Join 3,556 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Welcome to New Jersey: Do not drink and sleep
September 14, 2007 12:31 PM   Subscribe

DUI for NOT Driving while Drunk A New Jersey appellate court yesterday upheld the principle that convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) can be imposed on individuals who were not driving. This is not one of those kooky old laws on the books.
posted by CameraObscura (99 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
His car was running though, even if it was in park.
posted by R. Mutt at 12:35 PM on September 14, 2007


So the guys is supposed to freeze to death, drunk, in his car. Sounds to me like you either turn the engine on or keep on drinkin'!
posted by phaedon at 12:36 PM on September 14, 2007


This law is the same in other states, too. Montana is one example, I think.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 12:37 PM on September 14, 2007


I've actually got a relative who spent years being unable to get into Canada because he was convicted of a DUI - he was drunk, asleep, in the front seat, with his key in the ignition. The car was not on. I'm not sure what state this was in, though.
posted by god hates math at 12:38 PM on September 14, 2007


We're a society that is outright obsessed with punishment.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:39 PM on September 14, 2007 [12 favorites]


He was arrested and forced to make a conditional guilty plea to the charge of DUI

How do they force you to plead guilty to something?
posted by 23skidoo at 12:42 PM on September 14, 2007


The spirit of the offence (geddit?!) is better summed up by the British description: "drunk while in charge of a conveyance". Even if it was stopped, he was in charge of it.
posted by athenian at 12:42 PM on September 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


Just to be clear, this decision is entirely about whether the officer's actions in opening the door to investigate the idling truck were reasonable. There's no discussion about whether you can be guilty of DUI by being drunk in a parked, idling car. In fact, the defendant entered a conditional guilty plea; I'm not sure what that is in New Jersey, but it seems to mean that he reserved his right to appeal the denial of his suppression motion even though he pleaded guilty. The defendant does not appear to have challenged the "DUI while parked" rule, which suggests that the principle is well-settled in NJ (or he had a bad lawyer).
posted by brain_drain at 12:44 PM on September 14, 2007


This is pretty standard. How are we to know the guy in the car had not been driving earlier? I have heard some lawyers say that if you do not have car keys with you, i.e. it is not possible for you to have been driving, you can avoid a DUI.

I have a friend who actually got a DUI while in bed asleep; his then-girlfriend and him had a few drinks, then he went to bed. She foolishly decided to go for some smokes and wrecked at the bottom of his driveway (a steep curving monstrosity that was hard enough to negotiate sober). She wrecks the car and is thrown to the passenger side; the cops come, assume someone else was driving and march up to the house and wake up and arrest my friend. He eventually got the charges dropped, but it was a major hassle.
posted by TedW at 12:45 PM on September 14, 2007


So, in such a situation a person should hop in the passenger seat?
posted by a robot made out of meat at 12:45 PM on September 14, 2007


I believe Wisconsin is also a state that you will get busted if you are drunk with your key in the ignition (even with the car off).

I think police could argue that this suggested 'intent'.
posted by quin at 12:46 PM on September 14, 2007


David Montalvo, 36, found this out as he responsibly tried to sleep off his intoxication in his GMC pickup truck while safely stopped in the parking lot of the Market Place Deli

You can get shitfaced at a deli?
There's a 'rye' joke in there somewhere.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:46 PM on September 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


This is pretty standard. How are we to know the guy in the car had not been driving earlier?

Since when is "how do we know he didn't commit a crime?" sufficient to convict someone of a crime?
posted by callmejay at 12:49 PM on September 14, 2007 [10 favorites]


So the guys is supposed to freeze to death, drunk, in his car. Sounds to me like you either turn the engine on or keep on drinkin'!

If he had died in his car that may have violated a suicide law. I can't believe the Iraqis won't embrace our wonderful freedom.
posted by CameraObscura at 12:50 PM on September 14, 2007


How are we to know the guy in the car had not been driving earlier?

How are we to know that you haven't been stabbing hobos and dumping them in the East River?

