Archive for May, 2008

New Statistics: 9% of You Drove “Drunk” Last Month

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

What do you do when literally millions of American citizens admit to violating a law on a regular basis — say, at least once a month?  How do you catch that many?  How do you build enough jails?  Or is it time to maybe take a second look at that law?   


 Study: 9% of Us Admit to Drunk Driving

U.S.A. Today  -  Despite nearly 30 years of media campaigns detailing the dangers of drunken driving, almost one in 11 people admit to driving when they thought they were legally intoxicated, according to a survey released today by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

 Of 2,509 adults surveyed, 9% said they had driven within the previous 30 days when they believed their blood-alcohol content was .08% or above, the legal threshold for drunken driving in all states and Washington, D.C. The AAA Foundation is a non-profit research and education group founded by AAA auto club in 1947.

The results resemble those of an unrelated, larger study released last week by the federal government. The Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration’s survey of 127,000 adults found that 15% of drivers 18 and older said they had driven under the influence of alcohol at least once in the past year.

"It’s frightening," says Aaron White, adjunct assistant professor of psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center who studies drunken driving among young people. "If you’ve got 10% of the people saying I drove when I was over the legal limit, you’ve probably got another chunk of people that would say I drank and drove but I wasn’t over the limit."

White and his colleagues just completed a study of 5,000 recent high school graduates; they found 10% of the grads had drunk and driven within two weeks of being questioned…


Think about that.  Millions of people in the U.S. are driving with .08% blood-alcohol on a fairly regular basis – and that’s just counting the ones who admit it.

Maybe it’s time to recognize certain realities.  Rather than dismantling the Constitution and destroying the lives of countless citizens who statistically pose little danger, perhaps we should take a closer look at how the law addresses the problem.  Such as recognizing that a .08% blood-alcohol  level is an arbitrary figure, failing to recognize individual tolerance to alcohol.  The original level, as recommended years ago by the American Medical Association, was .15%.  See my post, DUI, MADD and the New Prohibition.  

Such as focusing instead on the small percentage of drivers who pose the greatest risk of harming others. 

The simple fact is that a small percentage of drivers pose the largest risk – those who abuse alcohol.  As any experienced DUI attorney will tell you, the risk is not from the vast majority of drivers who are over an arbitrary .08% level; it is from the chronic alcoholic who has a .24% BAC.  See my previous post, Time for a Change

So what was MADD’s reaction to the newly-released statistics?  From the same U.S.A. Today article:

 

…The most effective way to combat that attitude is with mandatory ignition interlocks for anyone convicted of drunken driving, says Heidi Castle, vice president of communications for Mothers Against Drunk Driving. "People continue to drive drunk because they can, and ignition interlocks stop that," she says.
 

A typically naive and simplistic approach to a complex problem.  See my guest editorial in Business WeekMADD Announces End to Drunk Driving: A Reply

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DUI – While Walking a Bicycle

Friday, May 9th, 2008

I’ve posted in the past about the insanity of extending the reach of drunk driving laws in MADD’s attempted return to the glory days of Prohibition.  See, for example, Felony Bicycle DUI, DUI on a Scooter, DUI on a Foot-High Toy Bike, DUI in a Wheelchair? and DUI on a Horse?.

Where are we going with all of this?  Take a look at a fascinating semi-documentary on YouTube created by a gentleman who was arrested for drunk driving in Columbus, Ohio…for walking his bicycle.

That’s right.  Jeff Brown was walking his bicycle — across his own front yard — when he was stopped by a police officer.  The cop began to cite him for not having a headlight on the bike, then said, “”I smell the presence of alcohol on your breath”.  Jeff was stunned — and refused to take a breath test.  Result: convicted of drunk driving — with four days in jail, a 6-month driver’s license suspension and a criminal record.

So Jeff decided to appeal…and started looking into why the Ohio Legislature in 2004 had changed the drunk driving laws from driving motor vehicles to include operating such “vehicles” as golf carts, lawn mowers, farm tractors and bicycles – and from driving on public roads to include driving on your own private property.  He found the reasons for the new laws were based on supposed fatality figures from MADD and the federal government….figures which are, to say the least, deceptive.  Jeff’s film does an exceptional job of analyzing the fraudulent manipulation of these “statistics”. 

