NTSB: Lower Threshold For DUI From .08 To .05

A government panel is recommending that the BAC limit for drunk driving be lowered nearly 40%.

DUI Checkpoint

The National Transportation Safety Board is recommending that the standard blood alcohol limit at which someone is considered legally intoxicated be lowered:

WASHINGTON — Thousands of people are killed or injured every year by drivers who have not reached the legal standard for being drunk but who have a reduced ability to see, make decisions or operate a vehicle, the National Transportation Safety Board said on Tuesday, and it recommended that the states reduce the allowable blood-alcohol concentration by more than a third, to 0.05 percent from 0.08 percent.

The current standard was established a decade ago at the instigation of Congress, and progress has stalled, the board said, with about 10,000 fatalities a year.

“There are at least 10,000 reasons to tackle this issue,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, the chairwoman of the board. Foreign countries with stricter standards have had substantially more success, according to the board.

The board voted for a variety of recommendations. Some of them, like requiring that anyone convicted of drunken driving be required to install a breathalyzer interlock in their car, which would prevent the vehicle from starting without an alcohol test, were focused on heavy drinkers and repeat offenders.

Officials said they hoped that a stricter standard would reduce drinking and driving both among social drinkers and among heavy drinkers.

Blood-alcohol concentration varies by body weight, gender, stomach contents and other factors, but generally speaking, a 180-pound man could consume four beers or glasses of wine in 90 minutes without reaching the current limit. At a limit of 0.05 percent, he could legally consume only three. A 130-pound woman could probably consume three drinks in 90 minutes and still be legal under the existing standard; if the limit were lowered, she could consume only two.

The blood-alcohol recommendation faces opposition. Sarah Longwell, the managing director at the American Beverage Institute, a restaurant trade association, called the idea “ludicrous.”

“Moving from .08 to .05 would criminalize perfectly responsible behavior,” she said. And “further restriction of moderate consumption of alcohol by responsible adults prior to driving does nothing to stop hard-core drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel,” she said.

The board is already on record favoring research on built-in alcohol detectors, which could measure blood-alcohol content through a driver’s palms on the steering wheel or some other unobtrusive way. Those could be available as an option on new cars or could be universally required. Either would affect drinkers who have never been caught driving, who make up more than 90 percent of those involved in fatal alcohol-related crashes.

People with a blood-alcohol level of 0.05 percent are 38 percent more likely to be involved in a crash than those who have not been drinking, according to government statistics. People with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 percent are 169 percent more likely.

The standard in most of the industrialized world is 0.05 percent. All 50 states and the District of Columbia switched to 0.08 percent after President Bill Clinton signed a law in 2000 that withheld highway construction money from states that did not agree to that standard.

At this point, of course, this is only a reccomendation. In order for this to become law, the legislatures of all 50 states and the District of Columbia would have to change their laws, as would Congress for those areas of highway, such as National Parks and military bases, that are under Federal jurisdiction. The odds of that happening any time soon seem fairly low, especially since the campaign against intoxicated driving that has been going on sine the 1980s has been incredibly successful and the general number of deaths from drunk driving has declined over the period. Additionally, we are now in an era where drunk driving is viewed almost universally as a serious offense and, indeed, where it can have serious consequences on someone who is convicted in ways ranging from a temporary loss of license to increased insurance rates for just a first offence.This is a marked difference from forty years ago when DUI laws and punishments were almost universally lenient until groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving came along and started lobbying state legislatures to tighten up the law. Because of their success, though, it seems apparent that there might not be the same sense of urgency that there was 40 years ago. Indeed as Connor Simpson states, there isn’t necessary a lot of agreement with the NTSB’s recommendations:

[T]he recommendation to lower the legal limit isn’t even receiving overwhelming support from those who typically campaign against drunk driving. “We don’t expect any state to go to .05,” said Jonathan Adkins, a (very realistic) Governors Highway Safety Association spokesman. “This recommendation is ludicrous,” said Sarah Longwell, the (bottom line-focused) managing director of the American Beverage Institute. Even Mothers Against Drunk Driving — the lobbying group that won a string of victories in getting the national BAC levels in every state down from around 0.15 to 0.08 in the first place — isn’t crazy about the new idea. They “would not oppose” the change, as the Times puts it, but ultimately the group supports other potential changes. This is the board “trying to focus on a group of people who are more social drinkers, who haven’t been targeted in a while,” said MADD rep J.T. Griffin, clearly seeking more widespread efforts on drunk driving.

