Most people will immediately think that any argument against the criminalization of an action or substance must come from self interest and that alone. The argument I want to make here does not come from self interest (i.e. me wanting to be able to drive drunk), but rather from an interest in liberty and effective governance.
But i’ll say it: I’ve driven drunk before.
Extremely drunk. Shouldn’t be walking, riding a bike or operating a pez dispenser drunk– yet I was still driving. I made it home ok. I didn’t crash into a bus full of schoolchildren or even damage any property.
I feel your judgement and I also feel sorry for doing it. I don’t do it anymore since I feel like i’ve gotten away with it too often, but if I’ve had a few beers I don’t worry that i’ll kill a school bus full of kids.
I’ve never gotten a DUI.
Again, before you assume i’m arguing against drunk driving laws and enforcement out of self-interest I want to state that my twin brother was killed by a drunk driver in 2008. Ok that isn’t true, but suddenly you were about to listen to me. I hate topics like this.
I understand how much of a villain having driven drunk makes me, but I also know that 90% of the people I know have done it too. This alone doesn’t make it right, certainly, but what it does suggest is that while it is something people try to avoid for legal reasons, they don’t tend to avoid it for moral or ethical reasons. That is to say, your judgement and emotional feelings about it aren’t real. They’ve been manufactured and instilled upon you by commercials, scare stories and that demolished car the police department brought to your school. Though it says something that while people’s beliefs and ideas about a thing are a certain way, and their actions another very different way. It says, simply:
People are smart enough to know that like smoking pot, driving drunk is not the danger it is made out to be.
An example of this is that we’ve all known someone who said they don’t know how they drove home the previous night on account of being so shitfaced. When you hear this fake scold them and then say “Well at least you made it home ok”.
We don’t ever say “Well at least you didn’t kill a mini-van full of children you fucking monster”, and I think the reason we don’t say that is because that scenario is pretty rare.
In 2008, in a country of 300 million (say, 150 million drinkers) 37,000 people died from drunk driving fatalities. 1.5 Million people were arrested. In 2008 16,500 people were murdered in the US and 3,000 were arrested. Are you telling me it’s easier to catch drunk drivers than murderers? Are you telling me it’s more important to catch drunk drivers than murderers? We know for a fact that 16,500 people were murdered. We don’t know how many people drove drunk, except for the 1.5 million who were arrested for it and had their lives ruined and paid much to the state as penance.
The idea that the police stopped more drunk driving deaths from happening is open to interpretation, however 90% of the people I know have or do drive drunk and probably .5% have gotten DUIs (admittedly, this number could be wrong since many people don’t admit to getting a DUI to friends, however I think it hovers somewhere in the .5-1% range).
Again, I prefer that drunk drivers do not drive near me, however i’ve driven within the proximity of drunk drivers before (while also drunk sometimes– how meta!) and they didn’t just veer right towards me and crash into me but instead actually seemed to be trying to stay on the road and keep it cool. In response to their presence, I noted it, and moved ahead or away from them.
In law they say “Bad cases make bad law“.
Say a lunatic assaulted a child in the supermarket with a popsicle. There will be outcry.
How did he get the popsicle? Why are crazy people allowed to go into public stores? Popsicles have blunt edges that are potentially dangerous: why aren’t they made more safe or kept in a restricted area?
Any of these outcries calls for a solution; all of the possible solutions are ridiculous and cause more harm to non-violent shoppers than create a solution to the violent lunatics who, short of a popsicle, would’ve used anything else to assault the child, most likely.
Certainly we’ve all been so drunk that even we knew it wasn’t an okay idea to drive. When this happens most sensible people decide to stay put or find a less drunk driver to do the driving. Moving along.
If the State arrests 1.5M citizens per year (or 1/2 of 1% of the population) for drunk driving why doesn’t it assume that this is a social issue, much like the war on drugs concept, that cannot be combated but must instead be turned into a positive? If the Government considered the 37,000 lives ended and 1.53M lives seriously disrupted (try to stop thinking of this act in terms of villainy), they might think that instead of punishing these people they need to serve them, if only to save these 37,000 lives.
