Welcome Back, Again, Dear Reader.
Something on my mind, you knew this already I bet.
In today's news, I read something that makes me take pause, on the surface, it may seem like the idea is a good one, but we should all pay attention to the details.
Allow me to set this up for you.
'RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - The Virginia Chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) wants to put the brakes on drunk driving here in the Commonwealth. A bill in the General Assembly this session would get them on the road to achieving that goal.....MADD says on average a person will drive more than 80 times before they are eventually caught. Now a bill is up for consideration to help cut back on convicted drunk drivers from re-offending....Friday on the Capitol grounds outside the Virginia Travel Information Center, a group gathered hoping lawmakers would help make travel safer for all Virginians by passing an ignition interlock bill. If passed, first time convicted drunk drivers would have a device added to their vehicle. The mechanism works like a breathalyzer. You blow into the instrument and if you pass you are able to drive the vehicle. But, if you’ve been drinking then you’ll be forced to stay off the roads.....The bill is now headed to the Senate floor for consideration.'
Now, at first glance this seems like a great idea, doesn't it? I mean, put this tool on their car, stop them from driving drunk. Just remove their ability to drive, terrific, I love it!
Hmm... I wonder.
First, it should be noted that in Virginia, a judge does already have the power to require this ignition inhibitor be installed on a vehicle for a repeat offender, and even in some cases first time offenders, in his judgement. That's what they do you know, make decision on the best course of action within the law.
Sounds rather redundant to make it a law that it be required, when there is already a process in place to make it so. Is it that we do not trust those people in power to excercise this duty effectively, so we must mandate it? If that is so, then put people in the positions who will do what's best, do not remove their ability to make decisions. I suppose, upon further reflection, perhaps this law could remove the need for a judge to make the decision, thereby saving us xxx millions of dollars in judge salaries. Somehow I do not think that will equate. Or better, perhaps we should lower their pay across the board, as this decision could be made for them. One less thing, right?
Let's look at this line of reasoning again. MAAD says that on average a drunk driver drives 80 times before they are caught the first time. Logic would then dictate, given our typical drunk driver isn't too smart to begin with, that if the drunk driver continues to drive, after their first arrest, it could possibly be double, or even triple that number before they are caught again. They are extra careful you see, the next time they do it.
Stopping their car from starting is not going to fix that. 'Here Sally, blow in this tube. No, silly, that one.' The consequences for driving your 'tube car' while intoxicated, cannot possibly be any worse than driving an untubed car. Seriously, what's the point?
So, you have the tubed car, and the untubed car. Which one are you going to drive on your date? Even drunk drivers know the answer to that one. Remember, they already drove over 80 times before they were caught the first time! They are extra careful to avoid the second, third, fourth offense.
We aren't finished yet, loyal fan, I trust you are still with me, it's about to get interesting, I promise.
I stop to ponder the deeper implications this requirement for ignition inhibitors represent. Let's say, for example, I am driving along in my tubed car, completely sober and come across a routine traffic stop. When the officer approaches my car, he glimpses the tube apparatus, and decides I should have a sobriety test. Does this open the door for profiling?
Because my car has a tube, does that send a signal to the world that I am a drunk driver? Can I take my boss to lunch in my car without some sideways glances? Will that hottie from the water cooler ever go out with me again? It's a real problem now, not just a minor issue.
Maybe it's my brother's car today, maybe my mom's, my father's? My sister in law? Hmmm.
Or let's look even closer. The officer stops me for not using my turn signal, recognises when running my license that I am required by law to have a tube in my car. Is the act of him checking my car for the tube, a violation of my civil rights for improper search and siezure? If the officer looks in my car to see if I have a tube, and notices something else, does that open the door for illegal search? There is no probable cause in just looking for the tube, and seeing something else.
I know, I know what you are thinking. Don't have anything you shouldn't have, and you won't have anything to worry about. I get that, trust me.
I am never going to have a tube car anyway, nor anything, (in plain sight), that would be a problem anyway. What I -am- trying to say here, with this subtle, seems like a really good idea to keep drunk drivers off the road law, is this.
This law passes? We give up another liberty to the institution. However small it may be, we should be very aware when this type of legislature is pressed forward. More especially when the power to invoke these rules is removed from the very people we have placed in power and trust to make these decisions for us.
We should never remove the 'man' from the equation, we should never allow the tail to wag the dog, and we should never let a rule, or law, remove our ability to reason, decide and act.
Today's it's a tube on your dash for fist time offenders... tomorrow it's a tube on everyone's car, and in twenty years, its a camera on your dash that doesn't point out at traffic, but within your car.