Bedford Ramblings
Steve Mills

New ideas for stopping repeated impaired drivers?

Posted Tuesday, December 15, 2015, at 10:54 AM
View 23 comments
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  • The drinker/druggy should ultimately be responsible for their own behavior.

    Placing the responsibility on someone else ( outside of a professional ) opens a large can of worms..... and could move what should be a secondary charge into a primary charge... taking the spotlight off of the important issue.

    I believe that after the FIRST offense the driver's car must be outfitted with a device that disables the car if they fail a breathalyzer test upon trying to start the car. Simple........

    I like simple.......

    -- Posted by Palindrome on Tue, Dec 15, 2015, at 12:44 PM
  • I like the idea of a disabling device, at their expense of course, but I am not sure what you mean by placing the responsibility on someone for giving them access to their vehicle as opening a large can of worms. Could you expound on that?

    That person who bought firearms for the terrorists in California should be (and may in fact be) held accountable in some fashion. Letting someone who has multiple impaired driving offenses is not much different.

    -- Posted by stevemills on Tue, Dec 15, 2015, at 2:26 PM
  • The can of worms is where to draw the line.......Speculation could go on forever. This is a case by case situation. I think the responsibility should stay with the guilty party. I wasn't aware that we were using the example of a person who had " multiple impaired driving offenses." It is always out moral duty to protect as much as possible but I still think that the sober professional ( bartender etc. ) is the one we should look to first for responsibility and guidance not fellow partygoers ......

    Terrorists in California ? The situations are not the same.Tell me how you think they are.

    -- Posted by Palindrome on Tue, Dec 15, 2015, at 2:57 PM
  • I lost a wife due to her driving intoxicated. I'm also a nationally certified DUI class instructor. I've been on both sides of the fence on this issue. I did notice in today's news, the story of a person with 16 DUI convictions getting a 17th arrest for DUI. This person should still be in prison, not driving on the roads. I honestly don't know that there is any single solution to this problem, however I do believe that if the first offense was made to be excruciatingly, painfully expensive, many would think twice before getting DUI number two. Maybe it's time to increase the mandatory jail time for the first offense?

    Make the second or any subsequent offense a felony, with a mandatory raise in the class of felony and prison time for any subsequent offense? I'm just offering suggestions here.

    It seems that a large part of the problem lies in one's attitude towards driving period. Quite a number of people believe that driving is a "right" that they are entitled to, rather than a privilege that must be earned.

    -- Posted by Tim Lokey on Tue, Dec 15, 2015, at 3:07 PM
  • Tim, my apologies for discussing such a sensitive issue. You referenced the exact issue that made me bring this up. SEVENTEEN TIMES?

    Maybe the courts should be held accountable as well?

    For those who can control their drinking, a severe penalty might make the difference. I have a relative who thought he was under control but got stopped in a routine traffic check.

    He was fined severely, lost his ability to drive for a period of time and would have lost it entirely if he had repeated the offense, BUT it mattered to him.

    This 17 time offender apparently does not care or can not control themselves so something else is needed.

    I believe everyone is supposed to be carded if they buy alcohol? Could there not be something put on the official verification they show to flag them as an alcoholic? DO NOT SELL, just like a juvenile?

    Yes, they should be responsible, but they apparently aren't.

    My comparison to the shootings in California are for those who enable others who are restricted from buying or having a dangerous weapon. A vehicle in the hands of an impaired driver is the same and while they may not intentionally get in the vehicle to kill someone, that is what could happen at any moment.

    The person who bought weapons for the couple in California had to know there was a reason why he was asked to do so. He chose to enable them and should be held accountable.

    Now I am not big on gun control, but I am not going to use my right to buy them to help someone else who cannot buy them. Nor am I going to give someone keys to my vehicle without knowing them and 16 DUI's should be something I would spot.

    If a vehicle is being sold, it is supposed to be to a licensed driver who has insurance. I would take a guess that the person in the article referenced had neither.

    So where did they get the vehicle? Where did they get the keys? Who enabled them and gets a 'stay out of jail' pass?

    In some states, parents are held accountable for what their children do. That is an existing precedence for someone else having to answer for the actions of those they enable.

    Yes, it should be on a case by case basis, but if there is no law giving the courts some clout, they'll have to let them slide, no matter what. Maybe that is not the case. I would like to know.

    Can it be abused by the courts? Sure, but courts that let someone free after 16 DUI's are not going to enforce much it appears.

    As said previously, just my opinion. :-)

    -- Posted by stevemills on Tue, Dec 15, 2015, at 4:03 PM
  • The local judicial system has trained the driver to repeat the offense because nothing significant happens to him when he breaks the law. This is where the problem lies. It is unbelievable how many people in this area are killed by repeat offenders.......Repeat offenders seem to be enabled by a system that is turning a blind eye to the situation. Nothing will change until the offender is held accountable. One can't take away his right to drink.........Only his ability to drive while intoxicated....Or his right to drive at all. It can be stopped.......Or at least reduced.........17 times......Really !

