MADD Gets Madder

Thursday, May 13, 2010

By Eric Peters on 5.12.10 @ 6:07AM

I don't support drunk driving -- just to get that out of the way.

But the idea that you're "drunk" at the current .08 BAC threshold is a bit much.

Push them a bit and proponents will say you're impaired at .08 in terms of a medically observable decline in reaction times -- and that's true, as far as it goes. But this slight reduction in reaction times has not been shown to correlate with a higher accident rate.

Proponents merely assert that it does, with no facts (such as a greater number of car wrecks) to back it up.

On the other hand, we know that a .10 BAC, which used to be the legal threshold defining drunk driving in most states, does correlate with a higher accident rate. There is actual evidence (more car crashes) to support this. Therefore, it seems reasonable to target people with BAC levels at .10 or higher because they pose an objective, real threat to other motorists (and pedestrians).

That's what the system used to do. The BAC threshold defining "drunk driving" used to be .10 -- because that was the level at which is was known drivers tended to have more accidents.

Not anymore. The lawful maximum BAC nationwide is now .08 and threatens to get knocked down even lower. In many states, you can be arrested for DUI with a BAC level of .06. "Zero tolerance" -- that is, no alcohol whatsoever, is openly discussed.

Which is just silly. Do we really believe people ought to be arrested because they got behind the wheel of a car after having had a sip of wine?

So, how did we get from reasonable DWI laws to here -- objectively unreasonable DWI laws that target social drinkers with even very moderate amounts of alcohol in their systems with a vengefulness that borders on the pathological?

All it took was one "mom."

Read more: Here


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