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.
David 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet him at @davidnwalkertx