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So any long time readers of my blog know how much I hate people who drink and drive. But I think I have finally found something that pisses me off about the states current DWI / DUI laws.

The front page story on this past Sunday's Albuquerque Journal was about how you can still be convicted of DWI / DUI even if you blow under a .08 BAC (Blood-alcohol Concentration), and not just under .08 BAC, we are talking .04 and .05 BAC. Frankly and very truthfully this pisses me off to no end.

The reason that this pisses me off is that laws should be clear cut and not subjective (ya ya, I know, wishful thinking). But the way our current DWI / DUI laws are written (and they have been written this way since the law was first enacted in 1919) are very subjective. The law states that "It is illegal to operate a motor vehicle if a driver's ability is 'impaired to the slightest degree' by alcohol." Whether or not my ability or anyone else’s ability to drive has been impaired is very subjective from person to person. It does not matter if that person has been trained or not, humans are very subjective creatures.

Now frankly, I really do not care if they lowered the presumed level of intoxicated to .05 or .04 BAC or even lower for that matter and enforced the law off of that. Also, since it now seems that BAC does not matter, figuring out if someone is intoxicated falls back to the field sobriety test — checking eye movement; walking heel to toe and turning around; standing on one leg; counting by multiples of seven; or reciting the alphabet backward.

Now the field sobriety test is where the subjective part comes in. Looking over that list above, there are about 3 or so things that I can not even do sober. I sure as hell can not recite the alphabet backwards and even counting my multiples of 7 is not easy for me. Also, for people with balance issues, standing on one leg is not easy. So right there, if I fail those 3 tests sober, then I have failed over half of the field sobriety tests, and in theory could be charged and convicted of a DWI / DUI.

The only thing in the field sobriety test that is even halfway close to being a true test is the eye movement test also known as the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test. But even in reality that is not a good test as there can be other things that cause and affect Nystagmus in a person, including lack of sleep.

Our DWI / DUI laws here in New Mexico seem to be moving more towards a police state then anything else, and I wonder where and when this will stop. I am all for tough enforcement & penalties of and for DWI / DUI laws when then they can be enforced and not what our current version is.


( 2 People Thought — Tell Me What You Think )
Aug. 7th, 2008 12:37 am (UTC)
The driving while impaired statutes predate the scientific measurement statues. When the ability to measure blood alcohol was developed the old standards were simply left on the books. They do allow the police to grab anyone who is impaired but below the limit, such as a 78 year old lady who has had one too many glasses of elder berry wine at her bridge party; she could blow a .06 and be legal but still be a hazard.

The down side is that it can (and often is) used to snag people to 'build the stats'.
Aug. 7th, 2008 04:39 am (UTC)
To me, if they are still a hazard, but fall under the legal limit, then they should be charged on reckless driving or something like that, and not a DUI / DWI.

My view is that they need to scrap the driving while impaired statutes and go with a scientific measurement statue that is below the current one, say .04 BAC to .06 BAC.

Especially here in New Mexico where any place and/or person that serves people alcohol are / is legally held responsible to not "over serve" them and not only the bar / restaurant / what ever can be held responsible and face fines and what not, but so are the actual person who served them, who can be jailed for “over serving”.
( 2 People Thought — Tell Me What You Think )


Kevin Murray

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