    The California situation I believe is another situation with other answers. I believe the particulars of the situation are very different.

    -- Posted by Palindrome on Tue, Dec 15, 2015, at 5:29 PM
  • It's pretty obvious that the 17th DUI didn't get the courts attention enough!...at that point we should put the courts in jail for endangering lives, but letting it get to 17...gheez! Apparently no one can tell yet this person can't help themselves, and probably the 38 rehabs they have pleaded too ain't either! This infuriates me! Whoever has been dealing with this person really needs a wake up call.

    Maybe we can fine the jail and the courts for letting them out knowing they were dangerous enough with drinking to possibly kill someone. Let them wreck out there with that many and someone might get rich off a local or state government for allowing it! Just saying! Yep, our tax dollars just-a working for our safety, ya reckon!

    If your driving drunk your insurance won't pay for anything and if you have it that bad you've spent all you have on drinking, fines and rehab.

    Giving someone a break for being stupid and allowing them enough room to change is one thing, being a fool and allowing them 17 dangerous mistakes at possibly others expense or life is wrong any way you look at it.

    2 DUI'S is 2 to many!

    -- Posted by chefgrape on Tue, Dec 15, 2015, at 10:44 PM
  • Tim, is prison the ONLY accountability that works for folks like this? I know individuals are just that, unique individuals, but what have you seen work?

    By the way, if anyone wants to comment anonymously, send me an e-mail. I promise to do my best to "scrub" your identity. :-)

    -- Posted by stevemills on Wed, Dec 16, 2015, at 8:53 AM
  • Agreed, California is vastly different. My only point was about others "enabling" people who do bad things and then saying, "Golly, I did not know they might do something like this. It's not MY fault that I helped them."

    As Chef Grape commented, maybe the court officials or (as I suggest) those who are close to the perpetrator?

    -- Posted by stevemills on Wed, Dec 16, 2015, at 8:58 AM
  • Steve I'm not convinced that prison time by itself works. It's just not enough of a deterrent for those who have a genuine drinking problem. Jail and/or prison time in conjunction with alcohol/drug treatment works far better than anything else I've seen.

    With regard to repeat offenders, national statistics indicate that a rather large percentage of alcohol related accidents that result in fatalities involve repeat offenders. NTSB statistics also show that by the time a person is charged with their first DUI, they have already driven while intoxicated an average of 412 times.

    Many people would say that the DUI laws are too tough, and I simply disagree with that assessment. As long as innocent people continue to fall victim to drunk drivers, the laws aren't tough enough.

    -- Posted by Tim Lokey on Wed, Dec 16, 2015, at 2:40 PM
  • I admit that I have had a drink and driven, so I suppose I can understand the 412 times if those times are counted.

    I can also clearly recall a time at a Steak 'n Ale in Hendersonville when I knew I had drunk too many and chose to sit in my car to wait it out. BUT was forced to drive by Metro Police who said I could not do that.

    I was sure it was a trap to get me to drive and then get arrested, but even more surprised when I found out it wasn't! They would rather have me out on the road in impaired condition than sit in their precious parking lot.

    I was in a jacket and tie, so I did not fit the description of someone living out of their car. Granted, I also did not tell them I had had too many, but instead said I was too tired to drive, but.....

    Anyway, back to the question I had for you Tim. What type of alcohol/drug treatment is given?

    -- Posted by stevemills on Wed, Dec 16, 2015, at 2:58 PM
  • What if every vehicle on the road was required by law to be equipped with the disabling device. I know this would be an inconvenience for the majority of people, and downright **** off some. But just imagine how many lives it would save. And it would free up jail space because of the elimination of DUI arrests. Just a thought

    -- Posted by Rocket Valentine on Thu, Dec 17, 2015, at 6:37 AM
  • Wow! Would I want the commissions on that sale!

    But seriously, it IS an idea and while probably expensive today, that volume would bring the cost down quickly. A pain, sure would be, but so were seat belts. (still are to some folks)

    Are there issues to overcome? Sure, like I don't want someone moving my car in the repair shop to wrap their lips around my breathalyzer, so maybe the breathalyzer concept needs to be changed.

    I received some information from a "knowing" person who wanted to share that "this type of matter happens more than you would believe; however, the hands of the Courts are tied in the way it has to be handled."

    "Punishment for DUI is set by the laws of our state (it is contained in T.C.A. 55-50-501)." I wonder if local authorities can add something to that or is that restricted? In that case, our State is one starting point but I SURE HATE TO GET POLITICIANS INTO IT!

    Again from the authoritative source, "...when a person is convicted the first time, they lose their license but this does not mean they cannot drive - it only means they cannot drive legally."

