Drunk Driving

We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.

My friend Natalie Hartford wrote a blog recently about a new drunk driving law in Alberta. She lives some 2600 miles east of Alberta in New Brunswick, but she was applauding her fellow-Canadians for passing this law.

As with all of man’s endeavors, it’s not perfect, but it does put some teeth into the prosecution of drunk drivers and getting them off the streets and highways. She has suffered the loss of family members to this scourge, as have several of the readers who commented on her post. I feel their pain, although my family has been fortunate enough to avoid such tragedy.

The new law calls for the immediate suspension of the offender’s driver’s license rather than waiting for months (years?) for the case to come to trial, during which time the offender can continue driving and risking the lives and health of others. Of course, if any state passed such a law here, the ACLU would immediately jump in screaming this was a forfeiture of property without due process of law.

But would it really be? Is a driver’s license property, or is it a privilege extended by society to the recipient through the instrument of state government? And can’t privileges have strings attached? I know my dad always thought it was reasonable to attach strings to privileges.

“Yes, son, you may take the car, but you must be home by midnight.” He thought that was a reasonable restriction to my privilege, and I had the option of declining the offer and walking. (Yeah, right!)

Why can’t a state or province issue a license that says it is valid as long as the bearer does not fail a roadside sobriety test? By accepting the license, we agree to the restriction. As computer users, we’re accustomed to agreeing to terms and conditions in exchange for the right to use someone’s software. Why can’t this principle be applied to the issue of driver’s licenses.

Natalie’s post goes into some other provisions of the new law, which I won’t get into today. My main point is that I think the immediate forfeiture provision either is or could be made to be constitutionally valid.

I can’t in good conscience post this without a confession. No, I’ve never been ticketed for DWI—but I should have. When I was in college (yes, we had cars way back then) I woke up in my dormitory one evening after having passed out at a cocktail party hours earlier.

My best friend was with me and began telling me about all the driving I did after the cocktail party was over, how he’d tried to get my keys away from me, and how I’d insisted on driving. It scares me to this day to think about what might have happened. I can only thank God it didn’t and hope this confession didn’t turn you away.

If you drink, that’s your business. I have nothing to say either way about that. But if you drink and drive, it becomes society’s business. Society does have a right to protect itself against the mayhem—not to mention the costs—that can result from drunk driving.

How do you feel about this new law Alberta has passed?

What do you think about the fairness or unfairness of making the privilege of driving contingent upon not failing a sobriety test, with the immediate suspension of the license required in the event of such a failure?

Let me know what you think.

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imageDavid N. Walker is a Christian father and grandfather, a grounded pilot and a near-scratch golfer who had to give up the game because of shoulder problems. A graduate of Duke University, he spent 42 years as a health insurance agent. Most of that career was spent in Texas, but for a few years he traveled many other states. He started writing about 20 years ago, and has six unpublished novels to use as primers on how NOT to write fiction. He has just e-pubbed his devotional, Heaven Sent: 67 Stories of Godly Thoughts and Inspiration (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008CRL82M). His new fiction work—a series of novellas set during the period from 1860 to 1880 is underway. The first one is in the editing process, and he’s currently writing the second one.

Contact David at davwalktx@yahoo.com or tweet him at @davidnwalkertx

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About David N. Walker

David N. Walker is a Christian husband, father and grandfather, a grounded pilot and a near-scratch golfer who had to give up the game because of shoulder problems. A graduate of Duke University, he spent 42 years in the health insurance industry, during which time he traveled much of the United States. He started writing about 20 years ago and has been a member and leader in several writers' groups. Christianity 101: The Simplified Christian Life, the devotional Heaven Sent and the novella series, Fancy, are now available in paperback and in Kindle and Nook formats, as well as through Smashwords and Kobo. See information about both of these by clicking "Books" above.
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21 Responses to Drunk Driving

  1. My aunt was killed by a drunk driver. As long as this law is enforced fairly, I’d be all for it. Of course, there are always unintended consequences (3 Strikes Law, anyone?).

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    • You make a good point, Sonia. As long as humans are involved, there will be errors and unintended consequences. However, this looks like a good step inthe right direction.

