Florida Jim wrote:Bob,
Please, forgive any stridency you find in my response but I find this just another short-sighted way to treat the symptom and not the cause.
IMO, every vehicle licensed to use the highways of this country should have an alcohol detection device attached to the ignition that would require a person to blow into it before the ignition would activate.
Obviously, this is not a cure all (someone who hasn't been drinking could blow instead) and does nothing to stop drug induced driving. But the DUI problem is so large and so devisive that I think any action to stop the driving in the first place is more rational than murder charges.
And the costs involved in policing and punishing DUI far outweigh the costs of such devices.
Regarding Bob's issue: it seems to me that a charge of murder can be supported if it can be shown that the person displayed willful disregard for human life in choosing to drive after drinking. Specifically, if it can be shown that he was warned not to drive or forcefully resisted having his keys taken from him, I think that a charge of murder is not out of the question. As ever with legal issues, the Devil is in the details.
Florida Jim wrote:If you can, put aside the legal issue for a moment and look at this from any other perspective you find appropriate. I'd be curious to hear what you have to say.
And, what does IANAL mean?
Mark Lipton wrote:As I [thought I] said in my previous post, I think that the most effective way to combat DUI is with a pro-active education program to try and inculcate a general understanding of the terrible consequences of impaired drivers on the road, coupled with a forceful (non-criminal) response to a DUI involving treatment for alcoholism and/or revocation of driving privileges.
Dale Williams wrote:Jim, I sometimes go to afternoon tastings where I spit completely. But a few ITB folks have told me that breathalyzer will show alcohol for 15-30 minutes, so if stopped one should ask for a drawn blood test or to be tested at station. I would doubt that an installed breathalyzer in a car would be able to differentiate. Nor would I think it appropriate that a diner couldn't have one glass of wine.
Dale Williams wrote:I realize you have to blow hard to make a breathalyzer work, but any alcohol in your mouth (such as if you have spit ) can be picked up on way through- lung air has to pass through mouth. Which is why I've been told that if one is ever stopped after spitting you should calmly and politely explain that you would like a more definitive drawn blood test, or ask to wait a few minutes (the alcohol in mouth apparently disappears within 15-30 minutes.
I'm sure that one could adjust a start-connected device, but the only ones I know of are court-ordered for previous offenders with zero/very low tolerance.
If such devices became the norm, I predict a sudden boom in the valet parking business at restaurants. I'd guess there are a lot of ways around those devices. One result of zero-tolerance policies for alcohol for underage drivers is apparently a boom in the designated stoner driver. Sigh.
Sam Platt wrote:This issue is very difficult for obvious reasons. I have a co-worker whose son was killed by a drunk driver about 12 years ago. The drunk driver in question was a well respected local business man who made a really stupid decision. The family of the victim was completely devastated by their loss and will never fully recover. After spending almost 4 months in the hospital the driver was convicted of some type of manslaughter and served one year of a two year prison sentence. He lost everything, wife, money and real estate business included. In his case I do not believe that prison time did any good for anyone. The family of the victim agrees. They continue to morn their loss. He moved to Florida where he lives alone and works for a catering service. An instant of bad judgment changed more than half a dozen lives forever.
I agree that the focus should be on the prevention side.
The point of this is that one-sized fits all solutions won’t work. Do the folks in the middle deserve to lose their licence permanently after only one offence? Is locking up all drunk drivers really going to solve the problem?
Personally, I cringe at “tough on crime” statements because they are too simplistic. If a stiff punishment were deterrent enough, then shouldn’t a state like Texas be executing fewer, if any, criminals for murder? In fact, research would suggest that while tough sentences are somewhat of a deterrent, the risk of getting caught is far more effective in preventing crime.
With the worst tax cheats, the study recommends using the full force of the law. Come down hard on them – they will try to offend no matter what. Education programs and publicizing enforcement activities will take care of the contingent non-compliers, as they don’t like taking risks if they know there's a good chance they'll face consequences.
With drunk driving, I think it should be similar. Sentences should be in relation to the seriousness of the offense and based on prior record. I don’t know what Martin Heidgen’s history is, but if he has any previous convictions for impaired driving, then a murder charge may be appropriate. A strong sentence also has an element of public safety because it keeps the worst offenders behind bars and off the roads.
Increase resources to checkstop programs and publicize enforcement and prosecutions. That’s a very effective deterrent for those folks in the middle.
Of course, if someone is killed, that should be considered an aggravating factor in the charges and sentencing. But ultimately, I think a thought out and well measured, rather than emotional, response is not only more effective, but more just.