    So....., once they drive illegally, does that bring it under local jurisdiction, local controls, and local penalties? If so, what penalties will make the difference?

    Continued:"Before their license will be returned, they are required to have a device which measures blood alcohol installed on their vehicle that they must blow into in order for the car to start. This is a Tennessee State requirement."

    I did not know this was mandatory upon the first conviction, so.... the State is doing something, but as long as they can get access to someone else's vehicle....?

    BUT "Unfortunately, there is no such requirement if they do not apply to the State to get their license reinstated. They are free to get behind the wheel of any car and drive."

    So as long as they don't mind being illegal, (which apparently means nothing to them) they are off to kill or maim as fate dictates? Can WE the people of a county stop that freedom by law?

    "Also, there is no requirement that you must possess a driver's license or show proof of insurance to register a vehicle and get tags. Tennessee doesn't require it yet." YET! Maybe another attack point?

    -- Posted by stevemills on Thu, Dec 17, 2015, at 8:37 AM
  • Not being able to drive or go anywhere coups a body up from almost living, paying bills, getting food, etc. In today's society its almost a must to have transportation in some form...

    In North Carolina it's not required that you have a drivers license to drive a moped and they are allowed on the road, so those who have DUI's resort to what they call a "liquor cycle" to get around...you see them a lot up there! They don't go very far or fast and have to be the ones under a certain motor size. It has deterred vehicle fatalities they say. I've slowed down to go around a few up there!

    -- Posted by chefgrape on Thu, Dec 17, 2015, at 8:38 AM
  • Granted, not driving makes life tough and you have a good idea that allowing them an alternative method that would not endanger others could be a good answer.

    Being in a rural county and living out away from most conveniences (not complaining) makes me think that the device would have to have some speed but not enough mass to do a lot of damage to others.

    Pedestrians would still be in danger, but I have not heard anyone being hurt by a golf-cart or some of these electric cars. They probably need to be bright colored so they immediately make a statement that "I do not go fast in this thing".

    -- Posted by stevemills on Thu, Dec 17, 2015, at 9:17 AM
  • This may sound a little "far fetched" but here goes....

    There are many ingenious electronic "sniffing" devices that are used every day to sniff out explosives, gun powder residue, etc. There is even a narcotics sniffing device that can detect as little as one ounce of cocaine in a large body of water such as a swimming pool, by merely electronically sniffing the air for designated particles. The EPA even uses such devices to check smoke stacks for pollutants. Now every automobile in the country could be fitted with a device such as this to simply "sniff" the air for the presence of ethyl alcohol and disable the vehicle should it be present. It could be made tamper proof or one could be heavily penalized for doing so. I've thought about this often. Anyone with an intoximeter installed in their car can easily bypass the system by having a sober friend blow into the device. However an electronic particle scanner could be programmed to disable the vehicle if the presence of alcohol is detected anywhere within the vehicle.

    Too much science fiction? Maybe, but not impossible.

    As to the treatment question, for those assessed as having a true physical addiction to alcohol or drugs, countless research along with cumulative data studies repeatedly show that long term, intensive in-patient treatment (90-180 days)along with aftercare planning has by far had the best results. Twelve Step treatment modality has had more success than all other forms of treatment combined. It is guaranteed to work for anyone who is absolutely willing to go to any lengths to get sober and remain that way. However, it requires complete and thorough personal and spiritual change through hard work and self sacrifice.

    -- Posted by Tim Lokey on Thu, Dec 17, 2015, at 8:26 PM
  • From what I remember about your vocation and your personal experiences, I understand your thoughts for an all-encompassing solution.

    I see some modifications to account for someone being the "designated driver". With strategic placement of sensors, I am sure a computer could determine if the driver is emitting ethyl alcohol or the passengers.

    Two points I keyed in on with your comment about sober treatments, "a true physical addiction" and " anyone who is absolutely willing to go to any lengths to get sober and remain that way".

    Are there folks who use the program as a "crutch" and not really addicted alcoholics? How are the "other" folks who get drunk classified? I would guess some form of emotional glitch, a low tolerance to alcohol, or as many possibilities as there are people.

    On a side note, I saw where the person who bought the weapons used in California WAS arrested and held responsible, but also determined to be an actual co-conspirator.

    -- Posted by stevemills on Fri, Dec 18, 2015, at 7:00 AM
  • I think drinking is a moral issue and will be very difficult, if not impossible, to legislate effectively.

    It seems that there is a tendency to want to place the burden of an individuals lack of morals and good judgment on society as a whole. This is a tenant of collectivism/socialism. It only succeeds in spreading the misery by placing undue burdens on everyone else. These burdens may be in the form of sensors, breathalyzers, or trying to hold someone else responsible. None of these will be effective in preventing an immoral individual from gaining access to a vehicle and putting others lives at risk.

