Friday, July 15, 2005

Drinking and driving - the battle continues

The Detroit Free Press gave information on research they collected in mid May regarding drunk driving incidents around Detroit. They received information on more than 100 arrests in a 4 day period, here. Some of the highlights include:
A woman found passed out at the wheel of her 2005 Chevy Impala, her 1 1/2 year old son in car seat in back. Her foot is on the brake and the car is in drive. Officer pounds on the window; the car moves 10 feet. Driver tells officer she had a couple of beers at a friend's and is tired. She is driving on a suspended license and blows .20%. She has two prior drunken-driving convictions.

A 26 year old woman in a 1992 Mercury Sable hits another car, damaging her own front end. She says she is on her way to pick up her child from day care after drinking at a bar. She blows 0.16%.

A 50 year old man in a 1995 Dodge van is stopped after running a stop sign, speeding and almost hitting a parked car. He says he had a few beers and adds, "Come on, I'm just going home." He blows 0.24%.

A 46 year old man swerved into oncoming traffic in a 2002 Jeep Liberty and repeatedly strikes the curb. One tire is flat. There are open intoxicants in the car. He blows 0.18%.

I don't know any real solution to the problem; I just emplore people to be very careful if/when they drink.


Weary Hag said...

I read a recent article (can't recall to give it proper credit) where they are currently testing some prototype autos in certain U.S. cities ~ said autos include a device which will not allow you to start your engine without first blowing into a breatholizer to measure alcohol content. If you're over the legal limit, your car won't start.
Only if the trial run proves effective, one American automaker has already agreed to sign on to install them in all vehicles, sometime down the line.
Sounds like a fine idea to me.

Steve said...

I went to a bar in Vancouver, British Columbia once that had a breathalyzer machine at the door. The idea was that you would check to see if you were able to drive home before you left. I wonder if a law requiring breathalyzers in bars and a surrender of car keys until one passes a breathalyzer might not be a bad idea.
I don't like the idea of having to voluntarily surrender my own possessions for something like that, but I suppose if one didn't want to give up their car keys, then they'd not go to the bar...

Cassie said...

In my short stint at a probation office we had many "customers" who had to have breathalizers (officially called Ignition Interlock Systems)installed in their cars. The car wouldn't start if they registered anything on the breathalyzer and a report was automatically sent to the probation officer. (Many of them had a "no alcohol" condition on their probation which is another subject altogether)The technology is there but unless it's a mandatory feature of a vehicle, how likely is it that the average alcoholic is going to purchase a car installed with it?

We had people come in at 9am and blow .20 which is insane. How about a side of eggs with your Jack and Coke?

I think the idea of a breathalyzer in a bar is a great idea. I don't want to comment on whether or not it should be mandatory or one should have to surrender ones keys if they blow more than the limit but I for one would be more likely to partake at a bar if I knew what my BAC was before leaving. As it is now, I will not drink unless I'm at home or my husband is not going to have anything to drink at all. Since I'm not much of a drinker it's not a huge sacrifice for me.

Just a note: Physical Control is equal to a DUI charge and in Washington State you can be charged with that if you are in possession of your keys while being in or around your vehicle when you are over the legal limit. If you're going to sleep it off you better toss your keys into the bushes or something if you don't want to get in trouble.

Weary Hag said...

Breathalizers in bars would be a wonderful start, but it won't serve any purpose for those who attend a car game at Joey's house and booze it up all night ~ nor will it stop the living room alcoholic from running out for a pack of smokes at half-time. The Ignition Interlock System (thank you for the name of it) gets my vote, but only on the assumption that it would be a pre-installed piece of standard equipment.

Michelle said...

They have breathalisers here down under. In Australia we have "booze buses". They are police run buses and cars placed at random spots all over the country. The police pull you over and randomly test you, if you blow more than the legal limit for the State you live in, then you automatically are fined and loss of drivers licence for a certain amount of time.
This has workly amazingly well, and kept our drink driving deaths and accidents down.

Anonymous said...

I think that the first offense should render a one year house arrest.

Skippy-san said...

What your post really highlights is the flawed approach of US DUI laws. Insurance companies did a study that pointed out that most DUI arrests happen in the .08-.11 range and the .19-.21 range. So all lowering the limit did was to increase revenues for state and city governments. The higher BAC people know they are drunk, they just do not care. That's who law enforcement should really target.

Also lets face it, public transportation is not the best in the US. One reason other nations have lower rates of DUI arrests, despite having tighter DUI laws is that they have alternative ways to get around so that one can drink responsibly.

A year's house arrest for first offense is horse shit. Some guy blows a .08 and you want to screw up his job and his life? What point does that accomplish.

Enforce the law, but end some of the really stupid practtices like manadatory participation in AA and being handed over to the treatement Nazis