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.