I tossed the keys into the back seat when I was sleeping it off a few weeks ago (does this make me a bad person?), but I doubt it would have protected me from such a thing if faced with a determined cop.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:51 PM on September 14, 2007


Recently, I noticed a pickup truck that was parked outside my house had been idling for what seemed like a long time (a hour ?). I looked out the window and could see the driver - an older guy- had his head down on the driver's wheel, windows open, engine running. He wasn't moving. My first thought was ... crap, he's dead. (Or maybe passed out - it was a friday night.) I went over and asked if he was ok, he didn't move. Not good. I knocked on the door, loudly a few times, and eventually he lifted his head. He had been asleep. He wasn't drunk, just an old exhausted working guy. Had he been drunk, or drunk seeming, I'm not sure what I would have done... hopefully taken his keys.
posted by R. Mutt at 12:52 PM on September 14, 2007


This is pretty standard. How are we to know the guy in the car had not been driving earlier?

How do we know that you, TedW, are not a PEDOPHILE? There are reports that at some point in your life you have been seen standing in the vicinity of a child.

Come on, even if this is accepted law, it's wrong. Reasonable doubt? It's a shame that my understanding of the jury selection process is that it basically serves to remove anyone who isn't both malleable to the will of lawyers/judges and an idiot.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 12:52 PM on September 14, 2007


In most states I believe, if you have your key in the ignition and you are drunk, you are nailed.
posted by caddis at 12:53 PM on September 14, 2007


How are we to know the guy in the car had not been driving earlier?

You're right. Guilty! Hey, there's a condom package on the floor of the car; for all we know, he raped someone before driving. Guilty! Did you pay for that gas in your tank sir? Oh, do you have a receipt? Guilty!
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 12:54 PM on September 14, 2007


How do they force you to plead guilty to something?

From what I understand refusing to take a breathalyzer in NJ is, in effect, illegal and that this gentleman pled guilty on the condition that the refusal charge would be thrown out and that he could appeal based on the officer approaching (and opening) his truck without sufficient cause.
posted by otio at 12:56 PM on September 14, 2007


I believe Wisconsin is also a state that you will get busted if you are drunk with your key in the ignition (even with the car off).
My ex-wife was on a jury for a man who was arrested for DUI while sleeping in the back seat of his car that was parked in the street in front of his house. He'd had a few, had a fight with his wife and went to sleep in the car.
My ex refused to vote to convict him, and eventually got the rest of the jury to agree.
posted by Floydd at 12:57 PM on September 14, 2007


This is one of those cases where it would be very helpful to have all the facts. It could be that this guy drove drunk to the location where he was found, knew that the police could prove it, and consequently took a guilty plea. Or his refusal to take the breath test could have been illegal in itself. This information isn't in the record because it isn't relevant to the question of whether the search was legal.

If he was really convicted solely for sleeping drunk in his truck, then the law is pretty bogus, and at minimum this was a poor exercise of prosecutorial and police discretion.
posted by brain_drain at 12:59 PM on September 14, 2007


According to the transcript, his foot was on the accelarator while he was passed out. Sweet! And I can't believe you guys are piling on the patrolman for the arrest. Reasonable doubt has nothing to do with arrests, does it? I'm thinking more along the lines of probable cause - not that probably cause is used as a defense in this case. They are going with the "community caretaking" argument - "I was checking to see if this guy was all right, and he wasn't. I found this guy fucking passed out in the driver's seat with his foot on the accelerator, and I arrested him for DUI." I'm down with that.
posted by phaedon at 12:59 PM on September 14, 2007


This is pretty standard. How are we to know the guy in the car had not been driving earlier?

The burden of proof is a clogged fuel injector in the Formula-1 racer of justice.
posted by spaltavian at 1:00 PM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


To quote a favorite line from a movie I just rewatched last night...

"What is the answer to 99 out of 100 questions?... Money."
posted by Mach3avelli at 1:00 PM on September 14, 2007


Ah, good point about the breathalyzer charge otio. I didn't read that part carefully.
posted by brain_drain at 1:00 PM on September 14, 2007


Mach3avelli: the other 1 is "Pelé in the 1970 World Cup"
posted by athenian at 1:03 PM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


brain_drain: Or his refusal to take the breath test could have been illegal in itself.

Maybe it's different in New Jersey; from what I understood it's not illegal to refuse the breath test; but accepting one is a condition of keeping your license. Maybe this is just my state, but it seems unreasonable that you're legally forced to provide evidence against yourself without a warrant.
posted by spaltavian at 1:03 PM on September 14, 2007


god hates math writes "I've actually got a relative who spent years being unable to get into Canada because he was convicted of a DUI"

Canada will not let you enter if you've had a DUI conviction? Is it applied indefinitely?
posted by krinklyfig at 1:04 PM on September 14, 2007


My ex refused to vote to convict him, and eventually got the rest of the jury to agree.

