Should drunk driving laws really be abolished? Yes, they should! Why? Because our roadways will become safer if we did.
Are you NUTS?!?
That’s a fair question. But no, I’m not nuts. And I am definitely not advocating that people drink and drive. Driving drunk is one of the most selfish and dangerous things anyone can do, which is seen in my drunk driving facts page. But do these drunk driving laws really make our roadways safer? Nope!
Don’t drunk driving laws save lives?
Not exactly. In 2000, the United States passed a federal law reducing the legal Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) limit from .10% to .08% blood alcohol. What were the results? There was an immediate increase in the number of alcohol related traffic fatalities. The increase came after 20 consecutive years of declines. Why in the world would this happen?
Law enforcement officers became distracted
Once the new laws took place in 2000, police officers had to employ new techniques to catch those driving while over the legal limit. Even though .08% is legally drunk, most drivers (not all) drive within legal boundaries and show no noticeable signs of intoxication. In other words, officers have a hard time catching those with low blood alcohol levels because on the surface, they appear to be driving normally.
Drunk driving checkpoints became more common
To combat this issue, DUI road blocks and check points became more common. Police officers were busy stationed at these road blocks arresting drivers who were over the legal limit under the new standards, but weren’t necessarily driving erratically. This, in turn, left fewer officers on patrol to stop drivers who were actually reckless due to their intoxication. It is widely accepted in the law enforcement community that this cause the increase in fatal alcohol related traffic crashes which is why DUI checkpoints have become less common over the years.
Blanket BAC limits don’t work
We’ve put a set number on when somebody is intoxicated or not. In the United States, that number is .08% Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). Problem is, these blanket alcohol limits simply don’t work.
Alcohol effects everyone differently
While some people are impaired way before this limit, others aren’t even close to being drunk at this limit. If my mother has one beer, she shouldn’t drive. But if my 300lb. nearly alcoholic friend has 5 beers, he might as well be sober.
Other factors such as fatigue and medication can also play a huge role in the level of intoxication for each individual person. This has led to ineffective enforcement of drunk driving laws. If somebody is driving recklessly, getting a DUI conviction is difficult if they are below the .08 limit. However, if somebody was not driving recklessly and was simply stopped at a DUI checkpoint, they can still be easily convicted of DUI as long as they BAC is over .08.
The solution to drunk driving
We need to revamp all of our drunk driving laws. More specifically, drunk driving laws should be abolished. Some groups are looking to reduce the BAC limit to .05%. If we do that, me might as well have a zero tolerance law like 3rd world countries have! These drunk driving laws should be replaced with more sensible reckless driving laws.
You don’t need alcohol to be reckless
Instead of arresting people for meeting predetermined and blanketed blood alcohol limits, we should arrest people for driving recklessly. That would include people driving drunk, drugged, fatigued, distracted, etc. Instead of setting up ridiculous, unhelpful, and arguably unconstitutional sobriety check points, put more officers on the streets during peak DUI times. The best way to stop those who are truly driving intoxicated is to be on patrol stopping those who’s driving is adversely effected. This would catch those who are truly guilty of endangering lives while permitting freedoms from unconstitutional road blocks and arbitrary BAC levels. It would also allow officers to arrest people for reckless driving, no matter what their BAC is (even a .000 BAC).
Should BAC levels still be collected?
Of course we should still use BAC levels as a form of evidence against those who drive reckless. If somebody is unable to safely drive their vehicle and they also have a high BAC level, it should certainly be taken into consideration during court hearings, trials, and sentencing.
What would police officers say about this?
Well, I found at least one that agrees with me. Austin, TX Police Chief Art Acevedo has said he can’t arrest somebody for driving while intoxicated if the offender has a BAC under .08% without additional evidence of impairment. So even if somebody is intoxicated with a .05 BAC, a DWI conviction will be extremely difficult to achieve. His solution? Abolish drunk driving laws and replace them with more strict reckless driving laws.
Most people don’t realize that distracted driving behaviors such as talking on a cell phone while driving is more dangerous than having a .08% BAC. So is driving while being fatigued and/or sleep deprived. In a society which has demonized driving after just one drink, we have forgotten what makes drinking and driving dangerous. It is the intoxication that alcohol causes, not the drink itself.
Making our roadways safer without drunk driving laws
Go ahead and have that glass of wine with dinner. It’s ok. But in a world without drunk driving laws and with more reckless driving standards, it might be the cell phone or your fatigue which gets you arrested instead of that wine.