Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Busted For Being Under the Legal Limit

A friend was caught driving under the legal limit of alcohol. But since there was some alcohol in his system, he's forced to pay $10,000 in penalties and legal fees and lose his license for three months (and go through hell to get it back).

That wasn't a typo. It's true: he was found driving under the legal limit! Here's what he told me:
If pulled over with any alcohol in your system, you are screwed in New York state. According to the judge, almost every patron at a bar or restaurant could be arrested under these laws...DMV has mandated courses I have to take to get my license back and I have to pay a penalty assessment fee of $250 a year for the next three years to DMV. There are fines and fees hidden everywhere with this. One drink could do all this to someone...
I see two factors at play here:

1. No politician ever got elected advocating on a platform of easing DWI penalties (this also explains why our jails are full of harmless, mellow pot smokers).

2. MADD sounds like a great organization. Who could possibly object to moms fighting drunk driving? Well, the problem is that's no longer what they are. The group has evolved into a neo-prohibitionist movement - against drinking rather than against drunk driving.

How did that happen? Consider the NRA, which, to justify its existence and maintain funding streams, must keep looking for fights to wage even though they've already won every issue of concern. That's why the NRA keeps getting kookier and more puzzlingly bombastic over time. To survive, they must aim for infinity. MADD is another big money operation with no choice but to endlessly pound away at an issue that's been well under control for years now.

Of course I'm not suggesting that every driver's sober. But the behavior's been as stigmatized and penalized as anyone might reasonably wish there's nothing left to do but penalize in ways no one would wish for.

1 comment:

Peter C said...

I don't think that's entirely true. I believe NY State has introduced penalties for as low as .05 BAC, which brings it more in line with international standards. There is no penalty for lower than that.

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