This is called jury nullification, and everyone should go read that article in case they ever wind up on a jury, and then (as you'll see in the article) remember to pretend to the judges and lawyers, and possibly even the other jurors, that you've never heard of it.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 1:05 PM on September 14, 2007 [4 favorites]


This is pretty common, and ridiculous.

The basic purpose of DUI laws is to prevent car accidents. So, obviously we don't want people driving around while drunk. But what if someone sees the cops, and then stops and sits around, how would the cops know if he was actually driving?

Since they can't prove that case, they change, laws are changed so that you can be arrested just for being in a car drunk while not driving it.

Then laws are changed again, to allow anyone to be arrested if they are around their cars and have the keys, etc.

The purpose of the change in law was to get people who were 'obviously' guilty of driving on the roads.

Quite stupid, IMO.
posted by delmoi at 1:05 PM on September 14, 2007


Drunk driver kills grandmother in collision, keeps drivers license.
posted by carsonb at 1:06 PM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


but it seems unreasonable that you're legally forced to provide evidence against yourself without a warrant.

Roadblocks.
posted by phaedon at 1:07 PM on September 14, 2007


In Canada I've always heard of it referred to as "operating a motor vehicle under the influence", whereas you don't need to be driving to operate a car, playing with the radio is sufficient.
posted by blue_beetle at 1:08 PM on September 14, 2007


Well, I think those are unreasonable too, phaedon.
posted by spaltavian at 1:08 PM on September 14, 2007


I'm more underwhelmed by the "reasonable doubt"-ertrons in this thread than I am with the idea that, what the hell is a drunk person, away from home and in 23 degree weather, supposed to do, other than hop in his car and warm up? I see no criminal intent, and moreso, this guy might have had no options. Moreover, this guy could have driven somewhere. And the idea that the law does not distinguish between a guy driving drunk, and passing out in his car to avoid driving drunk, is fucking uncharitable, man.
posted by phaedon at 1:14 PM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


god hates math writes "I've actually got a relative who spent years being unable to get into Canada because he was convicted of a DUI"

Good on Canada. That seems like a very fair retribution for all those people who are unable to get into the USA because of a pot conviction.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:15 PM on September 14, 2007


In Canada, it's enough to be in possession of your keys while in your car (and intoxicated). Car doesn't need to be on, keys don't need to be in the ignition, you don't even need to be in the driver seat. You actually have to hide your keys.

DUI prosecution, in general, is becoming somewhat of a witchhunt. (And yet, I haven't hit a roadblock in 2 years now... I guess I'm just learning to dodge them.) I can't help but feel we're approaching the problem in entirely the wrong way.

My personal theory is that the drinking age needs to be significantly lower than the driving age: I'd like people to learn to handle their booze before we put them in control of thousands of pounds of metal. People are always going to drink and drive, for the exact reason it's a bad idea: alcohol impairs your judgement. Duh?
posted by mek at 1:17 PM on September 14, 2007 [3 favorites]


DUI prosecution, in general, is becoming somewhat of a witchhunt.

Unless you're a cop, of course.
He was probably at a delicatessen, too.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 1:30 PM on September 14, 2007


Canada will not let you enter if you've had a DUI conviction? Is it applied indefinitely?

You know, I'm not sure about how Canada applies that rule; maybe someone else can chime in. He has (within the last 3 years) been allowed into the country. I'm not sure why, though.
posted by god hates math at 1:35 PM on September 14, 2007


I'm more underwhelmed by the "reasonable doubt"-ertrons in this thread than I am with the idea that, what the hell is a drunk person, away from home and in 23 degree weather, supposed to do, other than hop in his car and warm up?

Call a cab? Call a friend/family member?
Or how about not get shit-faced in the first place when you know you have to drive home?
posted by rocket88 at 1:42 PM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Lesson: If you start driving your car and notice that you are too drunk to drive - keep driving until you are home because if you are caught sleeping it off on the side of the road you are going to get arrested for DUI.

