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TinotopiaLog → Drinking Under The Influence ( 8 Jan 2003)
Wednesday 08 January 2003

Drinking Under The Influence

The Washington Post has now picked up the story of the Fairfax County Police’s policy of raiding bars and arresting for public drunkenness anyone who has a blood-alcohol level of greater than .08, the new legal limit in Virginia.

That’s the legal limit for driving a car, of course (and a legal limit that some studies show doesn’t even provide probable cause — i.e. evidence of drunkenness — for a breath test). The law doesn’t actually say how drunk you have to be to be publically intoxicated. The web of laws, and our social customs governing drinking would seem to indicate that there’s some happy state in which you can be considered unfit to drive a car, but safe for society in general. That the drunk-driving laws are there mainly to keep you from killing people, and that the drunk-in-public laws are there to keep you from being a pain in the ass.

My impression has always been that drunk-in-public laws were really obnoxious-drunk-in-public laws. That the probable cause for being arrested for being drunk was that you were behaving like a drunk asshole.

I still think that impression is correct, but

Police said the holiday raids, first reported in the Reston Times, were born of a community policing goal of discouraging crime before it occurs.

So perhaps they were trying to arrest people before they got drunk enough to be a problem? Interesting that that statement seems to indicate that no crime had yet occurred at the time of the raids.

Fitting in neatly with that bit of Big-Brotherism is this:

At Champps in Reston, general manager Kevin O’Hare described police as “antagonistic.” He said they “pulled” people from their chairs who were making no commotion. “They’re always welcome to come in anytime,” he said of police. “It’s not an issue when they talk to our guests. But when they actually pull people out of their seats, it is an issue. When it’s borderline harassment, it’s an issue.”

I would say that describing pulling people from their chairs as “borderline harassment” is a sign that something is seriously wrong. I don’t blame Mr. O’Hare for his weasel words — this guy has got to run the Noisiest Bar In Reston, which means that he’s got to be on good terms with the police. But if anyone other than the police were to come into Champp’s and start yanking people from their chairs, it wouldn’t be called borderline harassment, it’d be called assault and battery and possibly inciting to riot.

As far as I am aware, the Fairfax County police are the first to employ this policy of requiring that you be sober enough to drive at all times while in public. If this kind of jack-booted prudery stands up here, though, you can look for it to spread.

Posted by tino at 00:18 8.01.03
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From the Post article:

“Katherine K. Hanley (D), chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, said the operation was a tool to reduce drunken driving and would be evaluated before it is repeated.”

It sounds to me like the Board of Supers signed off on this. Dumbasses. I hope, though doubt, that they are all voted out of offic for this.

Posted by: RRP at January 9, 2003 08:45 PM

DWI, drunk driving, DUI, and a license to drink.

madd, sadd, radd, A.A., and Alanon related.

Copyright: 1993-2004 Bruce Alm

The answer to the problem of drunk driving, etc. could be this; a permit for the purchase and consumption of alcohol beverages.

This would not only be a major assault on the problem of drunk driving, but would also have an effect on virtually all other crimes such as these;

murder, rape, assault, burglary, robbery, suicide, vandalism, wife beating, child beating, child molestation, the spread of aids, college binge drinking, animal cruelty, etc., the list is endless.

If this proposition was made law, there could be a major reduction in all these areas of concern, even though the emphasis concerning alcohol abuse seems to be drunk driving in particular.

There could also be many other positive results;

families healed, better work performance, booze money spent on products that would help the economy (we’ve all heard of the guy who spends half his check in the bar on payday,) would spare many health problems, etc.

This new law could go something like this:

Any person found guilty of any crime where drinking was a factor would lose the right to purchase and/or consume alcohol beverages.

For a first misdemeanor, a three year revocation. a second misdemeanor, a ten year revocation. a third misdemeanor, a lifetime revocation. Any felony crime, an automatic lifetime revocation.

Anyone caught drinking alcohol without a permit would receive a possible $1000 fine and/or jail sentence. those who would supply alcohol to people without a drinking permit (and possibly make money at it,) would also lose his/her right to purchase alcohol beverages.

What wife or husband would buy an alcoholic spouse a bottle?

What friend would give a problem drinker a drink at the possible cost of a thousand bucks and the loss of their own privilege? This could be a total discouragement to these would-be pushers.

This permit doesn’t seem as though it would be a problem to put into effect. It could simply be a large X, or whatever, on the back of any drivers license in any state, to show who has been revoked, and cannot purchase alcohol.

Most people of drinking age have a driver’s license, but one area that might be a problem could be New York City, where many people don’t drive.

This problem could be resolved, however, by a license-type I.D. specifically for the purchase of alcohol beverages. Most, if not all states have these already for the purpose of identification.

This could be a small price to pay for the saved lives of thousands of Americans each and every year.

After this, it would simply be a matter of drinking establishments checking I.D.s at the time of purchase.

In the case of crowded bars, they could simply check I.D.s at the door, as they do now.

Would this be a violation of rights?

There can be no argument here since they already check I.D.s of people who look as though they may not be old enough to drink.

This could be a good saying, “If a person who doesn’t know how to drive shouldn’t have a license to drive, a person who doesn’t know how to drink shouldn’t have a license to drink.”

Here are some other pluses to this idea:

A good percentage of people in correctional institutions are there because of alcohol related offences . Because of this, court, penal, and law enforcement costs could drop dramatically.

The need for A.A., ALANON, MADD, SADD, etc., could be greatly diminished as well.

What the alcoholic fears most, is the temptation to have that first drink, usually a spur of the moment type thing. Without the ability to do this, he/she is fairly safe. To start drinking again would almost have to be planned in advance. and to maintain steady drinking would be extremely difficult, in most cases.

Even though A.A. members as a group don’t become involved in political movements, it seems as individuals, they would all be in favor of a situation like this. Any person who wants to quit drinking, even if never having been in trouble with the law, could simply turn in their license for the non-drinking type.

A woman from MAAD, on the NBC TODAY show, said “One out of every ten Americans has a drinking problem, and that 10% consumes 60% of all alcohol beverages sold in the U.S..”

If this is true, there could be financial problems for breweries, liquor stores, bars, rehab centers, etc., as well as lawyers, massive amounts of tax revenue ‘down the drain,’ and so on.

But it doesn’t seem as though anyone would have a valid argument against a proposal such as this for financial reasons. To do so would be morally wrong, and could be likened to a drug-pusher attitude.

Even with the problems this new law could present, it still could, in one sense, be considered the simple solution to the number one drug problem in the U.S. and elsewhere. Alcoholism.


What ever happened to the skid row drunk?

Posted by: bruce alm at January 7, 2004 11:31 PM