Friday, October 29, 2010

Impaired Logic

It makes so much sense to me. I hope those who are elected/re-elected help put something like this into effect. There are WAY more people than we think "driving impaired/distracted". Here is a link to the entire article. I HIGHLY suggest you read it.

http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/opinion/points/stories/DN-balko_1017edi.State.Edition1.c27225.html

“People sometimes focus on how many drinks they can have before they’ll go to jail,” Acevedo told The Austin-American Statesman. “It varies…. A person may be intoxicated at 0.05, and you don’t want them out driving.” What he wants is to be able to arrest people with blood-alcohol levels as low as 0.05 percent, and he may have support.

Houston Democrat John Whitmire, chair of the Senate’s Criminal Justice Committee, says Acevedo’s plan “might be one way to go.” Bill Lewis, head of the Texas chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving says, “I don’t see how it would hurt.”

They are right, although probably not in the way they intended. People do react to alcohol differently. For many people, one drink may well be too many, while experienced drinkers can function relatively normally at or above the legal threshold. Impairment may also depend on such variables as the medications a person is taking or how much sleep he got the night before.

What their objection to the legal definition of intoxication highlights is the absurdity of drawing an arbitrary, Breathalyzer-based line between sobriety and criminal intoxication. The right solution is not a new artificial line. Instead, we should get rid of it entirely by repealing drunken-driving laws.

Consider the 2000 federal law that pressured states to lower blood-alcohol standards to 0.08 from 0.10. At the time, the average level in alcohol-related fatal accidents was 0.17 percent, and two-thirds of such accidents involved drivers at 0.14 or higher. In fact, drivers between 0.01 and 0.03 were involved in more fatal accidents than drivers between 0.08 and 0.10. Once the 0.08 standard took effect nationwide, a curious thing happened: Alcohol-related traffic fatalities increased, following a 20-year decline. Critics of the 0.08 standard predicted this would happen. The problem is that most motorists between 0.08 and 0.10 don’t drive erratically enough to be noticed by police. So police began setting up roadblocks to catch them. But every cop manning a roadblock was a cop not out on the highways looking for more seriously impaired drivers. By 2004, alcohol related fatalities went down again, but only because the decrease in fatalities in states that don’t use roadblocks compensated for a slight but continuing increase in the states that do.

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