Drunk Driving is NOT a Crime
So how quickly did that title catch your eye? I sometimes enjoy throwing quick hits such as that out to truly get a glimpse into how ingrained our society is with government protection. Drinking and driving is no laughing matter, however. It is dangerous to the extent of immorality (in my opinion). When people drink and drive they put themselves and, more importantly, others at risk.
However, I believe the actual definition of the word ‘risk’ escapes us sometimes. Risk is not simply for the stock brokers and day traders. Human beings take risks every day. It is the necessary response to living in a world of uncertainty. You take risks just by getting out of bed in the morning. Yet, there are certain activities which seem to raise the risks of extreme casualty to unnecessary levels. It is up to the individual to decide when the level of risk is too extreme to continue with any particular task that is currently occupying his/her time. However, circumstances, understandably, change when we venture into the realm of one person’s risks causing particularly unnecessary risks to others.
Parachuting out of an airplane poses numerous risks to the one doing the jumping and very few risks to others. Drinking and driving, on the other hand, creates almost just as many risks for other people as it does for the inebriated individual. Some of these risks include the loss of a perfectly good car, a rise in insurance rates, injury, disfigurement, and, most importantly, death. These are, of course, the incentives not to drink and drive absent any governmental involvement. The purpose of adding any type of governmental law against the act of drinking and driving is to add even more incentives to not participate in such an activity. However, what punishment could the government provide worse than death? In his article Drunk-Driving Laws are Absurd , Mark Crovelli makes this argument:
“It all sounds so reasonable: because of their “impaired judgment,” drunk drivers discount the danger of dying or hurting other people, so the state must implement harsh laws that discourage drunk driving even more. The problem with this idea, however, is that the state’s penalties for drunk driving are extremely lenient when compared to what could possibly occur as a natural consequence of drunk driving – like, death, disfigurement or a lifetime in prison. As such, it is naïve at best to think that the state’s relatively mild form of punishment could possibly dissuade a man from driving drunk, when not even the risk of death was able to discourage him from doing so.”
Absent any government law against the action itself, drinking and driving still includes the risk of having the one you injured take you to court for your recklessness (or even life in prison if you were to actually kill the other person). We should also not forget that drinking is not the only activity that can cause reckless driving. In some instances, lack of sleep has been shown to be more detrimental to drivers than alcohol. You could also be angry, extremely upset, etc. While some of these things may not seem to create as much risk as drinking and driving, the point is that government involvement in any of these things would not necessarily be productive in lowering traffic accidents through creation of disincentives. The disincentives are already there. And if a person is not willing to hang up their keys after accepting death as a very high possibility, why should we assume that a fine or prison sentence will do anything to change his/her mind?
Our government spends billions each year enforcing laws that have not been proven to be any more effective than the actual consequences of the action itself. They have gone even further by creating safety belt laws. (If the risk of flying through the windshield is not enough to convince you to buckle up, is a small fine going to do the job?) It is time we start calling into question these illogical government programs. With approximately 1 million deaths every 25 years on our, already government controlled, roadways, should we really be giving them more power to police the streets?