Yeah, that ought to save some lives...
posted by any major dude at 1:45 PM on September 14, 2007 [7 favorites]


Happened to me in fact on a road trip. I was drunk, but the car was not running. I had a pillow in the back seat, had a blanket in my hand, my shoes were off, but the car was on the street and my keys were in my pocket. DUI. Totally out of line.
And after I got processed I got dumped (still drunk) out on the street in the freezing rain. (Could have died. But I eventually found a place to sleep. Kindness of strangers.)
I knew I could win the case, but of course to contest the charge, I’d have to spend far more on a lawyer (didn’t know a soul there) than the fine would cost me not to mention all the time I’d have to take off work and school and drive all the way to where the court hearing was which was about a full day of driving.
So I got pretty much railroaded by the local cops to squeeze fine money out of me.
Funny, I got a flat and a state cop stopped to check me out a few months after I got my license back. He gave me the eye and said “You know you have a DUI” and I said yeah, and told him where I got it. He sort of half smiled knowingly and “Oh. Yeah.” And handed me my DL back.
There’s all sorts of hedging the constitution through some of the riders on these laws. You might not have to use the breathalyzer but if you don’t you lose your DL for a longer period. Or you have to pay more to go to traffic school, but if you don’t it goes on your record and you can lose your license.
And a lot of this is just a matter of money. I know someone who drove drunk at least 10 times, drove on a suspended license, smashed up a mailbox, bunch of other stuff, but because he spread a lot of money around it’s not on his record and he’s still driving hammered.
Matter of time before he kills someone.
But y’know, God forbid someone responsibly sleeps off their buzz without the local cops taking their cut.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:47 PM on September 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


Or how about not get shit-faced in the first place when you know you have to drive home?

Yep, because 0.08, which will get you a DUI, means you're positively shit-faced.
posted by uncleozzy at 1:48 PM on September 14, 2007


So because he refused to take a breathalyzer test, in court it necessarily forced the defense to be that the officer acted inappropriately? On constitutional grounds? He wasn't driving. Whether or not he took the test, the results of it wouldn't have mattered, shouldn't have mattered. And so the cop acted perfectly the whole way through. I don't know, towering over a sleeping stranger until he wakes up in a start to notice you standing there is probably not appropriate. If I had to approach a sleeping stranger I would probably start by speaking loudly from a distance--in order to not put him off guard. But, then again, I don't walk around with a firearm, an incarnation of sovereign power.
posted by nervousfritz at 1:49 PM on September 14, 2007


This is one of those cases where it would be very helpful to have all the facts.

Yeah -- I think they left out the part where he tapped the arresting officer's shoe and later handed out his business card and said "What do you think about that?"
posted by ericb at 1:54 PM on September 14, 2007


Interesting site in the main link. It has a follow-up (with death threats from police officers) to this story about a kid who videotaped a police officer getting way out line and threatening false arrest. I thought it had made MeFi, but I can't find it. I find this far more outrageous than the DUI stuff.
posted by caddis at 1:55 PM on September 14, 2007


Caddis, I never read why the kid had the videotape running in the parking lot? Was he doing it just to fuck with the cop? I listened to the tape and it sounded like the kid was looking for a confrontation. The cop definitely handled it very poorly but these guys get shot at in situtations like that so I can forgive them a little for talking shit to someone who is openly trying to provoke him.
posted by any major dude at 2:06 PM on September 14, 2007


Drunk driver kills grandmother in collision, keeps drivers license.

Interesting thing about that story the driver was actually driving the car As opposed to this case, where the 'driver' was merely idling. It seems rather impossible for a drunk to kill someone by idling their car (Unless they are are in a confined space and their car is from the 70s, dumping Carbon Monoxide)
posted by delmoi at 2:08 PM on September 14, 2007


why the kid had the videotape running in the parking lot?

read the second link. the death threats came first, then the videotape
posted by caddis at 2:16 PM on September 14, 2007


From Caddis' link.
ST. GEORGE — A car-mounted video camera — more commonly used by police than against them — captured a loud and threatening confrontation in this tiny St. Louis County community that left an officer on suspension and the whole world able to listen in.

The picture doesn't show much, but the audio part of the recording, posted on Google Video and YouTube on the Internet, brought more than 300 protest calls to St. George Police Chief Scott Uhrig.

