Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Drunken driving fixes abound

Drunken driving fixes abound

(My Clovis News Journal column for May 2, 2014)

I hate drunk driving- and the "checkpoints" and patrols excused as attempts to stop it.

The legalistic approaches inevitably violate the rights of all other drivers while trying to catch some of the guilty. The rights violations increase out of proportion to the "success" of combating "drunk driving".

A much better solution would be to prevent the drunk driving from happening in the first place, while leaving everyone else alone.

Don't think it's possible?

I believe that the stigma attached to driving drunk has done more to keep people from driving drunk than the draconian enforcement that is so popular with big-government advocates. With "laws" the guilty always believe "I won't get caught", but you can't as easily escape your own shame. Obviously, this doesn't work with everyone because some people don't listen to their conscience.

There will always be those who slip through the cracks and there will always be tragedies. There is no Utopia. However, there are ways to approach the problem, using reality and human nature as your guide, to reach a better place than anything possible along the current path.

Eventually self-driving cars will make "drunk driving" a moot point. You can't be driving drunk if you aren't driving- some enforcement blunders to the contrary. Until that happens, collision avoidance systems could become standard to reduce the risk for everyone, even beyond the drunk driving issue.

What else might help?

-End zoning "laws" which keep bars out of neighborhoods so drinkers won't "need" to drive.

-Allow home delivery of alcoholic beverages.

-Don't penalize people for realizing they are too drunk to drive and deciding to sleep it off in their car or walk home.

-Don't ration "taxi licenses", and let anyone with a car or rickshaw be hired to haul people around for money.

-Set up a charity that rewards known "drunks" for not driving when they have been drinking (the charity would decide what sort of proof they want).

-Remove the incentives for cops to arrest every drunk instead of simply driving them home (without their car, obviously).

I'm sure others can think of more ideas that reduce the impaired drivers' likelihood of driving, while not violating anyone's rights.

When everything fails and someone is harmed by a drunk driver, restitution (or self defense if harm is imminent) becomes appropriate. Since restitution is a punishment rather than a preventative measure, it is less helpful.

These suggestions won't be popular with those who simply hate alcohol and never want to see, or hear of, anyone drinking, but for those who actually want to make things better, they should make some sense and be a starting point for real solutions.

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