Drive sober or get pulled over

Few acts better exemplify reckless indifference to the value of human life than  drunk  driving. The World Health Organization estimates that 1.25 million people are killed each year in road accidents and 50 million more are disabled. Of these, 23,837 are Ethiopians. Around one third of road accidents are alcohol-related, so there may have already been over 100 million people killed by drunk driving – more than the number killed in both world wars combined.

There will be hundreds of millions more deaths and injuries from drunk driving, particularly given the increased rates of car ownership, unless something changes.

For too long we have let a legal fiction flourish, namely that drunk  driving killings are less serious than other killings. This means that those who kill others during say, a robbery will go to jail for many years, while killer drunk driver stands a good chance of receiving little or no jail time, even if it is not their first drunk driving offence.

But those who lose a family member due to drunk driving will feel as much pain as those whose loss is due to other unlawful killings. And perhaps there is no convincing reason someone who kills while influenced by alcohol should receive lesser punishment than someone who kills while influenced by emotion.

Stronger enforcement action might sever the link between drinking and driving. License suspension is plainly not enough. Indeed many drunk  drivers have never held a license, or continue to drive while disqualified, showing the same disregard for the law as for lives.

In the United States there are more and more prosecutions of dunk drivers for murder. That trend partly stems from a case where a seven year old girl was decapitated. The trend is controversial, but US juries have become increasingly unforgiving of drunk drivers. And why not? There is nothing more unforgiving than the impact of metal on human flesh.

In Australian jurisdictions the legal definition of murder could easily be interpreted to include drunk driving killings. The Crimes Act says that murder is committed where the act of the accused causing death was done with reckless indifference to human life.

The rationale for this is that someone who does an act knowing it is likely to cause death is just as blameworthy as someone who did the act intending to cause death. Someone who plays Russian roulette while pointing a gun at someone else, while being indifferent as to the outcome, is just as blameworthy as someone who intends to kill another.

It is true that these countries are way more developed than us, however we can easily make drunk driving killing a murder charge.

Law enforcement may direct that an act is done with reckless indifference if the accused realized that the act would likely cause the death of the deceased. But whether a drunk driver realizes that drunk driving is likely to kill someone or might kill someone, makes little moral difference, just as it makes little moral difference whether there are five bullets, or one bullet, in the gun when Russian roulette is played. In either case there is no justification for taking the risk. The social utility of drunk driving is non-existent.

While drunk driver killings prima facie sit comfortably within legislative definitions of murder, in many countries killer drunk drivers receive special leniency from the law – they will not get ‘life imprisonment’ as their maximum sentences are capped at much lower levels by traffic legislation, and their average sentences are lower still. But victims of drunk driving, and many others, would consider that life imprisonment is often deserved. This would at least prevent offenders from committing further offences during detention, and may deter them from doing so if eventually released.

Opponents of murder prosecutions assert that dunk drivers are less culpable than other killers. But these days, almost every adult has at least some knowledge of the dangers of drunk -driving and that it is against the law. Choosing to have numerous drinks and then choosing to get into a vehicle, turn the key and drive is choosing to endanger the lives of others. Is it really the case that the combined blameworthiness of all those choices is less than a single split-second choice to throw a punch or pull a trigger? Being drunk clearly does not prevent a decision not to drive – if it did then all drunks would drive.

The average drunk driver will have driven under the influence many, possibly dozens, of times before their first arrest. Charging drunk  drivers, or at least the worst offenders, with murder is probably fair. Concerns about this being too harsh might be reduced if everyone convicted of drunk driving was given a written warning by a court that if they drive drunk  and kill someone they could be charged with murder, or if everyone received such a warning on applying for or renewing their license.

We have become increasingly concerned with road safety since the days of horse and cart. Sooner or later there will be harsher punishments for drunk drivers. It’s time we made more effort to prevent them from playing Russian roulette with others’ lives. It would be worthwhile to put life imprisonment on the table for drunk  driver killings in Australia, whatever the legal technicalities and whether labeled as murder, manslaughter or given a euphemistic description.

Of course drunk driving is just one dangerous driving behavior, and drunk drivers are merely part of a broader alcohol and drug problem. This is a reason to address those other issues, not to be soft on drunk driving.

Alcohol causes much more harm than tobacco. While both drugs cause a range of cancers and problems, smoking doesn’t lead to violence or to the same degradation and degeneration as alcohol, and smoke driving deaths are rare.

Banning tobacco advertising has reduced smoking. Advertising bans, and compulsory plain packaging and warning labels are effective and inexpensive measures which should be implemented in both the alcohol and tobacco contexts, industry complaints notwithstanding. Education may be useful to reduce drunk driving, although it cannot replace punishment if punishment is deserved.

So, if you’re enjoying the holidays with a drink— drive sober or get pulled over. Due to the increase in drunk-driving-related fatalities around the holidays each year, law enforcement agencies will be actively searching for and arresting drunk drivers.

