Drunk Driving
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Drinking and Driving is Legal

Drunk driving is a strange crime. Nobody sets out on a given day to operate a motor vehicle impaired as a goal in and of itself. It's usually the product of poor judgment brought about or exacerbated by intoxication. In this regard it lacks the usual "mens rea" or "evil mind" that is required before the state imposes a criminal sanction on someone.

That is to say that someone who sets out to do evil is responsible for the consequences of that evil. Generally we impose only civil liability on those who do evil without intent. Therefore, if one kills another in a car accident because the killer driver failed to drive as a “reasonable person” by failing to meet a duty of “due care” (also known as negligence) then we impose compensatory money liabilities on the theory that a negligent person does not deserve a strict retributive punishment but neither should a victim have to bear the costs of another’s negligence. If that person intentionally drives in a manner that he knows or should know can result in death or injury (recklessness) then some form of low level crime (involuntary manslaughter) may be implicated.

As crimes go drunk driving is an odd duck. Families and friends of deceased accident victims rage at perpetrators who rarely fit the role of a “murderer” because they simply bear no ill will or “malice” towards their victims. Their having voluntarily consumed intoxicating liquors prior to driving is the “act” which the law seeks to punish. But how many of you can say that you have never driven impaired? For my generation it is an absurd question.

All vehicular deaths are technically preventable. WE choose to use these sometimes fatal machines because life without motor transportation is, well, kind of Amish. We accept a certain amount of death for the sake of an efficient and rapid mode of travel. It is a well known fact that cars could be manufactured with safety features so sophisticated that virtually no death or injury would ever occur. But the cost of such vehicles would be prohibitive.

The true villains in the drunken driving scenario are the law makers and the liquor industry who continue to promote .10 and .08 blood alcohol limits as a condition of being a "drunk driver". There should be no acceptable level of blood alcohol to operate a motor vehicle. If you drink you should not drive. Period.

Why do our laws essentially promote drinking and driving by inviting anyone to drink before driving as long as they're mindful to keep their blood alcohol level under .10 or .08? The technical self-monitoring and vigilance required of someone attempting to drink within this lawful limit is nearly impossible. This difficulty of self-monitoring produces huge fiscal revenues for local governments, alcohol schools, and the liquor industry. Notwithstanding their public service ads to the contrary, the last thing these folks want is for you to stop drinking and driving.

Here in
Los Angeles we have an entire courthouse dedicated almost exclusively to processing the drunk driving cases. Whereas the criminal demographic is normally drawn from the poorest socio-economic classes, Drunk driving cuts across all classes and it is therefore a unique crime which fines and mines the deep pockets of the middle and upper classes.

Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) and other groups have now been co-opted by the unholy trinity of governments, treatment facilities and the liquor industry that sponsors them. By promoting the .10, .08 limit laws we ensure a steady flow of cash and of alcohol related deaths. We should all advocate for the abolition of these laws and the adoption of a zero tolerance model with funding for designated driver programs and other forms of "drunk" transport. We should stop sacrificing human beings to the bottom line greed of these institutions.


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