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  2. 40,000+ people die on US roads a year, a significant fraction of those from alcohol related accidents. There is simply no excuse for the law to be kept (and enforced?) as weak as it is.

    Cheers!

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  3. Sherry Isaac says:

    Go, Alberta! World, follow suit.

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  4. Completely agree with you, David. It is a privilege and one that should be taken seriously and taken away should the need ever arise. I remember working on a child custody case and the father had 8 DWI’s over a 7 (I think) year period. He was on probation (although why he hadn’t actually made it to prison yet is beyond me). He had one of those breathalyzer locks on his car. His 8 year old daughter told me he had her blow into it so he could start the car. I phoned his probation officer, yet nothing was done. He got his 9th DWI while the case was in family court. He finally went to jail for a while, but I’m sure it wasn’t long enough. Someone with a habitual problem like that doesn’t need to be a risk to society.

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  5. Marcia says:

    Totally agree with you, David and I love that you’re so supportive of Natalie and her quest. When my kids were teens I pounded into them the idea that “a car is a weapon. It can kill like a knife or a gun. If you want the privilege of driving, you must take that seriously.” They always did. They’d call if they couldn’t drive or they’d ride with someone else who could. Designated drivers were a common thing when they were teens and early 20s. Fortunately, I never heard of any of their friends being ticketed or in accidents from drinking and driving. Commitment is also something many don’t take seriously. Sad, because they are the ones who may one day be devastated by the consequences of not being committed to sobriety when driving. Wonderful post, David!

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  6. Barbara Estinson says:

    I really like this post, David, I agree that driving is a privilege not a right. It comes with a big responsibility to be mindful of the safety of others as well as oneself. The Alberta law sounds right on to me. And thanks for sharing your college experience … though scary when you think back, it sounds as if it were a real learning experience for you. I imagine that almost everyone can recall scary or stupid things we have done … and hopefully learned from. Though I was not a drinker in my college days, I recall more than one instance of driving when I was too impaired to do so in my late 30’s-early 40s. I too thank God that I didn’t cause a horrible wreck.
    Love ya.

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    • Barbara Estinson says:

      Since I cant find a way to edit that post, I just need to mention that “I really like this post, David” should be followed by a period, not a comma. LOL …..

      And I was thinking of the implied consent laws that most, if not all, states have for drivers’ licenses. Why couldn’t the automatic loss of license be part of laws such as these?

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  7. Karlene says:

    Oh… I think that all of us in those olden days were guilty of such confession. Thank God we grew up and learned. But some don’t learn and need to have the law step in. Good law! Okay… my husband, 40 plus years ago was in the day of drinking and parting. Not only was their group driving, but they drove to the airport and dropped off one of their friends, who had also been drinking way too much, as he had to go to work. Yes… Airline pilot. Those were the “scary” days.
    Thanks for your post!

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  8. Sniffffff…
    Love the post David and thank you so much for your support, shout out, and your amazing thoughts. I was blown away and so deeply touched.
    I couldn’t agree more. People see driving as a right but it isn’t. It’s a privilege. One earned and bestowed on us with the intent that we will keep the safety of ourselves, our passengers and others on the road at the forefront of our minds. One in which we’ve earn the privilege to drive but also take on the responsibility that comes with manoeuvring a multi-ton potential weapon around the streets of town.
    If we can’t obey the laws in which we earned said privilege, it should be revoked until such time as we prove ourselves worthy of the trust again. And given the impact that impaired driving has on the safety of others, I don’t see the law as over reaching in the protection of the innocent.
    But hey…I accept I am slightly bias so I am always open and accepting to those who disagree or have another point of view.
    I appreciate your honesty. It warmed my heart that you would share it with all your readers. I too have made the same error in judgement in my youth. Thankfully, no one was hurt by my poor choice but I do understand how “easy” the decision to drive drunk can be made…when you are drunk. It just doesn’t seem like that big of deal. Nor do a lot of things when your drunk. 🙂
    That’s why I think each of us needs to make a decision and commitment to ourselves to never drink and drive…period! I’d rather walk a hundred miles than get behind of the wheel drunk (or even tipsy). It’s simply NOT worth it. Once that constitution is set in our heart, the decision is always crystal clear. And non-negotiable.
    Thank you again for your amazing support…always!

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