Eliminating Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatalities: What Can Be Done?

A viewpoint article from the latest Annals of Internal Medicine

’ most alcohol-impaired crash fatalities are caused by drivers without a prior DUI conviction’

‘mandatory installation of the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety in new vehicles is a promising primary prevention strategy’


First, they came for our guns; then, when we were disarmed, they came for our booze.

You are talking in the past tense . . . ?!

I feel you should be careful with your discussions

You might stir up a hornet’s nest . . . you know how political and/or out of hand the discussions on this website tend to get

Perhaps that was your intent

By political, I mean that YOU brought up guns . . . that tends to get political REAL fast

I’m staying out of this

But I did warn you

I’m not sure what can be done, because I don’t think you can legislate stupidity out of people.

There’s a story in my local newspaper today. It seems a man stopped to drink at 6 different restaurants and bars in the course of one evening, ending up severly intoxicated. At the end of the night, a woman decided to ride as a passenger in his vehicle. The drunk man then drove into a house, causing permanent injury to the woman. So now she is suing the 6 bars for $30 million.

The woman thinks that the reward for willingly getting into a car with a drunk driver is to be paid $30 million by 6 businesses. The drunk driver is quoted as saying he is sorry for what happened to her. As if implying that he’s not responsible for it. I’m surprised no one is suing the car maker.

Everyone else (except @asemaster) stayed out of it, not you.

We try to legislate the heroin, cocaine, meth, marijuana, and abortions out of them; why stop there? I hadn’t heard of the ‘driver alcohol detection system’ -perhaps it works. Seatbelt laws seem to have worked, as have mandatory airbags.

You can sue anyone you want for any reason you want. Some guy in DC has been suing a dry cleaner for ruining his pants for years. Only settlements matter.

Why should I have to pay for a feature in my new car when I haven’t ever been even pulled over for DUI let alone convicted?? I haven’t committed a crime and yet I’m penalized. This is a bridge too far and we should resist this.

These devices get installed on cars of people convicted of DUI in many counties. Nicknamed Blow and Go. The driver has to blow into a tube to prove they aren’t drunk before the car starts. It is a reasonably effective tool to keep alcoholics from driving drunk. Unless some enterprising sober individuals think they can make money blowing into the tube of drunks cars for money.

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Because they may run into you.

Somebody has to blow into it, not necessarily the driver.

As I said right here;

I’m in favor of walking back some DUI regulations. I think it’s absolutely ridiculous that if I’m drunk, and I have my car keys in my pocket, and I’m standing next to my car in the parking lot of a bar, I can legally be arrested for drunk driving. Not because I actually drove - I didn’t - but because I could potentially have driven.

Aside from the fact that this opens up a whole legal can of worms (a 12 year old is potentially an adult and therefore he’s an adult and can drink, drive, vote, and fight in the military?) it’s an egregious overreach of governmental authority. I mean, by that logic the fact that I own a chef’s knife means I can potentially kill my neighbor, so I should therefore be in prison.

On the other hand, other DUI laws are entirely too lax. There are a lot of people driving around out there with double-digit DUI convictions on their records. Why? You should face very heavy penalties after the first one, lose your license after the second one, and be imprisoned if you’re caught driving again before you get the license back, drunk or not.

As far as pre-drive breathalyzers, I think it’s a lot closer to my first point than my second. I think mandating that everyone take a breath test before driving would be vastly over the top. The majority of drivers do not drive drunk. It would be unnecessarily wasteful and expensive to assume that all of them will and require them to prove that they’re not.


I agree with that point. But perhaps you should be picked up for public drunkenness.

I EMPHATICALLY agree with that point.
I’ve long argued that if someone fails a field sobriety test the car should be impounded… whether it’s theirs or not. If acquitted, the car should be returned without charge. If convicted, the car should be confiscated… whether it’s theirs or not. Nobody is going to loan their buddy, or son, or daughter their car if that person has already had a car confiscated for DUI. Thus, in most cases, that would remove the ability of a DUI to repeat by removing the car from the equation. Other penalties should also be stricter, but removing the car is the big one IMHO.

Yes, I know that the car’s owner would still be responsible for paying the loan. Tough. They wouldn’t likely make the mistake of lending their car to a drinker again.

You should loose your license after the first one.
In Denmark, you’ll loose it for three years and a fine of one months net. salary. And that’s fine with me.

I don’t believe that would be fair in all circumstances. If the owner knows that the person driving the vehicle is prone to drunk driving, I agree completely, but if the owner has said to the driver that, in order to drive my car, You have to follow the law. Period. No speeding, no drinking, no dangerous driving etc and the person driving the is NOT known to be a “bad person”, I find it hard to punish the owner that hard. Here, in order to let anybody drive your car, you have to see the persons drivers license before he/she takes off. I have friends/familymembers who can use my cars anytime they want, I have others that I would not even allow to touch my cars.

Yeah, I used to be of that mindset as well. But then back when I was a TV geek I did some stories on drunk driving issues. Turns out some people drive legally drunk, and they have no idea that they’re impaired. Most people wouldn’t think twice about driving after having 2 drinks over 4 hours on an evening out, but some people are actually impaired if they do that.