There is another factor to consider here when evaluating something like the nearly 40% reduction in the acceptable BAC limit that’s being proposed here, and that’s  whether it might be unfair to people who are generally not malevolent. As I noted above, a DUI conviction now carries with it serious legal consequences, and there’s every reason to believe that this will continue to be the case if the BAC limit is lowered to .05. Indeed, some of the other recommendations that are being made would actually increase the penalties for even a first offense DUI, including things such as requiring everyone convicted of a DUI to have an ignition interlock device installed in their car that would require them to pass a breathalyzer test in order to start the vehicle. Do we really want to subject a whole new group of people to these penalties? I’m not here to defend drunk driving, but it strikes me that it might be better to focus our efforts on the heavy drinkers and repeat offenders that are the real danger on the road rather than diverting police resources toward drivers who may be a little buzzed but aren’t really very impaired.

FILED UNDER: General
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Peter says:

    we are now in an era where drunk driving is viewed almost universally as a serious offense and, indeed, where it can have serious consequences on someone who is convicted in ways ranging from a temporary loss of license to increased insurance rates for just a first offence

    People whose licenses are suspended for DUI seldom if ever stop driving. They just keep on driving under suspension, hoping they won’t get caught.

  2. Electroman says:

    There’s at least one state that has had .05 for quite a while now – Colorado. I’m not sure what effect it’s had, but there’s data there, waiting to be analyzed.

  3. @Peter:

    People whose licenses are suspended for DUI seldom if ever stop driving. They just keep on driving under suspension, hoping they won’t get caught.

    Well I’m not sure that’s universally true but I’m sure it’s quite common

  4. @Electroman:

    Actually, Colorado’s law is a little more complicated than that: {Source}

    Blood tests and breath tests play a prominent role in the enforcement of drunk driving laws, although DUI or DWAI can be proved by other means. If at the time of the commission of .an alleged offense, or within a reasonable time thereafter, a defendant’s BAC exceeds 0.05 but is less than 0.08, there is a permissible inference that the defendant’s ability to operate a vehicle was impaired by the consumption of alcohol. If at such time the defendant’s BAC is 0.08 or more, there is a permissible inference that the defendant was under the influence of alcohol.

    If your BAC is .05 or higher,but lower than .08 than you’re presumed to be driving while impaired. If it’s .08 or above, you’re presumed to be driving while under the influence of alcohol. The penalties for drving while impaired are less serve than DUI

  5. a 180-pound man could consume four beers or glasses of wine in 90 minutes without reaching the current limit. At a limit of 0.05 percent, he could legally consume only three.

    I must confess, the notion that people who drink 4 beers in 90 minutes can then legally drive does strike me as a tad much, yes? Indeed, I largely operated under the assumption that such a level of consumption would already have constituted drunken driving, but I suppose I tend to be rather conservative on this matter.

  6. michael reynolds says:

    I limit myself to two drinks which, at my current weight, gives me a .03. Does a third drink impair me? Yes, to a very small degree, but one I find unacceptable for myself.

    Of course age can impair people, as can prescription drugs, emotional state, passengers in the car, loud music. . .

    I don’t know where to draw the legal line, but there’s no way in hell I’d drive with the 4-5 drinks required to get me to .08. That’s not even a close call at that point.

  7. Anderson says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: The definition of “a glass” tends to be smaller than what people have grown accustomed to these days, IIRC.

    For liquor, one “drink” is defined as 1 oz., whereas any bartender who poured me less than a shot (1.5 oz.) would jeopardize his tip.

  8. @Steven L. Taylor:

    Yea it does seem like a bit much but, of course, if those drinks are consumed with a meal then the body’s absorption of the alcohol would be slowed down.

