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Should DUI be illegal?

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BRG253
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I tried a search but couldn't find anything. There seem to be a lot of people in the "libertarian" or freedom movement crowd who believe that DUI should not be illegal, and that one should only be liable if he actually harms someone while driving. What is the Objectivist stance on this?

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Well I'd have to agree with the libertarian crowd then. It isn't an initiation of force if you do not actually use nor directly threaten force. Driving drunk does neither (as obviously you aren't capable of threatening someone with force if you cannot interact with them in any way). Now, if you do in fact damage someone's property then I do see a justification, perhaps, in increasing the punishment because you were negligent.

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Ask yourself first; Who owns the road?

If you drive on *my* road, a precondition is that you not be drunk.

I would be one (of probably many) who would only patronize roads which enforce some standards of safety so as to keep myself and my family... alive.

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I don't think the IOF principle is applicable here,( unless "potential IOF" is a factor, and this doesn't seem rational.)

I consider a motor vehicle as a guided 'missile' that requires a sober and responsible operator to get to its destination without risking others' lives and property.

I don't know if any of us would want to use the roads if other drivers did not share the same control we have (supposedly).

Remove the DUI law, and you may as well remove the driving licence law, or the law of having a roadworthy vehicle.

This would result in highway anarchy, and that's probably what attracts libertarians!

Me, I think this is one of the few areas we need limited government involvement.

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My thoughts:

Just this week in my home state texting while driving has been illegal.

Infringements of this kind are imminent once "pre-emptive force" is enough for a new law.

Soon, I'm sure, talking on the telephone will be illegal while driving; but why stop there? Really, not being tongue-in-cheek, what is the reason for stopping there?

Eating a burger or taking a swig of the last sip from a Coke can keeps you from operating the car at full efficiency; should these also be something cops should use their time to keep you from doing?

Plus it makes people criminals for texting in their cars while operating it.

It's not the actual damage you've done that you must pay for. It is the fact that you were in your car's driver seat while it was moving and you were texting.

The DUI law sets a standard of BAC that not every body works with. Some people with low alcohol tolerance will have a BAC below DUI level and still drive dangerously. Others who have much higher tolerance can operate the vehicle normally with above the accepted BAC.

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I don't think the IOF principle is applicable here,( unless "potential IOF" is a factor, and this doesn't seem rational.)

I consider a motor vehicle as a guided 'missile' that requires a sober and responsible operator to get to its destination without risking others' lives and property.

...

Me, I think this is one of the few areas we need limited government involvement.

I don't think the IOF principle is applicable here, (unless "potential IOF" is a factor, and this doesn't seem rational.)

I consider a plank of wood as a guided 'missile' that requires a sober and responsible operator to not beat someone over the head with it, thereby risking others' lives and property.

Me, I think this is one of the few areas we need limited government involvement.

Edited by Iudicious
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Well I'd have to agree with the libertarian crowd then. It isn't an initiation of force if you do not actually use nor directly threaten force. Driving drunk does neither (as obviously you aren't capable of threatening someone with force if you cannot interact with them in any way). Now, if you do in fact damage someone's property then I do see a justification, perhaps, in increasing the punishment because you were negligent.

I do not agree.

If I go into a relatively public place, pull out a gun, and start circling slowly and firing off shots at random, I'm not posing a purposeful threat to other people, but what I *AM* doing is creating a serious risk of harm to other people by my negligent actions. I am, in fact, imposing upon them the direct threat of harm without directly interacting with them in any *other* capacity, and while my intent is not to harm them, simply to enjoy firing a gun while getting dizzy, the risk is tangible.

In like fashion, if I knowingly impair my ability to operate a multi-thousand pound machine, then get into it and drive around with hampered reactions and judgment, I am also creating a direct threat of harm for those people who's path I cross.

The freedom to act does not give us the freedom to act negligently. We cannot morally shout "Fire!" in a crowded theater because we feel like it. We cannot morally shoot randomly because we feel like it. We cannot morally drive our cars when we can't operate them properly. None of those actions may be intended to harm anyone, but they nevertheless initiate the threat of physical harm.