"I was very displeased when I saw the actions on the video," Uhrig said. "My officers are not trained and taught to act like that."
Fascinating. If the guy didn't have the camera, none of this ever would have come to light. I was just thinking the other day that it might be a good idea to install cameras in cars just to record police confrontations, in case anything goes haywire, and it's your word against the cops the cops will always win out, even though they're (obviously) not always right. The only problem is the question of recording voice and video in secret, but maybe that doesn't apply to 'public' places, like around your car.
posted by delmoi at 2:24 PM on September 14, 2007


Ummm, drunk guy in running car = DUI. I'm not sure how this is confusing to anyone.

If you are drunk, call a cab. If you cannot afford a cab, try to work something out with the bartender, or drink at home.
posted by elwoodwiles at 2:32 PM on September 14, 2007


I'm inclined to consider your right to operate a motor vehicle on public roads is a very unique case in law, inasmuch as you're talking about something the vast majority of the public does regardless of age or demographic (unlike gun ownership, say) but simultaneously it provides arguably the most ready-to-hand means to damage property or end someone's or something's life that we as an post-industrial modern society will ever have access to.

Given that, the same criteria I would apply for other laws (ie "you can't prosecute someone for being in a position to do something but not actually doing it" and similar) don't appear to me to be applicable to the issue of motor vehicle operation. With guns, we have possession either illegal or not, but there is no possession-is-illegal equivalent with motor vehicles (unless it's not YOUR motor vehicle) so a bit of leeway and judgement seems reasonable to ensure that someone who is one step away from operating a motor vehicle while impaired is at the very least lawfully removed from that unsafe situation.

Of course, if you are a police officer and find you've got someone so drunk (or belligerent) that they cannot remove the person from that situation lawfully, the ability to charge a person with DUI is their fallback option. This is likely why you'll occasionally see a news story like this, but it's quite rare (and surprisingly so, considering how interesting such cases are, and so they're likely reported as often as they happen, or nearly so.)
posted by davejay at 2:45 PM on September 14, 2007


Sounds like more MADD lobbying efforts have paid off..
posted by drstein at 3:02 PM on September 14, 2007


Interesting site in the main link. It has a follow-up (with death threats from police officers) to this story about a kid who videotaped a police officer getting way out line and threatening false arrest. I thought it had made MeFi, but I can't find it. I find this far more outrageous than the DUI stuff.

Watching the video I feel like that kid was pretty lucky he had a video camera and it was uploading the video (or good bluff about the uploading on his part.)
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 3:07 PM on September 14, 2007


In Oregon, if you're over 0.08 BAC and you're near your car with the keys in your pocket, DUI for you. This smacks of thoughtcrime to me.

It's telling that you get fined and have your license suspended for this instead of imprisonment. Basically the States are taxing drunk driving.
posted by mullingitover at 3:08 PM on September 14, 2007


Fascinating. If the guy didn't have the camera, none of this ever would have come to light.

Welcome to jackboot America, where the bullies wear the badge.
posted by CameraObscura at 3:12 PM on September 14, 2007


In Oregon, if you're over 0.08 BAC and you're near your car with the keys in your pocket, DUI for you.

Note to self: Run away from car, swallow keys and empty pockets.
posted by CameraObscura at 3:15 PM on September 14, 2007


Caddis, I never read why the kid had the videotape running in the parking lot?
"Darrow said he installed the cameras in his Nissan Maxima after past run-ins with police. He said he was involved in a physical confrontation in 2005 with an off-duty St. Louis police officer, in a case Darrow said was later dismissed."
posted by ericb at 3:15 PM on September 14, 2007


Slideshow and television news report regarding Brett Darrow's encounter with officer James Kuehnlein.
posted by ericb at 3:25 PM on September 14, 2007


I have no firm statistical evidence to offer, but I suspect that underlying all this is the fact that fines for DUI are now so steep that convicted offenders amount to 'cash cows' for state and local governments, yielding more money than it costs to arrest and prosecute them on average.
posted by jamjam at 3:33 PM on September 14, 2007


People can dance around the points of law all they want.. the plain and simple fact is that a responsible decision is being punished.

