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"Those who give up
essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety,
deserve neither liberty nor safety."--- Benjamin Franklin
My Drunkards Keeper
Store owners in Sacramento County, California, will face criminal charges if they sell booze to known homeless alcoholics. Store owners will be given binders containing photos of habitual drinkers. If they are caught selling alcohol to someone pictured, they face a $1,000 fine or a year in jail.
Broward County, Florida, sheriff's deputies have been called "scoundrels" by representatives of the Police Benevolent Association. Were the officers caught beating a suspect? Racially profiling motorists? Sleeping on duty? No, they ticketed an officer from another department on suspicion of driving under the influence after they saw her weaving and running a red light. PBA officials said the Broward sheriff's officers violated the "professional courtesy" law enforcement officials are supposed to show one another. That officer later pleaded guilty to the lesser offense of reckless driving.
John Evans was charged
with drunk driving after police stopped him and a breath test showed he had a blood
alcohol level of 0.14, well above Wisconsin's legal limit and almost double the 0.8 that
will become the legal limit September 30. Evans was the state's Bureau of Transportation
safety director and a leading figure in the fight to have the limit reduced. He has since
been removed from his post.
Highway safety regulators in 1998 called on states to lower the allowable blood-alcohol level for drivers to 0.08 percent, or risk losing millions of dollars in federal highway grants.
Though no one defends drunken drivers or suggests abandoning the campaign against them, the states say federal officials have not shown that 0.08 percent laws save lives. Critics say the tougher laws weaken the emphasis on catching hard-core drunks who cause the most deadly crashes and saddle states with the costs of prosecuting tens of thousands of additional violators.
"I don't think there would be one person saved by a .08 law," said Tom Rukavina, a Minnesota legislator representing the state's Iron Range, a sparsely populated region west of Lake Superior. "All we would have is more arrests."
Rukavina estimates a 0.08 percent law would result in 6,000 additional criminal arrests costing the state about $60 million, outweighing the potential loss of federal highway money. Nevada legislators have voted down 0.08 percent laws repeatedly for similar reasons, said Bernie Anderson, chairman of the state Assembly Judiciary Committee.
The federal-state standoff reflects broader controversies about the nation's campaign against drunken driving.
Some safety experts express frustration that the campaign against drunken driving has become such a politically powerful force that safety issues involving roads, car standards and driver behavior are left in the shadows.
They say the dimensions of the drunken-driving problem also may be misrepresented by complex government statistics.
Federal officials reject the criticism, asserting that 0.08 percent laws save lives and that the statistics showing that 40 percent of highway deaths involve alcohol do not exaggerate the problem.
The Christmas-to-New-Year holiday period is the deadliest of the year for drunken driving, with an average of 1,000 alcohol-related deaths.
Nobody questions that the fight against drunken driving has resulted in tremendous progress during the past half-century, saving by some estimates 21,000 lives and radically changing the public mindset about alcohol.
But progress in reducing drunken-driving deaths has stalled in recent years. Between 1993 and 2001, alcohol-related driving deaths leveled out at about 17,000 a year despite many states adopting tougher laws and stepped-up enforcement.
And many state officials and some accident experts worry that other types of driver impairments may not be getting the same kind of attention.
"Theoretically, very small amounts of alcohol in your blood impairs you, but so do antihistamines and lack of sleep," said Brian O'Neill, president of the highly respected Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Advocates for safer cars and improved roads support the drunken-driving effort, but say federal officials lack the same commitment to preventing the nearly 24,700 highway deaths involving sober drivers last year. That death toll has leaped 39 percent in the past two decades.
"There are other elements to highway safety than stopping drunk drivers," said Bella Dinh-Zarr, director of traffic safety policy at the American Automobile Association. "We don't think (the campaign against drunk driving) is a silver bullet."---By Ralph Vartabedian of the Los Angeles Times (abridged) (Money talks, and by March, 2004, only 6 states haven't succumbed to Federal blackmail of supposedly free highway money.) (.08 BAC is now the latest definition of drunk in all 50 states as on July, 2004.)
Top Cop Won't Resign
Local law enforcement officials are not backing away from their support of Wisconsin Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager in light of her drunken driving arrest.
Throughout her career in politics, some of Lautenschlagers main support has come from law enforcement. She is a former district attorney and her husband is a retired police officer.---Fon-Du-Lac Reporter (Her blood-alcohol level was 0.12 percent.) She is the second Wisconsin attorney general to face a drunk driving charge. In 1981, Bronson La Follette had his license suspended for four months after failing a breath test.---Reason.com
|Researcher finds link between alcohol intake and wealth|
A university professor has found on average the more people drink, the more they earn.