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Altering your statement, Greebo, removing your qualifiers, it is also true that: if I knowingly operate a multi-thousand pound machine, and drive around, I am creating a direct threat of harm for those people who's path I cross.

There's always some risk to others (who are driving as well) when individuals drive. If the roads were private property, the owners would set the conditions of use in part due to concerns for safety, and the customers would decide whether or not to accept the level of risk (and purchase insurance against those risks).

Not to say that there still wouldn't be an issue of negligence.

With the government as the owner of the roads, with "public roads," the government sets the conditions of use, just as it does with deep-well, off-shore oil-drilling.

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My thoughts:

Just this week in my home state texting while driving has been illegal.

Infringements of this kind are imminent once "pre-emptive force" is enough for a new law.

Soon, I'm sure, talking on the telephone will be illegal while driving; but why stop there? Really, not being tongue-in-cheek, what is the reason for stopping there?

Eating a burger or taking a swig of the last sip from a Coke can keeps you from operating the car at full efficiency; should these also be something cops should use their time to keep you from doing?

Plus it makes people criminals for texting in their cars while operating it.

It's not the actual damage you've done that you must pay for. It is the fact that you were in your car's driver seat while it was moving and you were texting.

The DUI law sets a standard of BAC that not every body works with. Some people with low alcohol tolerance will have a BAC below DUI level and still drive dangerously. Others who have much higher tolerance can operate the vehicle normally with above the accepted BAC.

This is false. When your tolerance is higher because you drink regularly, you still experience the negative cognitive effects of a high BAC, you just aren't aware of it. Your judgement is still impaired, your reaction time is slower, and you can still make poor decisions, especially while driving. Aside from that, BAC is largely dependent on a person's weight, and with regular alcohol consumption you can actually drink more than someone else and have a lower BAC. Your body will actually start being more efficient at absorbing alcohol (although when you get to that point it is a health concern). So taking all things into consideration, BAC is a very reliable indicator of drunkenness. It may not be perfect, but allowing people to drive drunk is absurd.

I would be all in favor of making it illegal to do anything else with your hands while you are driving. You shouldn't be eating or drinking while you are driving. You could do it 100 times successfully, but there is always that chance that while your attention is diverted for that moment something happens that causes you to harm someone else. Why take the chance? It is stupid, and since you are in fact putting other people at risk, it is immoral.

I agree with the person who compared driving drunk to waving a gun around. I think doing something else with your hands while driving is similar, though not quite as bad.

Edited by Ragnar69
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Altering your statement, Greebo, removing your qualifiers, it is also true that: if I knowingly operate a multi-thousand pound machine, and drive around, I am creating a direct threat of harm for those people who's path I cross.

This is true - but you are also hopefully not doing so negligently. You are, presumably, qualified to operate the machine under normal conditions, thus you are not creating a situation where your *ability* to operate the multi thousand pound machine is impaired.

I am specifically talking about negligent behavior and reckless behavior, a category under which DUI demonstrably falls.

When there is a specific type of behavior which clearly contributes undue, unnecessary, unjustifiable risk to others without their active consent, it is wholly reasonable for Government to declare such behavior criminal.

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I would be all in favor of making it illegal to do anything else with your hands while you are driving.
Taken seriously, it would lead to absurd emergency stops on the road so that a person could scratch their nose, take off their sunglasses, or open a window. It would also allow use of hands-free phone-calling. What needs to be made illegal is doing anything else with your mind.
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I don't think the IOF principle is applicable here, (unless "potential IOF" is a factor, and this doesn't seem rational.)

I consider a plank of wood as a guided 'missile' that requires a sober and responsible operator to not beat someone over the head with it, thereby risking others' lives and property.

Me, I think this is one of the few areas we need limited government involvement.

And your point is ...What, exactly?

Or has sardonic parody become the latest fashion in rational debate ? (seeing as there is an earlier instance of it over in M. and E.)

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Thought policing?

There is a technology, fitted to automobiles, that requires the driver to have his breath analyzed, for alcohol, before the vehicle can be started, if I understand correctly.