  9. @michael reynolds:

    Yea I’m typically only a “two drinks when I’m out” kind of person too, unless someone else is doing the driving and I know I can trust them not to drive impaired.

  10. @michael reynolds:

    but there’s no way in hell I’d drive with the 4-5 drinks required to get me to .08. That’s not even a close call at that point

    Exactly.

    @Anderson:

    The definition of “a glass” tends to be smaller than what people have grown accustomed to these days, IIRC.

    There is that as well. Of course, and with the beer it would depend on type.

    @Doug Mataconis: Sure, food matters. And I haven’t weighed 180 lbs since probably college. There are numerous variables at play.

  11. anjin-san says:

    any bartender who poured me less than a shot (1.5 oz.) would jeopardize his tip.

    In the era of $10 martinis, someone who is drinking in a good bar is getting a very healthy shot in a mixed drink. Also, the alcohol content of California wines has shot up dramatically in the last 20 years.

    I have no sympathy for drunk drivers. Go out with a designated driver, or take a cab.

  12. grumpy realist says:

    Mmphk. If they’re really interested in getting dangerous drivers off the road I’d suggest they go after the idiots who text and drive.

  13. PJ says:

    People with a blood-alcohol level of 0.05 percent are 38 percent more likely to be involved in a crash than those who have not been drinking, according to government statistics. People with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 percent are 169 percent more likely.

    1. How much more likely is it for someone driving with, for example, a 0.06, 0.07, or 0.075 percent blood alcohol-level to be involved in a crash?

    2. How many are driving with an blood alcohol level between 0.05 and 0.08? How many are driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 and above? How many of those who are driving with an blood alcohol level between 0.05 and 0.08 would stop doing that if it was against the law?

    Point being that cutting the limit to 0.05 may save more lives.

  14. john personna says:

    re. the evolution of “drinks.”

    I was at a local Italian place and asked if they had a dark Italian beer. They did. It was good. When I started to feel a little funny I looked at the label, and it as 8.5% alc. Yikes.

    I don’t weigh enough for these new beers.

  15. john personna says:

    (The Colorado rules sound fine to me. And yes this is a place where driverless dream cars would save lives.)

  16. mantis says:

    it strikes me that it might be better to focus our efforts on the heavy drinkers and repeat offenders that are the real danger on the road

    Quoted earlier:

    Either would affect drinkers who have never been caught driving, who make up more than 90 percent of those involved in fatal alcohol-related crashes.

    Repeat offenders are not “the real danger,” and are in fact a very small part of it.

  17. matt bernius says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    Someone who tried to explain away his DWI in the following fashion:

    Him: I had been out and had a pitcher. I knew that once it hit me I couldn’t drive. So *before* I got drunk, I made the decision to drive home. Unfortunately, that $#@@%@ Cop pulled me over. Since he didn’t have the equipment to administer the Breathalyzer in the field, he arrested me and took me back to the station. By the time I got there and waited for the hour, the alcohol had fully entered my bloodstream and I blew a 1.X [or something like that].

    Me: You realize that it’s a *breathalyzer* not a *bloodalizer.”

    Him: [Silence]

  18. Franklin says:

    At maybe 155 or 160 pounds, I can easily feel the effects of one good beer (say a doppelbock). I honestly wouldn’t drive if I had two in quick succession.

    That said, I’d still be better than 90% of the sober drivers out there.

  19. Electroman says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Yes, that’s certainly true. As I pointed out, their legal limit is .05. I’m not sure what’s complicated about that – we agree that the allowable BAC in Colorado is .05, not .08. Right?

  20. You also metabolize alcholo over the course of the meal. Maybe I’m weird, but when I go to a nice restaurant, the meal is usally at least two hours, so if I have three drinks over the course of the meal, I’m probably back down to one by the time I leave.

  21. Robert C says:

    @john personna:

    Off topic a little…but I completely agree..I enjoy a good IPA, but more and more of the microbrew IPAs are pushing 7-9% alcohol…two and I am done!

  22. Eric J. says:

    I’m pretty sure that .05 is at the edge of most breathalyzer’s accuracy, meaning that you could potentially be charged without having had anything to drink.

