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The New Jim Crow

Jim Crow was a term, or is a term used to refer to segregationist rules and laws, instituted in the South after the Civil War, intended to keep things as they were and institutionalize rampant racism. Now, with racism unfathomable as well as unfashionable, Jim Crow has become, to borrow the phrase, a term that could ostensibly apply to DUI enforcement, with drinkers being the Jim and the enforcement of DUI’s being the Crow. Everyone, almost, agreed that DRUNK driving is dangerous, but there are books to be written on how bizarre this country’s policy on DUI enforcement has become after MADD’s influence.

No one can call MADD, or Mothers Against Drunk Driving, anything but well intentioned, and help but feel heartfelt sorrow about their losses, but the fact is that there is no other law enforcement procedure that has as far reaching an influence on regular run of the mill citizens, than DUI enforcement. This might be fine if we decided together that affecting the some 17,000 lives taken as a result of drunk driving, is a goal that deserves the billions invested in enforcement and lost by defendants who were trying to obey a confused message advertised by state and national governments that have no clue as to what makes a real DUI, or rather a dangerous DUI.

Simply put, dangerous DUI’s are any DUI where the driver is actually impaired. Notice the word IMPAIRED: it doesn’t mean unable to complete the roadside field “tests” but rather impaired like you or I would view the word; you see the person, speak with them, and you can tell they are shot, toasted, drunk, unsafe – whatever. The difference is that while states advertise “DONT DRIVE DRUNK” they are sending a totally mixed message. The real danger isn’t the driver that has two drinks at dinner, and blows a .095; the danger is rather the driver who insists on driving because they are fine. But because DUI enforcement has taken a bird shot approach, with police stopping “suspicious” cars during late night, they are getting a majority, read MAJORITY of people who are over .080 and DUI under the law, but were trying to obey the law. That’s due to a variety of reasons discussed elsewhere in this blog; but importantly, these people set out with the number .080 in their minds as a number that means drunk. Due to the mass marketing of the phrase “drunk driving” and the number .080 indicating per se, or automatic DUI; people have come to associate .080 with drunkenness and because they don’t feel drunk and are NOT impaired, they assume that they are not over .080!

What the state and national governments should o is advertise heavily that .080 can be reached with even one (1) drink! That would go a long way to halting this steady progression of defendant’s who intended to obey the law but were confused by the state’s message. Instead we have, as proof mind you, 70% of the drunk driving DUI defendants NEVER repeating their behavior, which either speaks to the ingenuousness of the drivers to begin with, or the fear of punishment after having experienced the legal system, or some combination of both.

I would argue that this is an example of the former, of people being confused, rather than people trying to beat the system; if people knew that .080 was one drink away, my argument is that the large majority of them would not drink, or would test themselves. My argument is consistent with the general public being aware that driving drunk is illegal, but moreover a product of the confusion caused by the mixed messages of driving drunk alongside the .080 legal limit, with people being caused to believe that .080 is drunk, when nothing could be further from the truth.

WHAT DO YOU THINK, I’M INTERESTED IN HEARING FROM YOU REGARDING ANY STORIES YOU MAY HAVE OF YOURSELF OR FAMILY BEING TREATED HARSHLY BY THE SYSTEM WHEN THE INTENTION WAS TO STAY WITHIN THE LAW.

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