Surely there can be technology that would continuously monitor the driver's brain while driving, an EKG technology perhaps, which would, if the driver's brain scan deviated beyond some amount of his standardized scan, deliver a mild (or greater, depending upon the degree of mental lack of focus (on driving), shock to the driver so as to get his mind back on what he's doing.

Not only could it control the errant mind while driving, but it could prove to be a benefit to mental health in general.

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I would be all in favor of making it illegal to do anything else with your hands while you are driving. You shouldn't be eating or drinking while you are driving.

I'm assuming that you are speaking of private road owners making that decision, and not a law enacted by group vote? It would be terrible for a vote to lower the

standards for everyone. Anyways, I drink/eat and drive all the time. I'm able to do so because my mind is focused on not only driving but also on other tasks such

as eating fast food, talking on my phone, etc. There is a key difference between concentrating and focusing, and in order to multi-task I focus.

If a ban is going to be placed on multi-tasking while driving an automobile on government roads, why stop there? Consistency should be continued to include

the banning of all machinery that inherently require multi-tasking while on government owned property.

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This is false. When your tolerance is higher because you drink regularly, you still experience the negative cognitive effects of a high BAC, you just aren't aware of it. Your judgement is still impaired, your reaction time is slower, and you can still make poor decisions, especially while driving. Aside from that, BAC is largely dependent on a person's weight, and with regular alcohol consumption you can actually drink more than someone else and have a lower BAC. Your body will actually start being more efficient at absorbing alcohol (although when you get to that point it is a health concern). So taking all things into consideration, BAC is a very reliable indicator of drunkenness. It may not be perfect, but allowing people to drive drunk is absurd.

I retract my statement in light of evidence of which I was previously unaware.

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There is a technology, fitted to automobiles, that requires the driver to have his breath analyzed, for alcohol, before the vehicle can be started, if I understand correctly.

Surely there can be technology that would continuously monitor the driver's brain while driving, an EKG technology perhaps, which would, if the driver's brain scan deviated beyond some amount of his standardized scan, deliver a mild (or greater, depending upon the degree of mental lack of focus (on driving), shock to the driver so as to get his mind back on what he's doing.

Not only could it control the errant mind while driving, but it could prove to be a benefit to mental health in general.

I'm shocked that you would suggest such a thing.

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I'm assuming that you are speaking of private road owners making that decision, and not a law enacted by group vote? It would be terrible for a vote to lower the

standards for everyone. Anyways, I drink/eat and drive all the time. I'm able to do so because my mind is focused on not only driving but also on other tasks such

as eating fast food, talking on my phone, etc. There is a key difference between concentrating and focusing, and in order to multi-task I focus.

If a ban is going to be placed on multi-tasking while driving an automobile on government roads, why stop there? Consistency should be continued to include

the banning of all machinery that inherently require multi-tasking while on government owned property.

Didn't Rand say something to the effect of until everything is privatized as it should be, we still have to live in this country and deal with the way things are? There is nothing I can effectively do to privatize roads, as much as I think it would be a good idea. In the meantime, I pay taxes and tolls to the government, and in return I expect there to be laws that aim to prevent me from being run over by some asshole on a cell phone, just as I expect there to be laws that aim to prevent me from being robbed at gunpoint. I think it's the same principle.

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I'm shocked that you would suggest such a thing.

Yes, well, it's a shocking idea. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Another possibility would be to get rid of all forms of private transportation entirely, having public transportation exclusively. Then, only a relatively few drivers would be required to be fitted with such a technology and endure such technological management. Given that the Postal Service is having such trouble making a profit, we could let the Postal Service get involved. The teacher's union could also get involved. Think of all the auto accidents this would prevent. As is often said, if it saves just one life, wouldn't it be worth it?

Or, as long as we're going to permit individual's to own their own vehicles and drive (after all, isn't driving a privilege, granted by the state, and not a right?), we could require a "buddy system" whereby no driver could ever drive alone. Each driver's "buddy" (licensed by the state as perhaps an "Official Buddy Driver") could monitor the driver's performance and slap the driver, or some such, if ever his attention seems to be wondering. This could do wonders for the current unemployment numbers.