  23. michael reynolds says:

    @john personna:
    Much the same with an Amarone the first time. Stood up after two glasses to head to the men’s and had an ‘uh oh’ moment. All wines are not equal.

  24. Davebo says:

    @Eric J.:

    Your’e absolutely right. A diabetic with either low or high blood sugar levels could easily blow a .05 without drinking anything.

    Remember when the standard was .10 to be legally drunk.

    But hey, it’s a huge money maker for the local government as well as a no lose situation politically so this juggernaut will probably be implemented.

  25. matt says:

    @Eric J.: Indeed and that’s the elephant in the room that no one has noticed yet. Breathalyzers can be remarkably inaccurate even under the best of circumstances (properly adjusted and administered) due to design limitations.

    We were messing around with one of the units when we discovered that if you blew within 10 or so minutes of using Listerine that you would be over the limit.

    Certain foods will also put you over the limit if consumed within 20 or so minutes of the breathalyzer.

  26. Tyrell says:

    I did not see it mentioned, but how about other things that could impair driving, such as marijuana cigarettes and prescription medications?

  27. john personna says:

    @Tyrell:

    The cops do try for those, as they should, but alcohol is a relatively simple chemical test. You know, as opposed to 101 drugs that might be involved.

  28. matt says:

    @Tyrell: Sleep deprivation probably being the worst among those as it’s tough to detect and deadlier then being drunk.

  29. Andy says:

    I grew up in Colorado at a time when the drinking age, for beer at least, was 18. I think the DWAI is a decent compromise, but I would probably adjust the penalties to reduce the long-term consequences of a DWAI. I don’t think it would be right to make DWI .05 because at that level many people won’t know they are over the line because they would, at most, have a light buzz..Almost no one knows how their “buzz” level corresponds to BAC. I know I sure didn’t when I got pulled over in college (in Colorado) and blew a .045. I thought I was completely fine and that the cop was just being a dickhead, but it turns out I was lucky because I was close. That experience allowed me to calibrate my drinking so that I could drive legally.

  30. michael reynolds says:

    @matt:

    Very true. I have been close to death driving sleepy.

  31. bill says:

    @john personna: i found out (the hard way) when i drank 2 “fin du monde’s” at happy hour- 9% “beer”.

  32. Me Me Me says:

    Isn’t it interesting that one can have a data-driven discussion about an public safety/personal responsibility issue without anyone shouting “FREEDOM”?

  33. matt says:

    @michael reynolds: Should of put “just as deadly as being drunk” now “deadlier”… Got a little carried away there…

    @Me Me Me: Hey man I’m just warming up…

  34. Ha Nguyen says:

    @Me Me Me:

    Wait until this starts hitting In-Bev’s and other alcholic beverage makers’ bottom line. Then they’ll give their marching orders to their corporate media minions. That’s when you’ll start hearing FREEDOM! Actually, since MADD and other nominally anti-drunk driving groups are being rather mum on this, I wonder if they’ve already gotten calls.

  35. matt says:

    @Ha Nguyen: MADD is pretty nuts. I know people who have joined MADD after losing a loved one to a drunk driver. Every single one of them left the organization because of it’s nutty policies..

  36. kelsonus says:

    The nanny state creeps along

  37. Tony W says:

    I think this concept speaks to a larger issue – the ongoing attempt to completely eliminate danger from our lives.

    Our children wear bike helmets at 2 MPH across the grassy park. Window blinds have warning labels and crappy plastic safety devices that break under the weight of the blind – to avoid strangling a child. Warning labels are everywhere and playground swings are nowhere. Cars routinely sport $3500 worth of airbags and other safety equipment, when a generation ago we weren’t even using seatbelts regularly.

    I am sure my observations are heavily colored with survivorship bias, but I think it is reasonable to accept a level of danger that balances safety with a life well lived.

    I appreciate that we have an industry making money off of beer, liquor and wine sales who will lobby hard against the idea – but that is the right outcome for the wrong reasons. It strikes me as far out of balance to think that I can’t even have a couple of beers at the local watering hole without risking financial & career ruination.

    We are becoming a nation of wimps.