So, the first one isn’t free, but it isn’t “you’re going to get fired because you can’t get to work anymore” just to allow those who simply need to be educated that what they thought was sober driving isn’t to learn their lesson and move on.

I don’t advocate punishing people harshly when they do not realize they are committing a crime and have every intention not to commit that crime. But by the 2nd DUI, well, now they’ve had their wakeup call and they chose to stay asleep, so throw the book at 'em.

I will point out that I did say you should face very heavy penalties after the first one - this would include very steep, income-calibrated fines (because I don’t want a millionaire getting a fine that would bankrupt someone in poverty, and not caring because he won’t even notice it’s gone) and a great deal of community service.

Additionally, a 2-strikes sytem would allow people who get DUI’s for being near their not-driven car to continue to work and drive, since they didn’t do anything wrong, and now they know that they need to be extra careful any time they drink outside of their home lest the government falsely convict them of drunk driving when they aren’t driving.

Fair, and here you cannot get charged if you are not inside the car, that means that you can pick up your sleeping bag or whatever in the trunk at no risk. That’s the way it should be.


It would be nice if it was like that here.

There was a case awhile back where a guy was home in his apartment drinking. He got drunk, and then wanted to grab something out of his car. Got down there, and fell asleep in the car. Never drove it.

A concerned neighbor called the cops to check on him. The cops came out, woke him up, and charged him with DUI. They even acknowledged in their police report that the door was open, the keys were in the center console and not the ignition, and they felt the hood and it was cold so they knew the car had not been driven, but he got charged anyway, convicted, and the conviction was affirmed on appeal.

Absolutely inexcusable, and not only is it unjust to this poor sucker, but it means legal and penal system resources are tied up trying, convicting, and jailing this poor schmuck for doing absolutely nothing wrong or dangerous.


If we were serious about drunk driving we would not allow drinking establishments to be operated in places not reached by public transportation, and there should not be parking lots around bars and night clubs. Seriously, who’s going to drive those cars home at closing time anyway? A bunch of drunk drivers, that’s who.

I see Your point, but it could have happened that he woke up later and was hungry and thought that a nice little burger from Mcd. would be nice. I know, and believe in, the concept that you are innocent until proven guilty, but that situation has happened too many times.
A short rude version for potential drivers could be like:
Have you had to much to drink, don’t even get near your car.

Completely impossible, and unnecessary as well. This would mean no business, including restaurants, could serve alcohol in small towns that don’t have bus systems. That would be insane.

It would also presume that anyone who goes into an establishment that serves alcohol will get drunk there, which is somewhat like assuming that everyone who goes into a garden supply store is going to make a fertilizer bomb.

That’s true. That could happen. And I could kill my neighbor with my kitchen knife and then grind his body up in my snowblower and dump him in the lake behind my house.

This does not mean that it should be assumed that I will do any of those things.

There are all sorts of crimes you could potentially commit based on your ability and things near you. You’re at a computer right now, which means you could defraud someone on ebay, or steal someone’s identity, or download child porn. Unless you’re willing to be convicted for everything that you are capable of doing but have not actually done, then you shouldn’t expect others to be so treated.

You’re right, of course, but I wrote it to say something that bothers me. Our attitude about drinking is so mixed up. We have a zoning laws that force places that sell alcohol out of neighborhoods, so we force people to drive in order to get there. Then we punish people who consume alcohol and then go and try and get more. There’s very little logic in all of this.

True, but Your decision would be deliberate and the sleeping guy’s decision could be a poor and stupid judgement via an impaired brain. In either case, it doesn’t help the victim(s).
I’m sorry, but to me life matter more than somebodies drivers license. To be driving a vehicle of any kind on public roads is a privilege, not a right. Treat it with the same respect as you’ll do with - say - an AR15.

Not logical? Isn’t it logical that, when you have been drinking, then you are not allowed to drive, jeopardizing other peoples life?
I don’t mean to be rude, but I think it’s quite logical. Buy what you intend to drink the first time you go shopping or call a taxi if you need more, can you afford the booze, you can afford the taxi.

Interesting that you brought up guns, because a lot of folks have shot people accidentally by being careless with their weapons. Including one of our former vice presidents. There was a case in Wisconsin awhile back when a lady was killed by a hunter, who somehow thought she was a deer despite the fact that she was inside her house and he was looking at her through her window. Does that mean that everyone who owns a gun should be convicted of accidental homicide?

I own a cell phone, and I own a car, which means I could text while driving and then run over a kid. Perhaps I should be jailed for that as well, even though my phone stays in my pocket when I’m behind the wheel?

Bottom line is, if you haven’t actually committed the crime, you should not be convicted of it.

I completely agree with this. One big problem with our approach is that we act like giving any alcohol to anyone underage is some horrible, damaging thing. So we keep them away from alcohol their entire childhood, and then send them off to college where they go on a raging bender every Thursday night. If we’d drop the “demon liquor” attitudes, then people would have a much healthier approach to drinking, which means they wouldn’t get in the habit of binging whenever they’re out at a bar, and many problems including drunk driving would be reduced.