RE: Religion and Government

William Kitchen (
Wed, 16 Apr 1997 00:00:01 +0000

> From: "Laws, David" <>
> In the US 50% of all traffic deaths involves at least one driver having
> an 'illegal' BAC. This is appealed to in the courts and legislatures.
> This TOTALLY assumes you can't add and deduce you're as likely to be
> killed by a sober driver as one who has been drinking! ...

That's true, but unless half the drivers on the road at any given
time are legally drunk, the 50% statistic still shows that a drunk
driver is much more dangerous than a sober one. That is with all
else being equal, of course, but I'm not arguing that intoxication is
the ONLY thing that can cause hazardous driving. Granted, I don't
have a statistic for how many drivers are legally drunk at any given
moment. But 50%? I doubt that 50% of the population gets drunk
even once a week, let alone having 50% drunk at all times.

> (I'm sure there
> IS a percentage of traffic deaths due solely to drinking, but it is
> nowhere near 50%.) In other words, according to the statistics it's
> 'How you drive more than what you imbibe' because if you drive like an
> idiot sober you'll drive like an idiot after drinking. .....

Huh? Are you actually proposing that intoxication doesn't impair
mental function? Why the heck do people get drunk in the first

> However,
> EVERYONE who drinks and drives is considered a criminal, even though YOU
> might be safer on the road with a BAC of .1 over some fool who
> disreguards all common sense and drives aggressively (and WILL
> eventually kill someone) and has a BAC of .00.

IMHO, everyone who drinks and drives IS a criminal, whether they
actually cause an accident or not. The crime is in seriously and
unnecessarily endangering the lives of others. The only thing that
seperates the drunk driver who kills someone from the one who
doesn't is pure dumb luck.

I do agree that driving while intoxicated isn't any more criminal
than driving while stupid, but that comparison doesn't make drunk
driving any less of a problem. I suppose that ethically, driving
while stupid should be just as illegal and punishable as driving
drunk. But unfortunately, it comes down to the purely practical
problem that stupidity is a much more difficult thing to measure
objectively. Although it could be argued that blood alcohol level
while behind the wheel is in itself one fairly good objective
indicator of stupidity.

> drinking! How logical is that? It's the emotion of the 'evil
> drunk driver' that encourages such law. Remember, logic has no
> bearing. We have been appealed to emotionally that drinking causes
> death when the statistics themselves prove it's driving habits (US
> anyway).

Of course the problem is driving habits, but are driving habits not
affected by drunkennes?

Consider this:

1. Driving while intoxicated is significantly more dangerous than
not, and therefore can be considered negligent.

2. Drunk drivers endanger more lives than just their own. Therefore,
laws against drunk driving can't be written off as just protecting
people from themselves.

3. The purpose of law is not just to get revenge on those who do
harm. It is also to serve as a deterrent to prevent people from
doing harm in the first place. To that end, penalizing people for
negligent behaviour is quite reasonable, even if no harm has yet
occurred. Of course, this kind of deterrent will only work for
reasonably sensible people. Unreasonable senseless people will
commit the crime anyway, and will end up being penalized. Seems
like a pretty good arrangement to me.

The point of all that being that drunk driving laws are easily
defensible with no appeal to emotion. It seems to me that your
objection to those laws is itself an appeal to emotion rather than
reason. Painting a picture of the big bad government vs. the
innocent free citizen. Hardly a convincing picture when that citizen
is drunkenly cruising the streets putting everyone at risk.

One of the few truly rational arguments against drunk driving laws
is that just letting 'em drive drunk will allow natural selection to
do its work and prevent a few morons from breeding. I don't think
DWI laws really defeat that though. They just make it a bit more
selective in that it requires that one not only be stupid enough to
drink & drive, but that one also be stupid enough to do it even
though he/she can face legal penalties even if he/she is fortunate
enough to not be a member of that "someone else" group of people
that bad things always happen to.

> I guess US citizens will only understand this when it's illegal
> (AGAIN) to consume alcohol and 100% of all traffic deaths are due
> to sober drivers who drive like idiots, or we realise the reduction
> of traffic deaths is due more to the fact that automobiles
> themselves are safer and are the major cause of reduced deaths
> rather than a criminalization of drinking.

Hmm. The old "Where does it end?" or "If it goes this far why not
further?" deception. Given a bit of thought, the answer is pretty

Where does it end? It ends with tasks in which inebriation
causes a clear danger to others.

Why will it not go further? Because drunk driving laws aren't about
the "sinfulness" of alcoholic beverages. It's about negligent
behavior that threatens lives.

Connecting drunk driving laws with prohibition just doesn't work.

                                        William Kitchen

The future is ours to create.