The other night I was at a NBA game. Right across from me in the arena was a huge sign proclaiming “Extra DUI Enforcement during Month of December”. That made me “MADD”.
One in seven licensed drivers in Minnesota has had a DUI. Last year there were 1,171,935 DUI arrests in the United States.I’ve seen statistics that a DUI cost the average person as much as $10,000 when you add up all the soft and hard cost for fines, time, lawyer’s fees, lost income, etc. That is a lot of human carnage; and I believe this estimate is quite low.
If you’ve had a DUI, or know someone who has, you know what a nightmare it is with the endless courses and breathalyzers. Of course, MADD wants breathalyzers in every car. If we aren’t careful we will soon have a zero-tolerance for driving after alcohol consumption. There really seems to be no end to how much they want to impede our personal freedom.
Each year in the United States about 10,000 people are killed in alcohol-related traffic incidence. That is a lot of unnecessary death that should be avoided, but haven’t we misdirected our efforts?
I’m an insurance agent who sells thousands of auto insurance policies a year through my agency. The penalty for DUI has become less and less important to determining auto premiums over the last few years as companies have seen much less correlation between a DUI and ultimate loss. A low credit score is a much more connected indicator of probable loss.
Given the evangelistic fervor of MADD perhaps they should be pushing for criminal punishment for bad credit?
Insurance companies are trying to write coverage for responsible people. Insurance companies are statistics-driven and believe that a DUI, which is defined as .08 Blood Alcohol Content is no longer the problem it once was. They know that chronic drinkers . . . those with multiple DUIs. . .are the problem, and Extra DUI Enforcement isn’t necessarily going to reduce their drinking. The serial offenders don’t care.
I rarely drink, so I’m personally not impacted by MADD’s policies, but their lack of direction is frightening.
The pushback they give is that other countries are “ahead” of us in demanding lower BAC tolerance. That, of course, ignores the lack of public transportation we have in the USA compared to other countries. We believe in individual freedom, supposedly. Individual freedom does come at a price.
Imagine if instead of penalizing those 1.2 million people at the rate of $10,000 each, we used that over $10 billion dollars a year to actually do something constructive to change human behavior, especially with the chronic drunk driver.
Wouldn’t it seemingly make much more sense to make the first time offense a lot less obnoxious, but to include an evaluation for serial drunk driving?
That evaluation would include an overall check of mental health, a determination of personal responsibility, a judgment of their propensity for risky substance abuse, a criminal background check, a determination of the individual’s desire for change and an overall indication of their attitude toward risky driving in general.
DUI has become a mini-industry for governmental revenue, lawyers’ income, and many ancillary services. If these were leading to changes in human behavior that is warranted by the huge cost, I would have no problem with it, but it clearly has gone well past a reasonable point.
MADD obviously has bloated power with our lawmakers. People need to stand up to this abusive behavior that is curtailing our individual rights and preventing us from putting enough efforts into real solutions.
Distracted driving, speed, aggressive driving . . . all are causing traffic fatalities. We have much less aggressive penalties in those areas. It’s time to take a real look at where we are.