California, often in the forefront of anti-tobacco hysteria, is taking tentative steps to move on to tackling alcohol.
The primary reason the so-called progressive state hasn’t yet begun a serious attack on alcohol is due to the highly profitable wine industry. The secondary reason is that the media bigwigs are drunks, at least so appear to be judging by the quality of their output. Since money is immaterial to prohibitionists, as long as its other people losing it, and legislators elevate "health" above all, bills are popping up in Sacramento that address problems associated with drinking.
It’s difficult to argue against legislation designed to crack down on drunk driving. Certainly no one believes that people should tank up on their favorite adult beverage and take to the wheel. There is a natural reluctance to question any effort to curb death and injury caused by drunk drivers and this reluctance is used by prohibitionists to terminate debate.
In the California legislature a bill has been introduced that would require all those convicted of driving under the influence to purchase an alcohol ignition interlock that would prevent the driver from starting the car. The devices were designed to prevent chronic drunk drivers from motoring down the highway while inebriated.
So what’s wrong with requiring all those convicted of a DUI from installing the device? Plenty, according to the author of one of the commentaries to which we link. To begin the author looks at the absurd zero tolerance mentality behind the proposed law. There is a huge difference between driving after 10 drinks and driving after a glass of wine. Because the anti-drinking crowd has been successful in dumbing down what constitutes inebriation all 50 states now consider someone to be driving under the influence if the blood alcohol concentration exceeds 0.08. This low level is an artificial construct that has very little relationship to reality. Some states have adopted the standard of the Ohio Highway Patrol: "There is no ‘absolute legal limit’ except ‘zero.’" People throughout the United States have been arrested for drunk driving even though they were completely sober.
Still, what’s wrong with being safer than sorrier? The author opposing the interlock devices notes that policing resources are misdirected when every incident where the driver has had any alcohol, no matter in what quantity, is treated as severely as a raving drunk. Treating first time offenders the same as chronic drunks dilutes the seriousness of the real harm that real drunk driving can cause. The author is not paranoid by suggesting that the ultimate goal of the anti-drinking crowd is the imposition of the interlock devices on every vehicle driven in the country. The author cites accident rates, death rates and all sorts of statistical data. What’s most disturbing is the familiar pattern that emerges. While most accidents are caused by carelessness, those unlucky enough to have any alcohol in the blood stream are treated far more harshly than those whose carelessness, although resulting from the same causes, such as talking on the phone, rummaging through the glove compartment, yakking with passengers, is somehow less severe because they had had no alcohol. Treating those who had a glass of wine identically to those who drank a pint of vodka before jumping in the car diminishes the seriousness of drunk driving.
The argument in favor of requiring the interlock device for all convicted of driving under the influence, including first time offenders, comes directly from the Mothers Against Drunk Driving. MADD must be given credit for making drivers aware of drunk driving a generation ago. They worked tireless to ensure that punishment did fit the crime. Now that most of MADD’s early goals of been obtained it, like all other groups set up to solve particular problems, needs a reason to exist. MADD’s purpose is now alcohol prohibition. It, and its allies in the behavioral control business, will not be satisfied with the bill currently under consideration in Sacramento. Each success inspires another, more radical "solution" to what it defines as a problem.