  38. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Me Me Me:

    Isn’t it interesting that one can have a data-driven discussion about an public safety/personal responsibility issue without anyone shouting “FREEDOM”?

    Isn’t it interesting you can get 2 down votes for saying that?

    And right on cue comes @kelsonus:

    Hey idiot: Just exactly what do you do when you come upon a drunk driving the wrong way headed right for you? I’ll answer the question for you: You die.

  39. Tony W says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: If I remember right, this issue is pretty personal for you – and I get it, and don’t mean to sound insensitive. I’m just concerned that if .05% is good, then perhaps .01% is better. Or 0%. The discussion needs to be around finding the right balance of a good life with a reasonable (and only a reasonable) level of safety.

  40. C. Clavin says:

    Funny that Doug the Libertarian is all for this nanny state crap.
    Nothing like having principles.

  41. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Tony W:

    Our children wear bike helmets at 2 MPH across the grassy park. (snip) We are becoming a nation of wimps.

    As one who held his 5 yr old son’s hand while he lay on a blood spattered gurney in a hospital ER after he got run over by a car, praying for God (or Dog or FSM) to take me and let my son live, then looking at my ex on the other side of the gurney and thinking, “NO! Take HER! She was supposed to be watching him!” let me respond with a hearty “You really are quite clueless, aren’t you?”*** My point being that things happen, and when they do, they come from the unexpected direction and the decisions with unexpected consequences.

    playground swings are nowhere.

    Where in Dog’s name do you live?

    Cars routinely sport $3500 worth of airbags and other safety equipment, when a generation ago we weren’t even using seatbelts regularly.

    YEAH! And what’s with putting small children in car seats???? When I was a kid we would climb all over the car while mom or dad were driving it and none of us got killed!

    It strikes me as far out of balance to think that I can’t even have a couple of beers at the local watering hole without risking financial & career ruination needlessly risking the lives of others.

    FTFY. I will send you a bill in the mail.

    Here’s a clue, the next time you are at the local watering hole? Walk. It’s local fer christ’s sake.

    For the record, CO’s solution strikes me as the best.

    *** I actually had a slightly more colorful response in mind but decided I would be nice.

  42. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Tony W: Damn Tony… There you go again being nice before I even get a chance to be mean to you! No fair!!! You made me look small!!!

    I gotta laugh at myself sometimes. And yes, it is about the proper balance, which is what I think CO has hit.

  43. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Tony W:

    If I remember right, this issue is pretty personal for you –

    And Yeah, you do remember right. I didn’t bring up Bob because he got killed when DUI’s were at .015 and the guy was so loaded after the accident he was walking around on two broken legs. Didn’t seem pertinent to this discussion.

  44. grumpy realist says:

    @matt: MADD is sort of like the radical feminist groups (yah, I’m a woman and a feminist, so I can say things like that) in as much they were started in order to solve a very obvious problem. As time went on and restrictions were put in (careers opened up to women), the moderates drifted away, so you’re left with the real hardcore. I read somewhere that there are some people in MADD arguing about bringing back Prohibition. (Yeah, that worked out so well the first time.)

    I’d worry less about getting 0.05 drivers off the road and more about getting texting/phoning/sleepy people off the road.

    It’s just too easy for the cops to have someone blow into a breathalyzer, however.

  45. Trumwill says:

    I would gladly trade lowering the legal BAC to .05 in exchange for a legal distinction between driving while intoxicated and driving while wasted, with the latter starting at the old .1 range, or .12.

  46. Tony W says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Hey man, this stuff IS personal – and even if the likelihood of something happening to an individual is quite small, when it does happen then the anecdote takes precedence over the statistics.

    Policy, however, needs to look at the big picture. For the record I am not saying .08% (or .05%) is the right number – just that we need to assure the right level of complication and tension into the debate. It’s too easy to just say “remove all risk”.

  47. C. Clavin says:

    Funny we can’t get common sense regulation on guns and ammo…
    But we can regulate social drinking out of existence. .05BAC? 2 or 3 Budweisers at Happy Hour and you are looking at a DUI.
    Meanwhile this:
    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/drunk-phila-wife-kills-husband-gun-lesson-article-1.1330321?localLinksEnabled=false

  48. C. Clavin says:

    10,000 DUI fatalities a year?
    There were 52,447 deliberate and 23,237 accidental non-fatal gunshot injuries in the United States during the year 2000.
    I don’t want to get rid of guns.
    But if we are looking to save lives my Corner Pub at Happy Hour is not the place to be looking.