It’s time for all drivers to get the message. Drunk driving is a choice you make; and when you make that choice, people get hurt or die. Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over. The safest way to get home is to drive sober or catch a ride with a sober designated driverg

Few acts better exemplify reckless indifference to the value of human life than  drunk  driving. The World Health Organization estimates that 1.25 million people are killed each year in road accidents and 50 million more are disabled. Of these, 23,837 are Ethiopians. Around one third of road accidents are alcohol-related, so there may have already been over 100 million people killed by drunk driving – more than the number killed in both world wars combined.

There will be hundreds of millions more deaths and injuries from drunk driving, particularly given the increased rates of car ownership, unless something changes.

For too long we have let a legal fiction flourish, namely that drunk  driving killings are less serious than other killings. This means that those who kill others during say, a robbery will go to jail for many years, while killer drunk driver stands a good chance of receiving little or no jail time, even if it is not their first drunk driving offence.

But those who lose a family member due to drunk driving will feel as much pain as those whose loss is due to other unlawful killings. And perhaps there is no convincing reason someone who kills while influenced by alcohol should receive lesser punishment than someone who kills while influenced by emotion.

Stronger enforcement action might sever the link between drinking and driving. License suspension is plainly not enough. Indeed many drunk  drivers have never held a license, or continue to drive while disqualified, showing the same disregard for the law as for lives.

In the United States there are more and more prosecutions of dunk drivers for murder. That trend partly stems from a case where a seven year old girl was decapitated. The trend is controversial, but US juries have become increasingly unforgiving of drunk drivers. And why not? There is nothing more unforgiving than the impact of metal on human flesh.

In Australian jurisdictions the legal definition of murder could easily be interpreted to include drunk driving killings. The Crimes Act says that murder is committed where the act of the accused causing death was done with reckless indifference to human life.

The rationale for this is that someone who does an act knowing it is likely to cause death is just as blameworthy as someone who did the act intending to cause death. Someone who plays Russian roulette while pointing a gun at someone else, while being indifferent as to the outcome, is just as blameworthy as someone who intends to kill another.

It is true that these countries are way more developed than us, however we can easily make drunk driving killing a murder charge.

Law enforcement may direct that an act is done with reckless indifference if the accused realized that the act would likely cause the death of the deceased. But whether a drunk driver realizes that drunk driving is likely to kill someone or might kill someone, makes little moral difference, just as it makes little moral difference whether there are five bullets, or one bullet, in the gun when Russian roulette is played. In either case there is no justification for taking the risk. The social utility of drunk driving is non-existent.

While drunk driver killings prima facie sit comfortably within legislative definitions of murder, in many countries killer drunk drivers receive special leniency from the law – they will not get ‘life imprisonment’ as their maximum sentences are capped at much lower levels by traffic legislation, and their average sentences are lower still. But victims of drunk driving, and many others, would consider that life imprisonment is often deserved. This would at least prevent offenders from committing further offences during detention, and may deter them from doing so if eventually released.

Opponents of murder prosecutions assert that dunk drivers are less culpable than other killers. But these days, almost every adult has at least some knowledge of the dangers of drunk -driving and that it is against the law. Choosing to have numerous drinks and then choosing to get into a vehicle, turn the key and drive is choosing to endanger the lives of others. Is it really the case that the combined blameworthiness of all those choices is less than a single split-second choice to throw a punch or pull a trigger? Being drunk clearly does not prevent a decision not to drive – if it did then all drunks would drive.

The average drunk driver will have driven under the influence many, possibly dozens, of times before their first arrest. Charging drunk  drivers, or at least the worst offenders, with murder is probably fair. Concerns about this being too harsh might be reduced if everyone convicted of drunk driving was given a written warning by a court that if they drive drunk  and kill someone they could be charged with murder, or if everyone received such a warning on applying for or renewing their license.

We have become increasingly concerned with road safety since the days of horse and cart. Sooner or later there will be harsher punishments for drunk drivers. It’s time we made more effort to prevent them from playing Russian roulette with others’ lives. It would be worthwhile to put life imprisonment on the table for drunk  driver killings in Australia, whatever the legal technicalities and whether labeled as murder, manslaughter or given a euphemistic description.

Of course drunk driving is just one dangerous driving behavior, and drunk drivers are merely part of a broader alcohol and drug problem. This is a reason to address those other issues, not to be soft on drunk driving.

Alcohol causes much more harm than tobacco. While both drugs cause a range of cancers and problems, smoking doesn’t lead to violence or to the same degradation and degeneration as alcohol, and smoke driving deaths are rare.

Banning tobacco advertising has reduced smoking. Advertising bans, and compulsory plain packaging and warning labels are effective and inexpensive measures which should be implemented in both the alcohol and tobacco contexts, industry complaints notwithstanding. Education may be useful to reduce drunk driving, although it cannot replace punishment if punishment is deserved.

So, if you’re enjoying the holidays with a drink— drive sober or get pulled over. Due to the increase in drunk-driving-related fatalities around the holidays each year, law enforcement agencies will be actively searching for and arresting drunk drivers.

It’s time for all drivers to get the message. Drunk driving is a choice you make; and when you make that choice, people get hurt or die. Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over. The safest way to get home is to drive sober or catch a ride with a sober designated driver.