Ban the instrumentality used during the commission of a crime and that will stop the crime, at least that’s the thought.
Sen. Patrick Anderson (R) of Oklahoma has introduced a new bill which would allow a court to ban people convicted of driving under the influence from purchasing alcohol for a probationary period of time. Those convicted of driving under the influence would be required to carry a license that indicates they are “alcohol restricted.”
Similarly, those who purchase alcohol for someone who is “alcohol restricted” is would be subject to felony charges. Individuals who “knowingly sell, deliver or furnish alcoholic beverages to a person who has been order to abstain” could face a fine of up to $1,000 or one year in prison.
Oh, where to begin listing the problems with this proposed law?
First, does a state with one of the highest incarceration rates really want to send someone to jail or prison for something as trivial as buying and selling alcohol? What’s more, Oklahoma is currently undergoing a budget deficit for local law enforcement agencies. I think most people would agree that maybe Oklahoma should allocate its resources to fighting bigger battles than this.
Whether you agree or not, alcohol addiction is a disease. Those suffering from alcohol addiction will find a way to obtain alcohol. Banning alcohol will not reduce drunk driving deaths. Remember, it’s not the alcohol that causes alcohol-related collisions. It’s the decision to drive while drunk.
However, the biggest concern this proposed law raises is enforcement. How in the world does Oklahoma intend on enforcing this law?
This law would force every party host to ask every guest if they have been convicted of drunk driving before offering them a beer or a glass of wine. It would force priests to ask every parishioner if they have been convicted of drunk driving before they offer communion. A wife could not purchase wine “for the family” at the grocery store if her husband is “alcohol restricted.”
Anderson’s bill comes months after Oklahoma passed another law aimed at curbing its relatively high drunk driving death rate. Oklahoma legislature recently passed a law making it easier for prosecutors to confiscate the vehicle of a person charged with driving under the influence once the case is in court.
According to the nonprofit investigative journalism group “Oklahoma Watch,” drunk driving deaths in the state increased 10 percent between 1994 and 1012. However, during the same period, the figure dropped 20 percent nationwide.
The Oklahoma State Senate will begin discussing Anderson’s proposed legislation in February. Let’s just hope they realize the ramifications of such an ill-advised law. If it doesn’t, however, maybe the Oklahoma State Senate should also consider banning the purchase of cell phones for anyone caught texting and driving.