For further information concerning the continued use of fraudulent statistics to justify the unfair DUI laws, Draconian penalties and constitutional violations, see my earlier posts:  A Closer Look at DUI Fatality StatisticsAre DUI Roadblocks Effective? and Lies, Damned Lies and MADD Statistics.


(Thanks to David Baker)

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The Truth About Ignition Interlock Devices

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

For the past year now, MADD has trumpeted its latest solution to the drunk driving problem.  After 13 years of essentially unchanged DUI-related fatality statistics (they have actually increased), MADD is now promising in its recent solicitations for money (average $52 million a year) that their latest weapon will eliminate drunk driving once and for all.  And in recent press releases, MADD's national president is promising that it will “literally wipe out drunk driving in the United States”.

Pretty grandiose claims.  So what is this new miracle weapon?  The ignition interlock device, or "IID". 

Problem #1: They don't work.  See my guest editorial in Business Week, MADD Announces an End to Drunk Driving: A Reply. They are, however, very profitable (see my earlier post Ignition Interlock Devices: Dangerous but Profitable).  If you review MADD's Annual Report, you will find a list of their top contributors – those "Platinum Corporate Donors" who have paid MADD at least $100,000.  There are six:  Dial America Marketing, Nationwide Mutual Insurance, Nissan North America, Daimler Chrysler Corporation, Car Max Foundation and General Motors Corporation (makers of Saab).  Yes, three car manufacturers…and a telemarketer heavily used by MADD.

Problem #2: What about drivers who haven't been arrested before?  How do you “literally wipe out drunk driving" by installing IIDs only in cars operated by drivers who have already been convicted?  Most drivers arrested for DUI are first offenders.

MADD understands this, and is pushing further — to have all vehicles mandatorily equipped with IIDs.  (Now you understand why the car manufacturers are investing heavily in MADD.)


New Tech Push Against Drunk Driving

MADD seeks spread of ignition interlocks that

prevent driving with high blood alcohol levels

CBS News. You have a few drinks, climb behind the wheel of your car, turn the key and — nothing. The engine doesn’t turn over, the car doesn’t move.

If Mothers Against Drunk Driving has its way, a device that checks a driver’s alcohol levels will be mandatory in cars owned by anyone ever convicted of drunk driving, and, eventually, every automobile…(Emphasis added.)

There are nearly 1.5 million drunken driving arrests last year, but only 100,000 ignition interlocks are currently in use, so even tagging first offenders isn’t really enough, says MADD…

“There are going to be different types of technology, such as trans-dermal detection that will have sensors to detect the blood alcohol level of an individual before he starts the car, so it doesn’t allow the car to start,” said (MADD President Glynn) Birch.

Another system has a Breathalyzer tube that the driver must blow into before starting the car, The (New York) Times reports. A third detects that a car is weaving down the road, and possible driven by an impaired driver.

“Biometric detection or identification will work like a thumbprint to identify and also give us an idea of who the driver is,” Birch said.

Those systems might eventually test all drivers, whether or not they have ever been convicted of drunken driving…

And as I've mentioned in past posts, automakers Nissan (a MADD "Platinum Donor") and Saab (owned by "Platinum Donor" General Motors) are the two pioneers, having already produced working IID technology for their future cars…once MADD has succeeded in getting the needed legislation mandating an IID in your car.

To more clearly understand the nightmare of driving with an IID-controlled vehicle, see this Japanese TV news broadcast on YouTube (and imagine all that can go wrong).  Now also consider the $1500 or so added to the car's sticker price, along with the periodic required calibration, maintenance and repairs.

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Of Hypocrites and DUI

Saturday, May 3rd, 2008

Just the most recent example of the hypocrisy of MADD’s "War on Drunk Driving"….


Texas Lawmaker Who Created $3000 DUI Fine Gets a DUI

Austin, TX.  May 2 — A Texas state lawmaker instrumental in the passage of legislation increasing penalties on drunk drivers was himself arrested late Wednesday for driving while intoxicated (DUI). Texas State House Transportation Chairman Mike Krusee (R-Round Rock) now faces the special $3000 "driver responsibility fee" that he rushed into law in June 2003…


Nothing new here.  See my previous posts, The Hypocrisy of DUI Laws, The Hypocrisy Continues, Who Guards the Guardians? and Hypocrisy and the War on Drunk Driving.

(Thanks to Andre Campos.)

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