Monthly Archives: January 2010
Three days ago I posted an example of what appears to be a growing backlash against the practical and constitutional damages being wrought by MADD’s out-of-control "War on Drunk Driving". See A Breath of Fresh Air. Another example of this rational but politically incorrect view was recently presented by the President of the National Motorists Association, James J. Baxter:
Laws Will Create New Criminals and Won’t Deter Chronic Offenders
When I first heard the announcement that the state Legislature was going into special session to overhaul Wisconsin’s drunken driving laws, my first thought was "it’s about time." Maybe legislators will go all the way and reduce the drinking age so it reflects something closer to reality. Better yet, they will raise the legal blood-alcohol limit so the vast majority of the driving public that isn’t part of the drunken driving problem will be left alone and not subjected to life-ruining penalties and career-destroying sanctions.
But, alas, I was wrong.
Wisconsin’s drunken driving policies are taking on all the worst elements of the war on drugs:
The penalties and punishments are out of proportion to the supposed crime. Have two or three drinks and blow a 0.08 breath-alcohol concentration, without an accident and no realistic impairment, and you are looking down the barrel of a multi-thousand-dollar fine, fees, surcharges, possible job loss, revocation of professional licenses, scholarship cancellation and of course suspension of your driver’s license.
And, this doesn’t even scratch the surface!
How many times does it have to be proven that statistics surrounding drunken driving are more propaganda than fact? Drunken drivers are not responsible for 41% of Wisconsin’s fatal traffic accidents. The simple presence of alcohol in someone’s system in a population where 60% to 70% of the population consumes alcohol is not automatically the "cause" of a traffic accident. Yet that is what the public is led to believe.
A more realistic and valid estimation of accidents caused by drunken drivers would be 10% – not 41%. This isn’t acceptable, but it does put the issue in a different, more rational perspective.
Speaking of repetition: Despite their apparent admiration for the Berlin Wall and Soviet Union checkpoints, why do acolytes of Mothers Against Drunk Driving continue to promote roadblocks? Is this just an irrational desire for revenge against a free society in general? It’s been repeatedly proven that roadblocks do not catch or deter meaningful numbers of drunken drivers.
Why is the Legislature ignoring the results and the recommendations of the most extensive review of ignition interlock devices? It is clearly stated that mandating ignition interlock devices for first-time offenders, regardless of blood-alcohol level, result in increased numbers of accidents. I’m assuming that the intent of this legislation is to reduce traffic accidents, so why pass a provision known to increase accidents?
Recognizing that this legislation will create thousands of new "criminals," and thus will cost the public money, the preferred source of revenue will be people caught driving on suspended licenses – many of which are suspended because the driver couldn’t afford to pay the original fine and/or out-of-sight insurance premiums. This sounds a lot like beating blood out of stones.
And what evidence is there that society will benefit one whit from the creation of new crimes or the heaping on of more penalties? We’ll end up with thousands of new "criminals" and thousands more with lost jobs and diminished job opportunities.
The only apparent beneficiaries will be the companies that make ignition interlock devices. And the serious and habitual drunken drivers who dominate the headlines, how will this affect them? Not at all. They have long proven their resilience to the punitive approach. Many have nothing of consequence to lose.
Further, as is currently the case, enforcement, judicial and institutional resources will be too focused on these new DUI criminals, caught driving home from ball games, wedding receptions, Friday night fish fries or bowling alleys, to devote any serious attention to the perennially and seriously impaired drunken driver.
Amen again. For my own comments on this issue see Time for a Change.
In today’s Is-the-tide-turning department, this from the Ron Paul blog:
Cuccinelli and Drunk Driving Laws
Drunk driving laws don’t often come up as a campaign issue, but when they do my reaction isn’t always what the person who brings them up in a campaign usually intends. DUI law in our country is chock full of gross violations of Constitutional rights, so I find myself impulsively sympathetic to the candidate accused of being ”weak on drunk driving.”
This is because being “weak on drunk driving” inevitably refers to an apparent unwillingness to further demolish the rights of citizens who might be accused of drunk driving.
This is playing out in Virginia where Republican Attorney General candidate Ken Cuccinelli is being attacked by his Democratic opponent for “consistently voted against tougher penalties for drunk drivers.” I’m sure I disagree with Cuccinelli on some issues, but if he has consistently opposed new DUI laws then he’s to be applauded.
I could write an entire essay about how DUI laws violate the Constitution, but that essay has already been written by DUI lawyer Lawrence Taylor. In “The DUI Exception to the Constitution” Taylor explains how nearly every Constitutional protection designed to protect the rights of the accused, most notably the Fourth and Fifth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, has been utterly destroyed by the way our criminal justice system pursues the legitimate goal of prosecuting dangerous drunk driving.
In other words, if for no other reason than having “consistently voted against tougher penalties for drunk drivers” consider me pro-Cuccinelli.
In today’s DUI double standard department:
Early Release Sends Some DUI Offenders Back to Prison
Chicago, IL. Dec. 25 — Anti-drunken driving advocates reacted angrily earlier this week when the Chicago Sun-Times revealed that Gov. Quinn’s administration had released 18 felony drunken drivers from prison early to serve the rest of their prison time on home confinement.
On Thursday, those same anti-DUI advocates were cheering after the governor ordered all 18 back behind bars to serve the remainder of their prison time. Each will be paroled between mid-January and mid-October under the terms of their original sentences.
"That is a delightful Christmas story," said David Malham, a victim-services specialist with Mothers Against Drunk Driving in Chicago. "MADD is absolutely delighted that the governor reacted to this serious issue in such a way."
The Sun-Times revealed Tuesday that the 18 felony DUI drivers and 40 burglars were among 204 inmates released early from prison under a new program aiming to save taxpayers $5 million a year by putting certain "low-level, nonviolent offenders" on home detention. Eventually, 1,000 inmates are supposed to be released early.
MADD officials said repeat DUI offenders should have been considered violent. After reviewing the program, the state Corrections Department agreed.
The 18 DUI offenders were rounded up during the past two days. No more DUI drivers will be eligible for early release.
"A decision was made to eliminate any and all DUI offenders from the electronic-detention program," Corrections Department spokeswoman Januari Smith said.
Apparently, drug dealers were not "re-classified" by the politicians. But then "MADD" doesn’t stand for "Mothers Against Drug Dealers".
Chalk up a MADD endorsement and a few more votes for the Governor come re-election…