Sunday, April 12, 2009

DUI Follow-Up

The driver responsible for the Nick Adenhart tragedy is being charged with three counts of murder. How can you charge this man with murder? Was the accident mapped out beforehand? I'm not arguing that he should receive a lighter sentence, but if Andrew Gallo is a murderer, all other drunk drivers are attempted murderers.

Responding to CardSharpCook's comment on my previous post: Perhaps the tone of my post suggested that I think there's no difference between Gallo and anyone who downs a few brews at the neighborhood pub and drives home two blocks with a .09 BAC. That's not entirely reasonable; if it were up to me, the punishment for any DUI would be quite severe, but there would still be additional penalties for causing harm to others, plus a sliding scale where blowing a .15 results in a much greater punishment than blowing a .09. (This may be in place already; I'm not terribly familiar with DUI laws.) Though it's logistically impossible, I'd also like to see a harsher penalty for someone who drives drunk for 20 miles rather than two.

However, comparing drunk drivers to sober drivers (as in the comment) is unreasonable. Operating an automobile grants the driver the power to injure or kill others. A drunk driver has demonstrated that he is not willing to wield this power responsibly; this is different from someone who makes his best attempt to drive safely but still suffers an accident. A better analogy to a drunk driver would be a gun owner who fires his weapon randomly into a city park. When assigning punishment to a person who does this, should it matter that much whether he was (un)lucky enough to hit and kill someone?

CardSharpCook does bring up one good point: it's time to improve the drunk driving propaganda we see in schools. If your school was anything like mine, they faked all the statistics for shock value and painted every drunk driving victim as an innocent 18 year old. The truth is harsh enough. Let's leave it at that.

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