The case for drunk driving

Discussion in 'Politics' started by funkerdoink, Aug 18, 2008.

  1. Some arguments for the legalization of driving under the influence of alcohol

    Phew! Now, before the debates begin, how about we make sure we are on the same page by getting some fallacious arguments out of the way.

    The Argumentum ad Misericordiam Fallacy

    The argumentum ad misericordiam fallacy occurs whenever an argument contains an appeal to an emotion that is irrelevant to the actual argument under discussion. This is by far the most widely-employed fallacy whenever the topic of drunk driving is discussed. (Peruse MADD's website for two minutes for confirmation of this.) The fallacy usually surfaces in something like the following forms, (and which are actual replies to my article):

    "I sincerely hope that no one you know or love is killed by a drunk driver…You might then change your mind about whether prevention is better than punishment."

    "We are talking about the one thing that cannot be replaced."

    The reason why these sorts of arguments are instances of the argumentum ad misericordiam fallacy, and are thus improper, is that they appeal to emotions that have absolutely nothing to do with the argument under discussion. The debate over legalizing drunk driving is not between those who hate human life and those who cherish it, or between those who want people to die and those who want to save lives. Instead, the debate revolves around whether drunk-driving laws actually do what they're claimed to do, and whether they are consistent with the principles upon which law and ethics are based. Such, it is totally irrelevant whether or not I might change my mind if someone I know is killed by a drunk driver, or whether human life is irreplaceable. Either my arguments are sound, or they're not – and appeals to irrelevant emotional responses cannot help us determine whether my argument is sound. For example, if we were having a discussion about whether current drug laws actually do what they're claimed to do, it would be totally fallacious for me to shout out "Think of the children!" and think that I had somehow shown that drug prohibition is working.

    It is important for drunk-driving prohibitionists to recognize, moreover, that these appeals to emotion cut both ways. That is, we anti-prohibitionists can also appeal to emotions. We can point out that these ruthless laws have the effect of causing an extreme amount of pain for those who are persecuted by them. People who are pulled over and charged with drunk driving, without having caused even the slightest injury to anyone else, will have experienced an extreme amount of pain as a result. (And those who do cause harm can be charged with negligent manslaughter even in the absence of drunk-driving laws.) They can be fined, jailed, forced to take farcical MADD classes, serve "community service," be refused employment, and even sent to prison! As such, we opponents of drunk-driving prohibition are only standing up for this horribly oppressed, robbed and incarcerated group of men and women who never hurt anyone else. Whenever a drunk-driving prohibitionist declares "People's lives are priceless…," we opponents of drunk-driving prohibition will reply, "Exactly! That's why we ought not to inflict serious harm on innocent people who have harmed no other people!"

    Ad Hominem Fallacy

    The ad hominem fallacy occurs whenever an argument contains an irrelevant attack on a person's character. In the context of the debate over drunk driving, this fallacy usually surfaces as an accusation that a proponent of the legalization of drunk driving is a "drunk." Here is a classic, if somewhat trite, example:

    "Your opinion matches every other drunk I've known, in that you think that you are able to handle yourself behind the wheel."

    The reason why this sort of an attack is fallacious is that my personal character has absolutely nothing to do with my arguments. I might be a drunk, coke-head, hippie, serial killer, but these character traits have nothing to do with my arguments that drunk-driving laws have the exact opposite effect from what most people believe. Again, the arguments are either sound or they're not – regardless of whether I am a "drunk." Hence, if you want to demonstrate that my arguments are not sound, you had better provide something more than an accusation that I am a "drunk."

    Circular Argument Fallacy

    egging the question" occurs whenever someone assumes the very thing they are attempting to prove in their argument. In the context of the discussion over drunk-driving legalization, this fallacy usually arises when prohibitionists start talking about the law. For example, when discussing whether drunk-driving laws actually work, the prohibitionist sometimes argues that:

    "We have laws in this country governing driving. Like stop signs. If you break the law by driving through a stop sign, you get a ticket. The same is, and ought to be, true of drunk drivers. They break the law, and should be punished for it."

    The problem with this sort of argument is that is assumes from the outset that drunk driving ought to be illegal – which is the very thing the prohibitionist is attempting to prove! That is, the prohibitionist has used his conclusion as a basis for drawing that conclusion; i.e., the argument is circular. If you want to demonstrate that drunk driving ought to be illegal, then you have to provide an argument to that effect. You cannot simply assume that ought to be illegal throughout your entire argument, because you will be committing a serious logical fallacy. Similarly, you cannot argue that "because it's the law, that means it's wrong," because you need to prove to us anti-prohibitionists that it ought to be the law in the first place!