  49. James Joyner says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: @michael reynolds: I can’t imagine chugging four beers and then heading on the road. I have been known to have two large margaritas with a meal and then drive home. Now, I go a little over 200 pounds and I’m having a large meal, probably lasting more than an hour. And the drive home is like 1.5 miles at a top rate of speed maybe 30 mph. Further, on the rare occasions that I “feel” the alcohol, I’ll take a diversionary walk over to a nearby shop to kill 20 minutes before getting on the road.

    @Tony W: I’m pretty libertarian on what risks adults take upon themselves. But this isn’t about drunks killing themselves, it’s about the risks to others. 0.05 doesn’t strike me as draconian, especially if we have strong evidence that the difference between 0.05 and 0.08 is just tremendous in terms of lowering risks.

    I suppose there’s a gender discrimination argument to be made here. That is, a 120-pound woman is going to get to 0.05 much easier than I am. But I’m not sure there’s a “fairness” argument that trumps the fact that a woman who’s had two glasses of wine is more dangerous than I am with three.

  50. Alanmt says:

    .08 strikes the right balance already, in my opinion. The level of impairment below that correlates to other deliberate conduct which affects driving that results in either careless or reckless driving charges, which have substantially lower penalties than driving under the influence.

  51. grumpy realist says:

    @James Joyner: The question is–is this where we want to be putting our efforts? During the day, I’d be much more worried about getting crashed into by some dumb teen who couldn’t stop texting.

  52. Matt says:

    @grumpy realist: Yes there was a strong pro-prohibition vibe going on with MADD.

    Definitely reminds me of the feminist extremists at this point. Pretty spot on with your statements.

  53. grumpy realist says:

    @Matt: It was when the radical feminists started to claim that physics was a masculine conspiracy that I knew they were a few sandwiches short of a picnic basket.

    Funny how if you get into the deep weeds of the radical feminists they start sounding like the craziest misogynists. Just another example of Extremes Meet.

  54. Tony W says:

    @James Joyner:

    0.05 doesn’t strike me as draconian, especially if we have strong evidence that the difference between 0.05 and 0.08 is just tremendous in terms of lowering risks.

    I absolutely agree, but I have not seen any evidence this is the case – perhaps the board has. There is a vague reference to other countries so maybe a culturally comparable country to the United States has some experience that we can leverage here.

    My comments about balancing risk are mostly in response to quotes like this:

    “There are at least 10,000 reasons to tackle this issue,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, the chairwoman of the board.

    For the sake of this discussion, let’s stipulate that a move like this would get the number down to 5,000 deaths. Or 1000. Or 50.

    Given the huge societal backlash against drunk driving (versus the laugh-it-off attitude I witnessed growing up in the 70s with my own alcoholic father), and what I feel is a good level of voluntary compliance with the laws as written today, I’m just not persuaded that number of deaths in a country of over 300 million people is statistically significant enough to justify the potential conviction and general ruining of somebody’s life because a 170 pound man had two beers and blew a .06% driving home from the local brewpub. A drunk-driving conviction is a HUGE thing in today’s America – often with mandatory jail time and large fines.

  55. matt says:

    @grumpy realist: Yeah my now ex fiancee used to have a major beef against feminists because the only ones she knew were the nutjobs.

    It’s interesting how the radical feminists are just preaching a different kind of sexism..

    I still think sobriety check points are unconstitutional..

  56. Pharoah Narim says:

    Gotta keep those for-profit prisons filled and the court dockets bursting at the seams. Why beat around the bush–lets just make the BAC .001 and put the speed limit down to 13 mph everywhere–KA-CHING!

  57. bill says:

    @Tyrell: benedryl is way worse than booze, for me at least.

  58. matt says:

    @bill: Nightquil will mess me up for a couple days.