Professor Chris Auld says his research confirms the so-called alcohol-income puzzle.
His research shows people found to drink more than average are also more likely to be successful and earn more.
The economics don at the University of Calgary in Canada has just been given more funding to research the alcohol link to earnings.
He says reasons behind the correlation could be stress of a high-paying job driving people to drink or that more sociable people are more likely to achieve career success.
The findings should not be construed as an excuse to drink your way up the ladder, adds Prof Auld.
"The puzzle is why are we finding this," he told the Calgary Sun.
He jokes his extra funding will allow him to "buy more rounds at the
TUCSON - A Tucson attorney claims a Pima County sheriff's deputy crossed the line
when he used an electronic stun gun to make a DUI suspect submit to having blood drawn for
Attorney Michael Bloom wants extreme DUI charges against 35-year-old Brian Sewell dropped in the May 2003 case.
The deputy allegedly used his 50,000-volt stun gun three times with five-second bursts on Sewell's neck.
Arizona law allows police to obtain a search warrant for drawing blood from DUI suspects when they refuse the procedure.
The sheriff's deputy says he asked Sewell after each burst if he would cooperate, and Sewell told him he'd have to use the Taser again.---AZCentral.com
Mobile users 'more hazardous
than drunk drivers'
Sunday, 3 August 2003
Research by the Royal
Melbourne Hospital suggests it is safer to drink-drive than drive while using a mobile
The study recorded nearly 2 per cent of 17,000 drivers in metropolitan Melbourne using a mobile phone while driving.
Most of the drivers were young and middle-aged men.
Associate professor David Taylor says a driver using a mobile phone is twice as likely to have a crash than a driver who is slightly above the blood alcohol concentration limit.
"Knowing that the increased risk with a mobile phone increases by about four, and the risk of a fatality is thought to increase even up to about nine, is quite concerning," he said.
"We're taking those figures, then we looked at the number of people who are actually putting not only themselves as drivers at risk but also other people on the roads at risk." From ABC News Online
(MADD is not concerned. They support cell phone use while driving.)
All of Our Police Are Busy
Right Now ... Right
at a time when a concerned citizen was looking for an immediate response that would have
averted another crime, Im assuming there were probably 15 to 20 officers tied up
around that booze bus, said New Zealand Member of Parliament Ron Mark.
Police in New Zealand were too busy to chase a stolen car, even after the five occupants robbed a service station. A private citizen followed the stolen car and attempted to gain police aid for 25 minutes, but no police were available to apprehend the criminals, Why were they too busy? They were running a DUI roadblock. In fact, the stolen car passed the police booze bus at the roadblock.
Right at a time when a concerned citizen was looking for an immediate response that would have averted another crime, Im assuming there were probably 15 to 20 officers tied up around that booze bus, said New Zealand Member of Parliament Ron Mark.ABI News, July 2003
Approximately seven percent of "at fault" traffic accidents involve
a citation being issued for a DUI/DWI violation. This percentage is a more realistic
indicator of "drunk driver caused" fatalities. It does not include pedestrians,
bicyclists, and passengers who had some evidence of alcohol in their systems as
"drunk drivers." It does not include suicide victims as "drunk
drivers." It does not consider drivers with inconsequential BACs to be drunk drivers.
And, it does not consider a drinking driver who dies in an accident caused by a sober
driver to be the victim of a drunk driver. This is why the more realistic estimate of
seven percent differs from the 40 percent figure promoted by the federal government . Stephen Beck,
. Stephen Beck,Big Brother's New Prohibition
Number of drunk drivers in Okinawa hits record high
Despite new draconian penalties, continuous police campaigns, and increased traffic stops, nothing seems to stop Okinawan drivers from getting behind the wheel after a glass or two.
According to police statistics on drunk drivers from January through end of May this year, the number of people held for driving while intoxicated increased a whopping 63 percent from the same period last year. Although police admit that a part of the statistics can be attributed to the fact that the definition of drunk driving changed from 0.25 mg alcohol in one liter of breath to 0.15 mg, the numbers are still bad enough to keep Okinawa as the worst offender in the nation. It's a dubious honor that the prefecture has had for the past 15 years in row.
Exasperated police officials vow to stamp out the habit, no matter what it takes. "Okinawan people seem to think that having one glass of beer or wine is nothing, and it is OK to drive. But the law says that drunk is drunk whether it is one or ten glasses, it does not matter. Even if our meter shows only a tiny trace of alcohol in a driver's breath, he or she will be arrested," a spokesman at the Okinawa Prefectural Police Headquarters said.