While the full details are slim, I would have to consider nullifying were in on a jury.
posted by MrLint at 3:45 PM on September 14, 2007


"In 2002, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated that 35 percent of all traffic deaths occurred in crashes in which at least one driver or nonoccupant had a BAC of 0.08 percent or more and that any alcohol was present in 41 percent of all fatal crashes in 2002."
posted by MarshallPoe at 3:53 PM on September 14, 2007


Lots of informed posters have chimed in - it's not a novel law, and not confined to the US of A.....

..best 'drunk in charge' story I've got is this: Punter goes to a sports game, parks car, gets drunk.

Comes back, shitfaced, and tries to drive car away. Can't, because it's been clamped (it was illegally parked). He's too drunk to notice, and is revving the engine like crazy. The car is going nowhere cos there's a big iron clamp on the wheel.

The cops come along, arrest him and charge him with being drunk in charge of a motor vehicle.

He's acquited, because, at the time he was in charge of the vehicle, although his keys were in the ignition, it wasn't capable of being driven.
posted by tiny crocodile at 4:06 PM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is fairly common, I'm surprised people are so upset about it. I had a friend who was tailgating and sitting in the gate section of the SUV, with his legs dangling out. The keys were in the ignition, he wasn't the driver, but as he was the only one actually in the car, as the rest were in those fold out chair, he got a DUI. It is ridiculous, but the idea is to never let the cops even have a reason to arrest you. When there's alcohol involved and there's a question of who is right, it will always be the cops.


"In 2002, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated that 35 percent of all traffic deaths occurred in crashes in which at least one driver or nonoccupant had a BAC of 0.08 percent or more and that any alcohol was present in 41 percent of all fatal crashes in 2002."


Yes, but look at how many of those are repeat offenders or who had BAC over .15.

Again, whether we like it or not, BAC of .08 means one drink. I had a friend who had one Stella, as he was the designated driver, and blew a .07. The oft stated adage is to never have even one drink and drive. I don't believe this impairs anyone, but it is now the law.
posted by geoff. at 4:12 PM on September 14, 2007


the plain and simple fact is that a responsible decision is being punished.

Please, responsible decision doesn't matter, nor has it mattered for a long time. I can make a responsible decision about a lot of choices, and it remains illegal.
posted by geoff. at 4:15 PM on September 14, 2007


A link would be good, MarshallPoe, but until you provide one, I'm calling bullshit.
posted by Kwantsar at 4:32 PM on September 14, 2007


So if I am drunk and standing near a cliff, does that make me guilty of suicide?
posted by thetruthisjustalie at 4:35 PM on September 14, 2007


i always think it's funny how, considering any drug besides alcohol, the prevailing wisdom is: "it's freedom of choice. if you don't want to become an addict, don't do the drugs."

when it comes to booze, though, there's all kinds of logical backflipping going on; people trying to work out why it's ok to be stranded in a deli parking lot, hammered, in the middle of winter.

unless his buddies tied him down and poured booze down his throat, he made a bad choice and paid for it. too bad.

you drive somewhere? you don't drink. period.
posted by klanawa at 4:38 PM on September 14, 2007


"In 2002, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated that 35 percent of all traffic deaths occurred in crashes in which at least one driver or nonoccupant had a BAC of 0.08 percent or more and that any alcohol was present in 41 percent of all fatal crashes in 2002."

That doesn't really say anything about the propriety of the 0.08 BAC. I mean, if 34.99% of all traffic deaths occurred in crashes in which at least one driver had a BAC of over 0.12, then it would hardly be worthwhile to punish people who had a BAC or 0.12- 0.08.

The question is how much road carnage is caused by people with a BAC between 0.08 and 0.10 (the old limit)

And really, it should be obvious that the BAC of non-occupants is totally beside the point

It would also be helpful to see how many deaths were caused by drunks who were not driving, but only near or in their immobile car.
posted by delmoi at 4:41 PM on September 14, 2007


i always think it's funny how, considering any drug besides alcohol, the prevailing wisdom is: "it's freedom of choice. if you don't want to become an addict, don't do the drugs."

when it comes to booze, though, there's all kinds of logical backflipping going on; people trying to work out why it's ok to be stranded in a deli parking lot, hammered, in the middle of winter.
I have no idea what you're trying to say here. Alcohol is legal and other drugs are not. That's the difference, although I personally think other drugs should be legal as well.
posted by delmoi at 4:43 PM on September 14, 2007


Ummm, drunk guy in running car = DUI. I'm not sure how this is confusing to anyone.