So how do they do it?
How They Could Do It
As usual, there is a private way to solve this problem. Take whatever the police, jail and judicial budget is for drunk driving and create a fund that subsidizes taxi cabs with a credit (marketing people: think of a cool name for these cabs now) for driving drunk people home. There are amazing softwares out there that could coordinate these trips to even pack 3 riders in each cab.
Say the target is that any cab giving a drunk person a ride home should not exceed $5 out of pocket. The state matches this $5 averaging about a $10 cab fare. I think this is average. Alcohol taxes could also be reallocated from bullshit programs that don’t work to this cab program. Bars would certainly welcome this tax as it would increase volume.
The sheer volume of demand would be a boon for car-makers, the unemployed, taxi companies and bars. If everyone knew all it would cost to get drunk and get a safe ride home was $10 per night I think most would view anyone not using this service as an idiot or a cheapskate or both. A cottage industry would emerge, offering lower prices to the consumer. The drunker the better! taxi company signs would read.
We could begin to change a a government stance that punishes people for doing a perfectly legal thing too much in concert with another perfectly legal thing, to a stance of:
Hey, people drink. People also need transportation. Let’s react intelligently and humanely to this situation.
After all we’ve had a president with a DUI. 1 out of 44 Presidents with a DUI, our best and brightest, tells me that this drunk driving is an epidemic.
And why not?
Why They Wont Do It
And to prop up a judicial system that judges people based on morality.
A Legal Philospher once said (roughly):
The best system is that which everyone would agree to the rules if they didn’t know how much power they would have.
Do you want to keep the streets safe from drunken maniacs? Sure. Do you want to be harassed anytime after 10pm, especially on your free weekends, for possibly having a few legal drinks? Absolutely not.
We now see the blue laws of the south (liquor stores closed on Sundays, etc) as bullshit residue from a bygone time where enforcing morality was the duty of the state. We laugh at these laws, and at their origins. We are so much smarter now.
Isn’t it that the Blue Laws that the government can force the public into obeying through fear or peer pressure are still ok, as long as everyone agrees to it? But why do you agree to it? Out of compliance? Doubtful. Out of moral code? Also unlikely. Because of personal experience? Very unlikely. Out of peer pressure and an almost perfect environment of non-discussion? Circle gets the square!
DUIs simply bring in too much money for them to possibly want to find a humane solution to this problem. Why help the citizenry when you can rub something in their face and charge them an exorbitant amount of money for the privilege?
If the government accepts that driving drunk is a problem, which they do, why do they only have one solution, and why is that solution so punitive?
Why are people being punished as if they’ve done something terrible when in fact they’ve only done something that could potentially turn out terrible?
In most US law, intent is the key. For example, if you’re driving safely and accidentally crash into a school bus and kill all occupants you haven’t done anything wrong because your intentions were not malicious— it was an accident. Taken a step further, how is drunk driving any different? Driving at 2am is known to be somewhat dangerous (however probably far less dangerous than driving during rush hour), and I don’t think drunk drivers intend to do anything wrong any more than people who buy knives intend to stab people. So why the stigma?
Similar to the war on drugs concept, drinking and driving has been made into a far worse thing than it is.
Here is the issue of most drug users (i’m not a drug user):
- I want to have more fun, relaxation or excitement than is possible in my current situation.
- I have a chemical imbalance and use illegal drugs to regulate it.
- I have been drinking, and would like to go home or to some other place that isn’t this place i’ve been drinking at
- I want to be reckless and put others in danger (just kidding)
Although I am a Libertarian, and many Libertarians may agree with my views, please do not say that Libertarians think drunk driving should be legal as most probably do not and neither do I, instead I just believe that the punishment for a crime should not be harsher than the potential damage said crime can incur, and if government is trying to combat a problem they should choose more tools than just those that are punitive. Thank you please.