He said that the police intend to change Okinawa's status as the worst offender in
drunk driving and are planning even stricter enforcement. "I would like to say to
anyone who drives drunk: We are warning you! If you drive drunk, you'll lose everything
you've got. You'll lose your job, your dreams and your happiness. We will take everything
away from you. Remember this and think," the spokesman stated. From
(Nothing about saving lives, but MADD would be proud of their arrest record.)
INDIANAPOLIS v. EDMOND (99-1030) 183 F.3d 659: November 28, 2000
A Cumming man committed suicide in a Des Moines City Jail cell Thursday evening after being arrested for allegedly driving drunk, police officials said.
Officers found Aaron William Benton, 19, about 7 p.m. Thursday with his belt tied around his neck, strapped to the jail cell bars.
After finding no pulse, police tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate Benton, authorities said.
Police had been dispatched to the 600 block of Polk Boulevard at 4:30 p.m. Thursday on a report that Benton had struck a parked vehicle.
Officers detected an odor of alcohol on Benton's breath and arrested him on suspicion of operating a vehicle while intoxicated after test results indicated he had been drinking. From Des Moines Press
A new law in South
Carolina requires law enforcement officers to read suspects of impaired driving their
Miranda rights before administering field sobriety tests. The law is intended to prevent
cases from being thrown out of court because officers didn't make suspects aware of their
The head of MADD in South Carolina bitterly opposed the safeguard of rights provided by the law. The Greenville News, 8-15-03
About 50 minutes into the
traffic stop, as two troopers from the Media Barracks were placing Overton under arrest
for failing a field-sobriety test, he pulled a concealed handgun from his shirt, police
said. He pointed the gun at his head, then at the troopers, forcing one of them to shoot
Overton in the leg, police said. Police said Overton then made his way across two lanes
and over the median, where he shot himself. Philadelphia Daily News, July, 2003
("Being stopped by the police is distressing even when it should not be terrifying, and what begins mildly may by happenstance turn severe."---Supreme Court Justice Paul Stevens, 1990.)
Philadelphia Daily News, July, 2003
By John Doyle. John Doyle is executive director for the American Beverage Institute
July 29, 2003
It's early evening. You're driving home from a summer barbecue when flashing red and blue lights appear ahead in the distance. The sport-utility vehicle in front of you brakes, and you slow down and come to a complete stop at the end of a long line of cars. Up ahead, you see police officers milling about.
Could this be one of those random sobriety checkpoints Mothers Against Drunk Driving wants to fund to the tune of about $315 million? Promising to step up the war against drunk driving, MADD, the National Traffic Safety Administration and several legislators are calling for more random road checks as the quickest way to reduce alcohol-related traffic fatalities.
Yesterday, that sounded like a reasonable idea. But now you're nervous because you had two beers with your burger and potato salad. Of course, you know you're not a drunk driver. You're completely sober. You can touch your nose without poking out your eyes, with both hands. You can recite the alphabet articulately. But what will the Breathalyzer say?
You know you're far below the legal drinking threshold, which is 0.08 percent blood alcohol content in most states. But you're not sure exactly how many drinks it takes to reach those levels.
The details float through your mind. Scientists at Britain's Transport Research Laboratory recently ran a study for one of the United Kingdom's leading insurance companies. It showed that, on average, drivers talking on hand-held mobile phones had reaction times 30 percent slower than drivers with a 0.08 percent BAC.
Could you, being less impaired than a cell-phone user, really get a ticket for driving under the influence? Could you--the person who always stays within the speed limit and comes to a complete halt at every stop sign--be a drunk driver?
U.S. Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta said "if you drink and drive, you lose. Today we're putting drunk drivers on notice: If we catch you drinking and driving, we will arrest you and prosecute you." Isn't that a mixed message? If the law says I'm drunk at .08 percent BAC, will I really still be arrested if I'm well below that?
For example, according to Washington, D.C. law, it doesn't matter what your blood alcohol level is. Up until 1994, a BAC under 0.05 percent was "prima facie proof" that someone "was not under the influence." Since then, a BAC reading below 0.05 percent "may be considered ... in determining whether the defendant was under the influence. In 1997, Willis Van Devanter, a 66-year-old grandson of a former U.S. Supreme Court justice, who'd had a glass or two of wine with dinner, was stopped at a police checkpoint in Washington, D.C., and blew a 0.03 percent BAC on the breathalyzer. Although that's less than one-half the "legal" limit, he was arrested anyway.
Legally speaking, you're as guilty as someone who downed a bottle of gin. If you're over the limit--whatever that means--you could be automatically arrested and thrown in jail. You could be fined outrageously. Your license could be confiscated, your car towed, your name could land in the newspaper, and you could even lose your job as a result.