Edited by Trebor
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Didn't Rand say something to the effect of until everything is privatized as it should be, we still have to live in this country and deal with the way things are? There is nothing I can effectively do to privatize roads, as much as I think it would be a good idea. In the meantime, I pay taxes and tolls to the government, and in return I expect there to be laws that aim to prevent me from being run over by some asshole on a cell phone, just as I expect there to be laws that aim to prevent me from being robbed at gunpoint. I think it's the same principle.

Under government control there is not much of a choice concerning whether to use the roads during your daily activities or not.

In the meantime there is a tragedy of the commons, yes.

My response to your previous post was partly caused to reading that you are for the legislation of anti- multi-tasking while operating

automobiles. Seeing how you are for legislation of this, I had assumed that you are also for government owned roads.

As far as being run over by an individual using a cell phone, well, I don't try to confuse potentiality for actuality.

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Yes, well, it's a shocking idea. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Think of all the auto accidents this would prevent. As is often said, if it saves just one life, wouldn't it be worth it?

I do think that this is an appropriate measure, after all what is in the best interest in the community is of up-most importance, right?

If I may make an integration on the subject of saving lives while operating machinery, I had heard that an oil-rig had a deadly

explosion, so I think it is necessary to ban all oil-rigging. ALso, too, baning the flying of private planes is an appropriate

action to help prevent terrorism. Think of the lives that could be saved!

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Yes, well, it's a shocking idea. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Another possibility would be to get rid of all forms of private transportation entirely, having public transportation exclusively. Then, only a relatively few drivers would be required to be fitted with such a technology and endure such technological management. Given that the Postal Service is having such trouble making a profit, we could let the Postal Service get involved. The teacher's union could also get involved. Think of all the auto accidents this would prevent. As is often said, if it saves just one life, wouldn't it be worth it?

Or, as long as we're going to permit individual's to own their own vehicles and drive (after all, isn't driving a privilege, granted by the state, and not a right?), we could require a "buddy system" whereby no driver could ever drive alone. Each driver's "buddy" (licensed by the state as perhaps an "Official Buddy Driver") could monitor the driver's performance and slap the driver, or some such, if ever his attention seems to be wondering. This could do wonders for the current unemployment numbers.

I want to say this is cynical, but I can see it happening. :(
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And your point is ...What, exactly?

Or has sardonic parody become the latest fashion in rational debate ? (seeing as there is an earlier instance of it over in M. and E.)

I thought my point is pretty obvious. Your argument could be applied to -anything-. Does that mean that we should make everything illegal? Seems like it, if you want to claim your argument to be a valid reason to make DUI illegal.

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I want to say this is cynical, but I can see it happening. :(

Sorry. I was being facetious, perhaps cynical(?), but yes, sadly, I can see such things, and worse, being seriously suggested and acted upon.

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The tactic of opposing DUI on the basis of absurdums like not drinking a coke while driving is missing the fact that driving is a task of a certain level of demands on one's hands and feet and attention. The frequency with which one must check the road, check one's speedometer, rear-view mirror, etc., are factors that can be measured. They can be measured for normal driving circumstances, and, to some degree, in emergency circumstances.

The same can be done for a task such as texting. It can be proven, then, that texting demands too much of one's attention to safely text and drive. As for blue-tooth phone conversations, I believe that except for very brief ones, they are a definite danger. The conversation requires the driver to turn his attention to a whole different part of reality. It has long been proven that "multi-tasking" is actually turning one's attention quickly from one thing to another. Changing focus such as is required in phone conversations is highly taxing on one's attention. It is too much when even minor complexities of driving arise. Note also that the rules must contemplate all levels of drivers' abilities and attention span.

If you consider it just from the political point of view, the objectivity of setting limits can be overlooked. I do realize that the political argument about preventing harm versus responding when harm occurs is separate from this.

I've come near to an accident a couple of times, due to being in an engrossing conversation with someone in the car. It isn't chiefly a matter of dexterity, so that some people can text and safely steer the car, it is a matter of demands on one's attention, and those demands can be measured experimentally.

-- Mindy

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