    What Proves Too Much, Proves Nothing

    Another common logical error committed by drunk-driving prohibitionists is to present arguments that clearly prove too much. That is, in their attempt to single out and vilify drunk drivers as absolute scum of the Earth, they draw conclusions that imply absurd consequences if they were taken to their logical conclusion. For example, prohibitionists often defend prohibition in the following manner:

    "Am I to understand that you support WAITING until someone DIES to object to another's irresponsibility? I find that simplistic, foolish, and unacceptable. The reason I do is that the life lost is irreplaceable!"

    The problem with this sort of argument is that it proves far, far too much (in addition to making an irrelevant appeal to emotion). For, this argument could be extended to all aspects of human life, and virtually everything people do would be punished by ruthless laws – regardless of whether people actually hurt anyone. This argument would apply, for example, to people who drive without their glasses (and who currently only get a minor ticket if pulled over, instead of a stay in jail), people who text on their phones while driving, people who ride their bikes with bad brakes, people who work with flammable liquids around other people, et cetera ad infinitum. In fact, if the argument were taken to its logical conclusion, every single human action would be punished by draconian laws and jack-booted policemen, since people can, and do, negligently kill other people in virtually every situation where men encounter one another on this planet. The argument does not give us any reason why we ought to single out drunk drivers to punish so ruthlessly, when we let other negligent people totally off the hook – like people who drive without their glasses.

    (In this connection, I've always been rather perplexed that Mothers against Drunk Driving chooses to hunt and crucify only drunk drivers, rather than negligent drivers generally. These mothers don't care about people who are killed through other types of negligent driving? Why don't they hunt down Grandpa like a wild beast when he kills someone after forgetting to put on his glasses?)


    Drunk driving laws do not do what they are believed to do (make people safer drivers).

    runk driving is not any different than any other negligent action behind the wheel (like driving while tired, angry, senile, or without one's glasses), and thus ought to only be punished when that negligent behavior harms another person.

    Furthermore, the argument against drunk-driving laws is based upon the observation that we already have laws to punish people when they harm other people through negligent or intentional action; i.e., negligent manslaughter and murder laws. The clincher is that drunk driving is not even remotely as great a danger as people almost universally believe that it is. For proof of this, watch Jeff Brown's excellent YouTube video discussing the statistics of drunk driving.

    Let the debates begin!

  2. That's a hell of a read. Alcohol is a poison. I didn't even read that but weed should be legalized before you can have a few drinks and drive around legally.

    Why drink and drive when you can smoke and fly.
  3. I didn't read it.

    But I think I saw a stupid argument for drunk driving based on the drunk's safety in finding a ride home.

    The laws are not for the drunks, they are for the innocent in the path of drunks.
    You are responsible for yourself, laws are are responsible for the protection of others.

    Drunk driving laws are not legal paternalism.
  4. Well, I've gotta say, I just do not agree with this at all...
  5. #5 scoobydooby67, Aug 19, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 19, 2008

    then your post means nothing.

    right, thats why i cant get high in my own house if i so choose, according to the law :rolleyes:

    thank god we have laws that save others from me getting high and sitting around watching movies.

    the issue is that at .08 bac, not everyone is affected the same way.

    im a big guy with a huuuuge fucking alcohol tolerance,

    at .08 i dont feel a damn thing.

    im not drunk till i hit the twenty mark.

    just cuz the average person is either a pussy when it comes to tolerance, or just a smaller person,

    why do they get to drive when at .08 bac they could be completely hammered?
  6. so should police officers should carry around BMI scales with them?

    I am a person that is also not drunk at .08 either.

    BTW, great post scoob
  7. #7 scoobydooby67, Aug 19, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 19, 2008

    obviously this would be a slightly more difficult process,

    but if you really wanted to be fair,

    then the bmi information wouldnt be that hard to record upon your drivers license.

    when you scan your driver's license barcode or run your license number,

    certain information pertaining solely to you comes up.

    obviously the argument against this would be protesting the state's open access to information that could be deemed "medical",

    but im just saying, itd be more fair.

    some skinny fuck gets schwasted at .08 bac and still gets to drive,

    when im not even in pregame mode yet?

    thats fucking unfair.

    why not have that bmi information accessible and have a breathalyzer that performs according to those conditions?