To punish a person with 0.08 percent BAC--or even less--as though he or she were completely drunk while ignoring even more impaired drivers doesn't make sense. It's unfair and seems downright unconstitutional. Doesn't the 8th Amendment protect you from "cruel and unusual" punishments?
Wouldn't it make a lot more sense to punish drivers based upon their level of impairment? Shouldn't the penalty fit the crime? That's how the law is supposed to work. If you're caught driving 60 m.p.h. in a 55 m.p.h. zone, you might be fined, but the penalty will be far less than if you'd been driving 120 m.p.h. Shouldn't drunk driving laws work the same way?
Suddenly you realize why these roadblocks exist in the first place. How else could police catch a driver who's not really drunk--who doesn't swerve or exhibit other common signs of drunk driving? Then it hits you. These roadblocks aren't designed to catch drunk drivers at all. They're designed to catch people like you. Former MADD board member and roadblock advocate Robert Voas admitted, "Drivers in the .08 to .09 range often do not exhibit the blatant erratic driving of higher BAC offenders, so that the evidence for probable cause may not be present for stopping a vehicle."
As the policeman approaches your car, you roll down your window. "Good evening, officer."
The policeman shines a bright light in your face. "Have you had anything to drink tonight, sir?"
"Yes," you say, "but it was just two be - - - -."
"Please step out of the car."
Another long article, But worth the read:
In February, 2002, Mothers Against Drunk Driving President Millie Webb went before the U.S. Senate to call for a massive deployment of "sobriety" roadblocks. Webb suggested a billion dollars in tax receipts be used to fund this idea, along with other programs.
In her zeal to promote MADD's mission of eliminating any alcohol consumption before driving, Webb endorsed fear above freedom, insisting that MADD's version of unwarranted searches be imposed on drivers specifically because they do not display signs of intoxication!
"It's time to get MADD all over again," Webb told the Senate. But this is no "new MADD" Webb was inaugurating. MADD's roadblock campaign is simply the latest and most outrageous sign that MADD has become a Neo-Prohibitionist organization. In its first incarnation, MADD worked with adult beverage vendors and traffic safety authorities to educate the public about the dangers of drunk driving. But as Americans learned to drink responsibly and drive responsibly, reducing the drunk driving problem to what past MADD president Katherine Prescott called a "hard core of alcoholics who do not respond to public appeal," MADD was forced to change its mission.
In order to survive as an organization, MADD needed a new fight, and began a campaign to change the rules on what "drunk driving" was all about. No less a figure than MADD founder Candy Lightner criticized this radical change in focus, saying, "I worry that the movement I helped create has lost direction."
"If we really want to save lives, let's go after the most dangerous drivers on the road," Lightner said. But MADD had set off down a different road of its own -- one that could lead to a total prohibition on any alcohol consumption prior to driving, even one drink.
"If you choose to drink, you should never drive. We will not tolerate drinking and driving -- period," then-MADD President Karolyn Nunnallee warned in 1998.
When California adopted MADD's version of DUI laws in 1990, the state's Department of Motor Vehicles studied the impact, concluding that stricter standards only decreased drinking among "individuals who generally restrict their alcohol consumption before driving anyway."
Dangerous drunks and alcoholics did not drink less, but responsible consumers, fearing arrest, fines, incarceration, and public shame, did. This was exactly what MADD and other Neo-Prohibitionist groups wanted; Prescott telegraphed her bias in 1998 that "lowering the legal [arrest] standard will be a deterrent for light drinkers as well as heavy drinkers."
The same is true of MADD's proposed roadblocks. The group's announcements reveal that their support of roadblocks has nothing to do with safety, and everything to do with Neo-Prohibitionism.
"Because of the heightened visibility checkpoints give to DWI law enforcement, they are especially valuable and effective as a general deterrent If the public is aware the police will be conducting checkpoints... they drink less," they proclaim.
MADD National Advisory Board member Robert Voas represents an organization that proposes pulling over at least half the U.S. driving population each year. According to the Transportation Department, that's over 93.6 million drivers -- nearly two million a week pulled over without cause.
The effect of random roadblocks on the right of responsible people to consume adult beverages will be dramatic. If MADD succeeds, Americans would be afraid to have wine with an anniversary dinner, or to toast at a wedding reception.
Even having a beer at a buddy's house while watching the Final Four would be a risk -- you have to drive home, and there may be a "sobriety checkpoint" on the way. The plan is designed to have a chilling effect on the most responsible of social drinkers.
And though Webb did not say as much to the Senate, that is exactly what MADD wants. American Beverage Institute
Prohibition, Drip By Drip
"A government that is big enough to give you all you want is big enough to take it all away."
--- Barry Goldwater (1964)