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Monday, July 13, 2009

McIlheran Watch: Rowen on DUI

by folkbum

As I wrote last week, Patrick McIlheran's Sunday column in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel was both a trip into fake-reality land (he claims, despite a lack of evidence, that the government plans to mandate alcohol-sensing ignition locks on all cars that must be used every time) and a celebration of the "responsible drunk" who knows perfectly well for himself that he's sober enough to drive.

At the time that I wrote, I did not have access to the full column, just the provocative excerpt. Now I do have access to it, and it does not exonerate him at all. In fact, it implicates him: "I drink and drive," he writes, toward the end, explaining that after a beer or a glass of wine he doesn't think twice about driving and he'll be damned if his car is ever going to tell him he's impaired.

James Rowen of the Political Environment piles on:
Wisconsin's typically American legal limit, at 0.08 BAC, is more generous that in other countries, so we already get a break--but, really, why would we celebrate it?--that other more thoughtful folk deem unacceptable. Examples--in Hungary, Brazil and the Czech Republic, the BAC is 0.00; in Norway and Sweden, 0.02; Japan, 0.03; portions of Canada, 0.05.

And consider that people who fly airplanes are not allowed to take the controls within eight hours of having any alcohol, and are considered legally-impaired if they were to test at 0.04 BAC--because alcohol slows down reflexes and muddles judgement.

If we had to abide by those standards, drunk driving crashes would pretty much disappear.
Rowen also links to evidence of how impaired drivers can be with BAC of as low as 0.05 and reminds us of the social contract: We expect you to choose to be safe, he says, and if you can't live up to that, you may need society's help to get there. You should really read the whole thing.

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