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Sunday, July 23, 2006

Belittling drunk driving

Apparently, killing somebody while driving drunk is not a big deal to Minnesota courts, or so says the Pioneer Press. A year in prison, two years in the workhouse, probation...who cares if your idiotic actions directly caused the death of an innocent victim?

Our laws and our courts continue to downplay drunk driving. I have absolutely no tolerance for it. There is never a reason to drive drunk. Never. Your third drunk driving conviction should result in a mandatory one year prison sentence. Killing somebody while drunk should be ten years. As it stands now, you could get more jail time for possessing or selling drugs than for killing somebody while driving drunk. I really don't care if somebody is in possession of a bunch of pot. That is almost certainly not going to hurt me. Drunks on the roads? That will.


At 11:19 AM, July 23, 2006, Anonymous Mark Gisleson said...

Posted like a Republican: punishment doesn't deter the crime, it just makes the victims feel better (sometimes).

If you've lost a friend to drunk driving, you have my sympathy. Over the years I've buried at least seven friends and classmates to drunk driving, some because they were drunk, some because the other guy was drunk. Jail wouldn't have helped in any of those cases.

Some people shouldn't be allowed to drive. Does that mean they should be imprisoned? Or should we find another solution that works with habitual offenders?

My life is rarely threatened by drunk drivers because I almost never drive at night. My brushes with death come about because of cell phones, people eating while they drive, etc. Poor and/or agressive drivers put my life at risk, but I've never thought they belong in prison even though they soberly choose to make bad choices. Each of them makes a choice to selfishly pursue a course of action that endangers others, but that doesn't make them felons, it just makes them human.

I'm not comfortable with the kind of judgmental anger used to justify incarcerating others. I'd bet money you've never been in jail. If you had, I don't think you'd be so quick to put others there.

Our society is barely holding together. People have never been so stressed and as a result, stuff happens, drunk driving included. Want to stop drunk driving? Fix our economy and most of it will vanish along with our collective ulcers, migraines and anxiety attacks.

Putting drunks in jail doesn't fix any of that.

At 12:07 PM, July 23, 2006, Blogger MN Politics Guru said...

I support throwing drunks who kill people in prison not because it makes the victims feel better, but because these people are a threat to society and have already killed!

If you get drunk drivers off the streets, then they can't be on the streets driving drunk and hurting people. That's pretty simple.

You never drive at night: good for you. I do. So do lots of people. And yes, other things distract drivers too, and I would certainly support laws banning the use of cell phones while driving or eating while driving. But watching football instead of spending time with your family is a selfish choice: getting drunk and killing somebody is in a far different class.

I also think that saying that improving the economy will reduce drunk driving is out of left field. I went to a bar last night as I often do, and nobody who was there drinking was doing so because of a bad economy. If people had more money, then many would probably spend even more on alcohol. The 18 year old who got drunk and killed somebody wasn't doing it because of the bad economy. People who go to Drinking Liberally aren't drinking because of the bad economy, are they?

Putting drunks in jail means they are off the streets and unable to kill anybody else. Our criminal justice system punishes ridiculous crimes that don't seriously hurt anybody (possession of marijuana) while letting things like killing somebody while drunk slide. It's ridiculous.

At 6:06 PM, July 23, 2006, Anonymous Mark Gisleson said...

And I would suggest that, like pot, anything done by millions of Americans isn't a crime—at worst it's a social problem.

Again, putting people in prison doesn't solve society's ills. People who drive while tired are almost as dangerous — how will you use prison to solve that? I remember watching a semi drift across the middle lane on i-94 once, hitting a car and forcing it off the road. The guy fell asleep at the wheel.

Lots of things that aren't crimes kill people. Sleepy drivers are estimated to be the second biggest killer on our roadways. How you test for that?

Putting people in prison is a Republican solution. I like to think there's always a better solution that better meets society's needs.

At 7:37 PM, July 23, 2006, Blogger MN Politics Guru said...

I guess we will just have to disagree with this one. Smoking pot in your own home doesn't hurt anybody. Driving drunk can and does.

Yes, driving while sleepy is a problem too. Just because you can't test for it, though, doesn't mean that it is okay. If you are sleepy and you drive, and drive recklessly, you should be charged with a crime. If you drive while sleepy and kill somebody, you should be charged with a more serious crime. It is up to juries to determine whether sleepiness was a factor in the accident; I expect that most people would not be found very culpable because of how hard it is to prove that you were sleepy while driving.

Millions of people driving drunk is not a social problem: it's a statistic that scares me senseless. I would like to know what goes on in people's minds when they decide that their own convenience is more important than the safety of everybody else on the road. I'm unfamiliar with that level of selfishness.


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