Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Utah Centralist: Another DUI tragedy....

In the article Another DUI tragedy.... UtahCentralist slammed "extreme libertarians" for their stance against drunk driving laws with the quote:

There are some out there, mainly extreme libertarians and road warriors who say that drunk driving laws out to be abolished. They say that if someone is driving impaired they should only be ticketed for what they did wrong and that they should not be prosecuted for drunk driving because its in their rights to drink.

Few of the libertarians I know would argue in favor of drunk drivers. Unfortately, there appear to be some wanks like Llewellyn Rockfeller, Jr. who do want to Legalize Drunk Driving. Poor Von Mises must be rolling in his grave.

It appears that Mr. Rockefellers mind fart style argument was written in response to new laws that were forced by the federal government to define intoxication at extremely low blood alcohol levels (0.08 percent). The laws also promised to put up road blocks hither, thither and yon to check people's blood alcohol level. His argument was that the new tough laws were aimed at the wrong issue:

But there's a more fundamental point. What precisely is being criminalized? Not bad driving. Not destruction of property. Not the taking of human life or reckless endangerment. The crime is having the wrong substance in your blood.

The current laws are not addressing the problems of poor driving by distracted drivers. The laws are driven by moral judgments on drinking. Cyclists know that cellphone users are as bad as drunks.

[[ Thump ]]

ooopsie, I think I just hit a bike ... and you were saying ...

As I understand, libertarians do not want to see the road full of drunks. They are questioning the methods to acheive safer roads. They think the best way to clear the road of bad drivers is tough civil lawsuits and criminal punishment for the havoc that such drivers wreak. Rockefeller would want the drunk driver who kills others to be punished for the "murder" and not for a substance in his body. Here is Rockefeller's quote: "it is perverse to punish a murderer not because of his crime but because of some biological consideration."

The first big hole in Rockefeller's argument is that killing a person in an accident is manslaughter and not murder. Murder involves malice aforethought. Drunk driving fatalities are the result negligence and lack of thought. The second is that the damages of the accident generally get picked up by insurance.

The biggest hole in Rockefeller's argument is that the act of neglect associated with drunk driving occurs when the drunk gets behind the wheel with impaired judgment.

Quite frankly, I think most libertarians (at least of the classical liberal variety) agree with the current structure that sees driving as a privilege. DUI is cause to revoke that privilege.

When a person intentionally sits down and plans a night out of drinking (followed by driving), or when people plan an umpteen hour marathon drive, they are being negligent. The police are within their duty to challenge such negligence. Driving a vehicle is a privilege and not a right.

There are, of course, issues about how aggressively the police should pursue DUI. Llewelyn Rockefeller was writing in response to legislation by Clinton which was overriding state laws and forcing us ever closer to a nanny state. It seems to me that the correct context of Rockefeller's argument was to juxtapose one extreme with another.

I agree for the most part with the libertarian sentiment. The nanny state tends to get out of hand. Rather than depending on the state to protect us, we should focus our efforts on promoting individual responsibility.

Speaking of individual responsibility. The drunk driving incident that started UtahCentralist on his rant involved an undocumented alien who did not have a driving license. So that rant was pretty much a moot point. A person with zero respect for immigration law is not going to be all that big on thinking that driving is a privilege.

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