    The laws only just purpose is the prevention of the plunder of life, liberty, and possessions. Therefore increasing the plunder of society through any means that takes these elements from society due to the actions of the individual is unjust.

    That leaves then only the prevention of plunder of society by the individual. This can be carried out by incarceration, seizure and sell of vehicles and property to provide restitution to the victims and/or law enforcement.

    Obviously, there is a failure in law enforcement when someone repeats an offense 17 times. Therefore,there should be punishment to the members of the court who have failed to do their duty to remove a perpetrator of plunder from society that the just application of law requires. This, in itself, is another instance of plundering which the law should be used to prevent.

    Put bluntly:

    Arrest the individual, place him in jail, and seize his vehicle. He can be released without his vehicle once he is sober. In order that he be able to get to and from work, his vehicle will be sold and used to pay for responsible transportation to and from his place of work until such time as the value of the seized vehicle has been exceeded. Then the person is responsible in securing another means of transport on their own.

    The pain and misery caused by the drunk driving must be placed squarely on the individual perpetrator not anyone else.

    -- Posted by Liveforlight on Fri, Dec 18, 2015, at 7:19 PM
  • Alcoholism, and/or drug addiction is classed by the American Medical Association as a Bio-Psycho-Social illness. True chemical dependency is characterized by a devastating negative effect upon a person physically, mentally and socially. There are many assessment instruments available to clinicians to determine if one is actually chemically dependent. A simpler way to look at it is that drinking that causes problems is problem drinking. Fortunately, only about one out of ten drinkers will become alcoholics. However the alcoholic himself is usually the last one to know because addiction is a earmarked by intense denial. There are many people who use treatment as a crutch to get out of some form of legal problem, or remain sober until a crisis is over. For the true alcoholic, these attempts often result in a relapse that brings with it, even worse consequences. The downward spiral of addiction is easy to see and it's absolutely heartbreaking to watch someone you love destroy themselves. Addiction is a slow self induced manner of suicide for those who don't get clean. The alcoholic has a devastating effect upon family, friends and society.

    -- Posted by Tim Lokey on Sun, Dec 20, 2015, at 1:23 PM
  • *

    The solution is simple!

    I watched the news a few years ago on prostitution in Nashville.

    The city mayor got together with the chief of police and others and started a sting on prostitution calling it sex trafficing. Only the men were arrested when the under cover lady cops came on to the men who looked their way.

    They immediately were arrested by waiting cops and agents around the corner.

    Their punishment was - to pay a big fine and lose the car they were driving at the time because it was involved in the crime.

    Something like that would get the dui's off the street or make them get another car somehow.

    -- Posted by sui on Sun, Dec 20, 2015, at 5:33 PM
  • Very good summary, Tim. There are a couple of reasons to call addiction a moral issue. One would be simply having had no exposure to the problem (or lacking sufficient insight to see what is happening.) The other is a form of self flattery: If addiction is a sign of moral inadequacy, then I (as a nonaddict) am morally superior.

    Likewise, the concept of "treating" addiction with punishment requires one to suspend the ability to rationally analyze the situation. Addicts lose their family, their jobs, and their friends. They wreck their health, more often than not destroy their minds, and ultimately die... Exactly what sort of punishment is going to get thru, if those things will not?

    Obviously any effective method for preventing drunk driving will require a physical blocking of the ability to drive. Addicts simply cannot control their behavior. I believe we have made a lot of headway during my lifetime, in discouraging alcohol impaired driving thru education and social disapproval. Most of what remains are the people with an addiction problem.

    What we are left with is a matter of making a weighted decision, just like we do with letting 16-year-olds get a drivers license. We know they are too young to really make good decisions behind the wheel, but we trade the certainty that a disproportionate number of 16-year-old drivers will die in car accidents for the convenience of not having to chauffeur them around. If the reduction in vehicular carnage was worth the extra expense in purchasing a vehicle, every car would have a driver alcohol detector, and would block the transmission of cell phone signals.

    -- Posted by lazarus on Sun, Dec 20, 2015, at 6:15 PM
  • *

    Here's an good way.

    Raise the price of Alcohol just like they did illegally with Cigarettes. Make it too expensive to buy and enjoy. Then pass a law where you can only drink it in your home, kinda like cigarettes, but not in front of minor children who could be injured by Alcohol.

    See how unconstitutional that is??? And they done it with Cigarettes and Tobacco. They are still raising the price of Cigarettes to injure the people and the Tobacco Industry.

    -- Posted by sui on Fri, Dec 25, 2015, at 2:00 PM
  • Block cell phone signals (except 911) from within a car while the car is in motion, and while eating dinner in a restaurant, or with your significant other. Hmmmm, you could be on to something.

    -- Posted by stevemills on Fri, Dec 25, 2015, at 3:31 PM
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