  59. J-Dub says:

    It’s not fair that fat people get to drink more.

  60. grumpy realist says:

    @matt: sobriety check points considered constitutional on public roads as long as no obvious bias when picking candidates to test. We’ve been through that already….

    Would you be willing to replace sobriety tests with a breathalyzer being mandated equipment on every car? And if one is unconstitutional, why not the other?

    (Yet another reason to push for driverless cars–we can get as plastered as we wish!)

  61. Matt says:

    @grumpy realist: Nope that’s an even worse option… I see both as unconstitutional.

    I accidentally down-voted you when I meant to up-vote for your last comment.

  62. grumpy realist says:

    @Matt: Not griping at you in particular, but I do wish people wouldn’t use the term “unconstitutional!” like it’s holy water able to ward off a vampire….

    Basically, stuff is unconstitutional when there’s a court decision saying that something is unconstitutional. It’s constitutional when the court says it’s constitutional. For all the bitching about certain Supreme Court decisions, the fact is that until SCOTUS reverses itself on the matter, those acts are constitutional/unconstitutional. There’s not some Platonic Ideal of Constitutionality out there that means something is “unconstitutional” even in spite of a SCOTUS decision saying it’s constitutional.

    In short, the U.S. Constitution is not the Bible and there’s no Constitutional Ideal that we regularly fall short of.

    I wish Americans would understand this better.

  63. @grumpy realist: Amen and amen.

  64. Nicholas says:

    I can have 4-5 drinks and be more prepared to drive than a totally sober 70 year old at the top of his game. This is more police state nonsense. It is a revenue generator and it is intrusive the former is the only reason states do it. No one is even close to drunk at .05. If you have a cold and are driving you’re more impaired than a grown man at .05.

    Stop accepting check points, pat downs, and unusual searches, pretty soon they’ll be asking us for papers, lemmings.

  65. Nicholas says:

    And I disagree, the constitution is pretty clear, it takes activist judges with political agendas to make it complicated or to allow things that clearly aren’t constitutional. We fall short because our system is corrupt and our citizens have become apathetic sheeplings.

  66. Nicholas says:

    @Pharoah Narim:

    Exactly right.

  67. grumpy realist says:

    @Nicholas: It is easy to see that you are not a lawyer. Nor have you taken a course in Constitutional Law. Nor have you taken a class on Legislative Interpretation.

    Your “clearly non-constitutional” is another man’s “clearly constitutional.” Or “needs more interpretation in light of recent developments in technology.”

    Where do you get this idea of “constitutionality” separate from court decisions? THERE ISN’T ANY.

    (pounds head into wall.)

  68. grumpy realist says:

    (Doug, would you be interested in me writing a rant about “constitutionality” vs. “non-constitutionality” along the lines of my statement above? Perusal for submission for publication on OTB? This is really starting to piss me off.)

  69. Nicholas says:

    @grumpy realist:

    I am not a lawyer and I thank God for that every day. There are honest ways to make a good living. The constitution is very clear. Judges don’t interpret it in a vacuum as they should, instead they apply their ideology to it and how to twist it so that the agenda they agree with can be enforced. This is why things can be allowed that shouldn’t be even though the constitution and the intent of its authors are simple and well documented. In short, the judicial system in this country is politically compromised, the legal code affected pay for profit prisons and law enforcement employee unions etc. That is how things can be unconstitutional or constitutional regardless of what one court or another says. I understand that in terms of empirical data that is irrelevant but that doesn’t weaken my argument.

    The patriot act and the ndaa violates the constitution on several levels but ideologically driven jduges allowed it anyways. The executive branch has decided it can kill US citizens within our borders via drone, there is some due process for ya!! I am pretty sure, from having read a good bit of things Jefferson and Franklin wrote, that imminent domain would have them rolling in their graves and that they intended for that sort of thing to be forbidden the federal government.

    Good day sir

  70. @Nicholas:

    The constitution is very clear

    Ok, “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech”

    That’s pretty straightforward.

    Does it that mean that Congress can pass no laws regarding slander?

    Does it mean that the Coca Cola company can claim that Sprite cures AIDS?

    Does it mean that I can incite a riot?