Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Just like the war on terror, we as a nation need to fight the war on drunken driving.

We have been having a very interesting discussion on drinking and driving and whether or not Wisconsin laws should be stiffened.

For the most part, folks have been very respectful of each other. I just wanted to take another moment to address some of the issues that were brought up in the comment section.

In addition, several people have called or sent an email regarding the same subject. Here are some of the issues and arguments that I have heard from a few folks this past week- many of these arguments are legitimate and deserve a response.

I was asked to take the emotion out of this- Sorry, but I cannot do that. It is almost like asking Americans to take the emotion out of 9/11. It is just not possible. In the last 20 years that statistics have been available, 1984 thru 2004, 410,997 people have been killed in alcohol related crashes. Almost half a million people have been killed in drunken driving crashes in 20 years. We all need to be emotional about these types of problems.

Someone stated that this is a slippery slope- Yes, it is a slippery slope. Police officers who may be stopping folks have the opportunity to not only check and see if a person has been drinking, but also look for various other infractions also. However, the police are still required to follow the same laws that we have now. You can refuse to have your car searched and you may even refuse to take a sobriety test. I expect law enforcement to follow the rules when stopping and searching vehicles. If they do not, we have ways of protecting ourselves in a court of law.

Someone told me that she wanted no more new laws- I can understand this, but people are dying on our streets. Some of the laws we have today are not working. I do not want to live in a lawless society. Some laws are necessary to protect people.

Once again, the constitutionality of sobriety checkpoints has been called into question- No one has the right to drive. See below for the rest of my argument.

As for my rebuttal, I would like to point out one simple fact that everyone seems to overlook when discussing this issue. Driving is not a right. Driving is not a freedom that we have been assured in the constitution.

Driving is a privilege and a responsibility.

Think about this for a moment. In order to get a driver’s license, we must all pass a series of tests. A person must first be physically able to drive. For instance a blind person may not drive. They do not have the right to drive, nor are they given the responsibility to drive, for obvious reasons. We take drivers licenses from the elderly when they become a danger to themselves and a danger to others. We take licenses from perfectly healthy people when they have too many accidents and are clearly a risk to themselves and to the people around them.

Driving is a lot like flying. A person does not have the right to fly. All of us are well aware of the fact that there are security checkpoints a person must go thru before you are able to fly. They can search our bags without reason. Airport securities x-ray everything in our bags. If airport security chooses to, they may even pull you out of line and search you individually. These days, even our shoes get to take a little ride on the conveyer belt.

These are all practices that we accept if we plan on flying. We do not argue with these rules, we accept them as a part of flying. If we do not like the rules, we just do not fly. Most of us understand that these rules are necessary and our meant to keep us safe.

These rules are not meant to harass us.

Why is it that we cannot get similar rules for the road?

We know that around 17,000 people are killed and over 250,000 people are injured each year in alcohol related crashes, when does the madness stop?

As Americans, we have no problems fighting the war on terrorism. More people are dying from drunken driving and yet, too many Americans are not willing to fight the war on drunken driving.

17,000 deaths and 250,000 injuries a year by drunken driving is a huge problem. We can fix this problem.

No one is trying to take your beer away from you, Wisconsin. Drink all you want, just don’t drive.

A drunk driver has already taken the life of one of my friends, I don't want a drunk driver taking the life of any more of my friends.

Just like the war on terror, we as a nation need to fight the war on drunken driving.


Cate said...

I agree that we need to be much more proactive in fighting the war on drunk driving, I'm just not convinced that searching drivers is the solution.

It's kind of like gun laws. Rabid anit-second amendment liberals propose new gun restriction after restriction yet there are already many laws on the books that currently aren't being enforced. We need to start carrying through on the punitive measures available to us before we move to a step that will, at best, be a major hassle and inconvenience and is, at worst, an infringement on our rights.

Cate said...

Kathy, did you see the article in the JS today? It profiled the AG candidates positions on the issue. Let me summarize: Bucher: we need to criminilize first offenders (I agree) and set up checks (less thrilled about this idea); Van Hollen: has no plan. Well, he said he wanted to go after repeat offenders, but his hands will be tied since I believe a second offense is already a felony. What's he going to do, walk into every courtroom in the state during every DWI trial and DEMAND the judge enforce a strict sentence? So yeah, basically his stance amounts to nothing.

BBG said...

Once AGAIN Bucher is on the correct side of this issue and once AGAIN JB has no plan.

No wonder Belling calls JB the no wear around Mike McCann of western Wisconsin.