    the last dui i received was because:

    i was blocking in someone who had to rush to the hospital to attend to their mother suffering from a heart attack,

    and i merely drove 30 feet to repark my car,

    to do so i had to go half-way around the block,

    because the driveway was only one-way

    this involved only one turn, at only one stoplight.

    in that meantime, i neglected to see the "no right on red" sign (my mistake) upon the stoplight wire.

    i took the right on red.

    blue lights, disbelief, "sir, i detect the presence...", handcuffs.

    i blew .09/.11, and that was enough to take me in and charge me with a dui,

    rather then a simple right on red ticket.

    thats fucking bullshit.

    i was dead sober.

    fully conscious.

    and the cherry on top bullshit is:

    even if someone is arrested for failing sobriety tests due to their low tolerance,

    if the bac was .08 or below, any lawyer can get that charge dropped,

    for that person that actually did pose a threat behind the wheel -

    thats how fucking stuck they are on a goddamn generalized number.

    .08 is the holiest of holy numbers,

    and god help you if you arent "average".

  8. You lost your license didn't you, that fucking blows. DUI's used to be a regular traffic ticket, now they revoke your license. Really fucks peoples lives up when they throw around DUI's for people blowing .08. I've been lucky enough to only be pulled over once, but I had 4 cases of miller behind the seat. I'm underage so my license would of been revoked if they had found it.

    They will never change the .08 policy, it makes the politicians happy.
  9. i don't know what they can do about the crazy .08 law. Even if you take BMI into consideration. I'm a thin guy, but i can probably hold my liquor better than a dude heaver than me if that person is an occasional drinker. As scooby already stated, tolerance plays a roll in this as well.

    I guess there has to be some sort of limit, but i really don't have a solution. It sucks that people are so irresponsible and don't have the ability to use their judgment, but that's life i guess.
    i own a bar and hold a state liquor license, if a couple comes in for dinner and has a drink beforehand, and a bottle of wine with dinner, i can and will be held liable if they injure themselves or another person while driving. Because of this i pay about $30k per year in liquor liability insurance alone. Also as a liquor license holder, if i get arrested for a DUI i stand a very good chance of not being able to renew my license.
    As far as my own financial interests i would love to see them abolish these laws, but i do think there needs to be some limits. I just don't know any fair way to handle it.

  10. :(

    That is legal paternalism, but when you are on public roads its not.
  11. People seem to have some major misconceptions about BAC. The number itself automatically takes into account things like body mass and metabolism. In other words, if you weigh 300 pounds and you drink the same amount of alcohol as your 150 pound friend, your BAC won't be nearly as high as his. It helps to educate yourself about the subject instead of spreading lies.

    I find it quite ridiculous that people are actually trying to make an argument for drunk driving. Your opinion will change the day someone close to you is killed because of it.
  12. Read The Argumentum ad Misericordiam Fallacy (the first fallacy posted). This is almost the exact same example that was posted, people really need to read what they are trying to disprove before trying to prove their point.

    Anyways, it seems that most people didn't read any of the quoted articles, which to be honest, I was somewhat expecting.

    So.. I will repost the conclusion in hope that it will redirect the argument (it got off track pretty damn quick).


    Drunk driving laws do not do what they are believed to do (make people safer drivers).

    runk driving is not any different than any other negligent action behind the wheel (like driving while tired, angry, senile, or without one's glasses), and thus ought to only be punished when that negligent behavior harms another person.

    Furthermore, the argument against drunk-driving laws is based upon the observation that we already have laws to punish people when they harm other people through negligent or intentional action; i.e., negligent manslaughter and murder laws. The clincher is that drunk driving is not even remotely as great a danger as people almost universally believe that it is. For proof of this, watch Jeff Brown's excellent YouTube video discussing the statistics of drunk driving."

    You see I am not promoting driving while intoxicated, I'm just pointing out the absurdity of the laws... but please if didn't even read the post don't just throw around fallacious arguments, or better yet stay out of the discussion entirely.
  13. I read all of the quoted articles, actually. Thanks for completely ignoring the point I was making:
    In response to:
    In actuality, BAC is a fairly accurate indicator of how intoxicated someone is.... much more accurate than some are giving it credit for. I don't feel comfortable sharing the road with ANYONE who has a BAC of .08 or higher, whether they're a marathon drinker or a lightweight. That's why it's a proportion. People keep saying that they aren't even buzzed at .08 and could operate a vehicle just fine... but alcohol has the ability to impair judgement. I've seen plenty of people get much drunker than they realize.
  14. When and if Marijuana ever becomes legal, the way they figure out to see how high you are will be the end of me. They will probly have a scale to see how chinese you look, and that will cut down also on all the bad asian drivers on the road, because we all know asian people can not drive worth a damn.
  15. #15 Norma Stits, Aug 21, 2008
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2008
    personally i think .08 is too low. That's just my opinion. It makes running a bar very difficult when someone can have 3 beers and be considered legally intoxicated.

