Yes, you read that right; I believe that drink-driving should be legalised. Before you tar and feather me, allow me to say that I think that drink-driving is stupid, dangerous, and inconsiderate of others. However, drink-driving laws do carry some problems of logic.
First problem: what is the definition of ‘drunk’? What blood alcohol level makes someone unfit to drive? Physiologically this varies widely, but the government picks an arbitrary blood alcohol number and applies this to everyone. The only blood alcohol level that is guaranteed to be safe is zero: any other number is a subjective construct.
Second problem: a person driving drunk has the potential to cause harm to others; only when he crashes has he caused actual harm. If you make drink driving illegal because it has the potential to cause harm, then logically you also have to make illegal other activities that carry the potential for harm to others, e.g. driving a car (even sober drivers harm others), flying a plane, building a bridge, etc.; society would be crippled. Making certain activities illegal because they carry the potential for harm to others is simply the State deciding which risky activities are acceptable and which are not, i.e. it is the nanny state in action.
Third problem: if the State is going to prosecute drink-drivers because they may cause harm to others, then the entire population should be in prison, because everyone may commit murder, grievous bodily harm, arson, and other crimes against person and property. It is contrary to natural justice to prosecute someone because they may harm others.
Now, please try to put aside State indoctrination delivered via the media regarding the evils of drink-driving and consider the following proposal.
My proposal is thus: make drink-driving legal, but make the penalties for actual harm caused by drink-driving very steep. For damaging someone’s property, the drink driver should pay the full cost of restoring that property, along with some punitive payments. For killing someone, the minimum penalty should be life in prison with hard labour (‘life’ means ‘they carry you out in a box’). Whilst in prison they should be earning money and sending that money to the parties affected by their stupidity, otherwise the offender is getting free board whilst the affected parties get nothing. Since the offender has chosen to drink and drive, knowing that he may well kill someone, a case for the death penalty could be made.
I also believe that there should be no second chances as the present laws provide: if you commit murder the judge doesn’t say “pay a $500 fine and don’t do it again”.
The current system clearly is a poor deterrent*: my alcoholic neighbour would regularly come arrive home and exit the vehicle with an open bottle of beer; on a couple of occasions I observed him exiting the vehicle whilst drunk to the point of staggering. Perhaps some heavy penalties such as those that I propose would deter him. There will always be some people who will only consider the pleasure of the moment and fail to consider the consequences of that pleasure, but under my proposal they would have plenty of time on the chain gang to contemplate the consequences of their actions (doing their hard labour on a chain gang will also be a visible deterrent to others).
There is a hard core of recidivist drink-drivers and under my proposal they would soon be off the streets, so doing things this way may well reduce fatalities caused by drunks. Any new drink-drivers would soon follow them.
The present system is all about the State saying “You may only drink and drive if we consider that the risk you pose to others is an acceptable risk”.
My system is all about personal responsibility: you can choose to get a taxi home after a night out, or you can choose to drive drunk. If you choose to drink and drive you choose to take the risk of killing someone, and you choose to take the risk of experiencing the consequences of your choice for the rest of your life.
What do you think about this proposal?
* click here to see an example of the pitiful penalties for drink driving. This drunk causes permanent injury and he’s going to get home detention. What does home detention mean? Pizza, beer, sex, DVDs, and all the other comforts of home.
♦ The police use the current laws as an excuse to breach civil liberties: see my post here
♦ what I have proposed here is not the ideal for a classical liberalist, rather it is an idea that can work in the statist system that we are stuck with