Abby Wambach’s Arrest Begs the Question, Why Is This a Crime?
Should Drunk Driving Be a Crime?
This is the question asked by Danny Cevallos, a CNN Legal Analyst, in his latest Op-ed piece discussing soccer star Abby Wambach’s recent DUI arrest.
Cevallos argues that if the government really wanted to eliminate drunk driving, then they would make a strict prohibition against it. That is, they would flat out make it illegal for anyone to consume alcohol and then get behind the wheel of a car.
But they don’t. Instead, what legislatures in our country have concluded is that driving while over a certain intoxication level (.08) is illegal. They’ve then enacted strict penalties and fines for those who commit the offense. The problem with all this? Well, they’re sending us all very mixed signals…
Unlikely Criminal Defendants: “The defendants waiting for their cases in the DUI courtroom come from all walks of life. Don’t believe me? Your grandmother probably never stole a car or mugged a college student. But your grandmother might have gotten a DUI she never told you about. DUI defendants can be CEOs, teachers, nurses, and yes, even other lawyers.”
Socially Acceptable Crime: “Sure, it’s a question of personal responsibility, but why is it so much easier for upstanding citizens to refrain from all other crimes, except DUI? It’s the mixed signals. Most other criminal activity unambiguously violates our social norms. There’s no “gray area” when it comes to smoking meth at a cocktail party, for example. Most crimes are also social faux pas, such that you would neither engage in, nor tolerate the behavior from a peer. With DUIs, however, there are mixed messages. Most people are surprised to learn that it’s not actually illegal to drink and drive. Technically, it’s only illegal to drive while “impaired” by alcohol. What does “impaired” mean? Well, in most states, it means one of two things: 1) some scientific piece of equipment purports to identify, separate and measure the ethanol in your blood, e.g., by using a method called gas chromatography; or, 2) an officer, who has never met you before, just concludes that you are intoxicated by looking at you.”
You Can Drink and Drive, Until You’re Impaired: “Either way, the lesson to be drawn from our laws is not “don’t ever drink and drive.” Instead it’s “you can drink and drive until you are ‘impaired,’ which is an arbitrary concept measured by 1) a sophisticated piece of machinery and a scientific method totally unavailable to the average driver; OR 2) just the opinion of some officer with zero medical or scientific training whatsoever.” Let’s face it, our government, along with the nightlife and alcohol industry, only pretends to abhor drinking and driving. If our federal or state governments really wanted to end drinking and driving, they would simply make it a zero tolerance crime. There would be no “.08” blood alcohol content wiggle-room. There’s no permissible level of intoxication when it comes to driving on LSD, or crack. And every beer commercial during the Super Bowl encourages us to drink, but to “drink responsibly.” What does that even mean?”
Drunk Driving Solved by Capitalism: “Historically, a DUI conviction itself brought only nominal, feigned social censure. In the past, “What were they thinking?” really meant “That could have been me.” Now, however, things are different. Now, the proper question is: “What were they thinking? Have they heard of Uber?” It’s crazy when you think about it. Law enforcement, state legislatures, and the private sector’s efforts to combat drunk driving— both sincere and obligatory — may ultimately be dwarfed by an iPhone app and some good old fashioned capitalism. The market has spoken: Drinking and driving is dumb not because it’s illegal, and not because of any cultural morality. Drinking and driving is now dumb because it’s just more convenient to climb into a comfortably appointed UberX after the bar, and pass out safely in the back seat, for just seven bucks.”
Abby Wambach’s arrest for a crime that makes no sense, By Danny Cevallos, CNN Legal Analyst 2016
Is it a Crime or Isn’t it?
The fact that the occurrence of drunk driving can be diminished through pure capitalism proves that it shouldn’t be classified as a crime at all. It also shows that there’s an underlying financial incentive for classifying it as a criminal offense. States get to have successful bars and restaurants that profit off of the alcohol consumption of their customers. These same customers are then penalized by the state for their consumption of alcohol, paying millions of dollars in fines and fees to the government.
The only one who wins? The government.
What a way to play with the lives of your citizenry.