way more likely to be taking other risks, like severely speeding.

Thread closed at the request of the OP.