    i never mentioned abolishing the law, there does need too be a limit in place, but not .08
    There's a lot of sober people out there that i don't want to share the road with either.. but i have to unfortunately.
    Before they changed the law to .08 were you comfortable driving with them? Are you comfertable driving with somebody with a .07?
  16. First off, I don't understand why you say that drunk driving laws make people "less likely" to slow down and drive safely while driving impaired.

    Drunk driving has been shown to be without a doubt, very, very dangerous. Do some people perhaps have the ability to drive safely drunk? Perhaps, but the overwhelming statistical evidence (if you really want I can get specific) makes it clear that it's not a risk worth taking at all.

    Except drunk driving has been show to correlate much more with people dying than any of the others. And only punishing if someone gets unlucky and actually does harm others is totally illogical. Driving drunk is shown to be extremely dangerous, period. There is absolutely no need for it when people can just use designated drives.
  17. i dont think they should even use a .08 level to test if you're too impaired to drive

    i think it should be walk a straight line, say your alphabet, do that balance on one foot thing, follow a light with your eyes without movin your head.

    if someone can do that, they are not to impaired to drive, in my opinion.

    i've seen people who couldnt do it stoned(somehow) and those people i guess shouldnt be behind the wheel either.

    i don't think drunk driving is smart, but i do think that the .08 thing is bullshit, because some people can drink a lot and drive better than certain people that blow .07 but are a danger to the public.
  18. #18 UnbyJP, Sep 14, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 14, 2009
    I learned how to drive high, drunk, and on ritalin. It was a memorable experience. I was damn good apparently according to the drunk guy next to me who offered his car for the lessons. It was in the middle of the night in a college town tho. On a sorta related note, but not really, I dunno if anyone has mentioned it, but similar studies done both privately and government funded have tried to show a correlation between significant impaired driving and marijuana use, and apparently they've all come back 'inconclusive' because some people actually drove better, and most people were more cautious while driving high which usually more than made up for any impairment.
  19. Drunk driving isn't a danger because off possible loss of cognitive functions. The legal limits are so low, due to another risk factor alltogether, increased reaction times.

    So eventhough one may feel fine, alcoholics/other frequent drinkers, can feel pretty fine with impressive amounts of alcohol in them. But their reaction times will suffer just as bad as anyone else with similar blood-alcohol level.

    In traffick, or operating other heavy-machinery, the last thing one want from the ones doing it, is them being impaired. If something unexpected happens, it takes longer to react, and risk of accident increases significantly.

    Thousands of innocents die every year from drunkards that thought it was just fine for them to take a drive under the influence.

    Me, I never do it. Not once have I put myself behind the wheel of my car unless I feel 100% up to the task. That includes driving hungover.

    It's called not being a moron. If hungover, get some water and food into you before getting behind the wheel. Works wonders. Unless really hungover, then one should not leave the bed for anything but taking a piss. :)
  20. #20 SmokinP, Sep 14, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 14, 2009

    The five listed countries currently believed to have a zero blood-alcohol limit primarily or specifically for reasons of religion are: Bahrain, Mali, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, & UAE -- these are NOT included in any DSA totals or calculations showing what proportion of countries fall into certain BAC bands

    Armenia, Azerbaijan, Czech Republic, Hungary, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Romania, Slovak Republic, (Uzbekistan) (10 countries)


    Estonia*, Norway, Poland, (Sudan), Sweden (5)

    China, Georgia*, India, Japan, Moldova, Turkmenistan (6)

    Belarus, Lithuania* (2)


    Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Macedonia, Monaco, Namibia, Netherlands, Portugal*, Russia*, Serbia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Yugoslavia (35)

    Belize, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Ecuador, Fiji, Ghana, Ireland, Jamaica, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Tanzania, Uganda, United Kingdom, USA, Zimbabwe (21)

    Possibly Swaziland, but see 0.15%, below. [Many American states had this limit but Delaware was the last to sign up for a 0.08% limit, in July 2004.]
    Swaziland* (1) (82 applicable countries, excluding religion-mandated zeros)

    .08% is at the higher end of the scale...
    Could be lot lower..

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