Ummm, the "D" in DUI stands for "driving" not "idling/sleeping" in case that was confusing.
posted by tristeza at 4:49 PM on September 14, 2007


This depresses me. If he had drove home, he likely wouldn't have gotten arrested. He's being punished for making a choice that put himself and others in a much safer situation.
posted by tehloki at 5:02 PM on September 14, 2007


MarshallPoe writes "'In 2002, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated that 35 percent of all traffic deaths occurred in crashes in which at least one driver or nonoccupant had a BAC of 0.08 percent or more and that any alcohol was present in 41 percent of all fatal crashes in 2002.'"

Well with only 35 percent of accidents being caused by the inebriated, they obviously have a better record than the sober team.
posted by mullingitover at 5:04 PM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Fact: DUI laws are apparently in place to keep drunks from driving and hitting people.

Fact: Its very difficult to be hit by a parked vehicle.

Conclusion: If people are being arrested for DUI's in a parked vehicle, it must not be to protect innocents from being hit, but for some other reason.
posted by Avenger at 5:05 PM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


geoff. writes "Again, whether we like it or not, BAC of .08 means one drink."

That's simply not true. For an average person, that means four drinks are still in your system. By your logic, blowing a .24 means you've had three drinks (it might be hard to blow a .24, because you might not even be conscious). You can blow much higher right after having a drink, which is why breathalyzers are often taken at the station, usually an hour after the initial contact with the officer.

The one DUI I was convicted of was over 15 years ago, and I was seriously trashed after a Super Bowl party, where I drank about a 12-pack of beer and several shots of tequila. I didn't even know where I was when I was pulled over (I don't remember leaving the party). I blew a .12 (the legal limit was .10 at the time). My tolerance was pretty high in those days, and my metabolism worked overtime, but even back then I doubt I ever got to .15 without passing out, normally considered the equivalent of almost 8 drinks in your system at a time. Obviously, I could drink more than eight drinks, but the BAC measures alcohol in the system, and what's been metabolized is gone.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:09 PM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Avenger writes "Fact: DUI laws are apparently in place to keep drunks from driving and hitting people.

"Fact: Its
very difficult to be hit by a parked vehicle.

"Conclusion: If people are being arrested for DUI's in a parked vehicle, it must not be to protect innocents from being hit, but for some other reason."


The conclusion is begging the question. DUI laws are in place to extract money from the population of drivers where possible. They occasionally have the side effect of preventing drunks from driving and hitting people.

Most traffic laws are actually taxes.
posted by mullingitover at 5:11 PM on September 14, 2007


Well with only 35 percent of accidents being caused by the inebriated, they obviously have a better record than the sober team.


The real question is why does MarshallPoe get his statistics from the same 1989 punk rock son that you get your jokes from?


"I say don't drink and drive
You might spill your drink
Before you get behind
That wheel, just stop and think

You can take your chances
But there's so much to lose
Another bumpy road,
There's so much wasted booze.
I'm not so worried
About how many I kill
I'm much more concerned
With how much beer I spill.

35% of accidents
Are caused by pixilated
The other 65% are not
Alcohol related.
What does this tell us
About the drunk drivers
They seem to have a
Better record than
The sober team."

NOFX - You Drink, You Drive, You Spill
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 5:20 PM on September 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


One of my friends spent a night in a Jersey slammer last year. She was put there for driving under the influence of what she later realized was a roofie. As if I needed more reasons to never get foot in Jersey again.
posted by honeydew at 5:50 PM on September 14, 2007


35 percent of all traffic deaths occurred in crashes in which at least one driver or nonoccupant had a BAC of 0.08 percent or more

What a misleading statistic. I have been professionally involved in this area at one time and it was clear, and the statistics support although these are hard to find, that the accidents with personal injury, the ones caused by alcohol, are from big drunks who generally are twice or more than the .08 level. Guys I worked with were more like .20 to .30 or more. The effort to keep dropping the limit and all the rest is just window dressing. If you really want to make a difference, you will address the really big drinkers, with treatment for their problems, with options for their driving and with more effective removal of their driving.

So many of the people causing PI accidents are folks who have already had their license removed. In most parts of the country that means no travel, period, none. Well, that won't work. No wonder they violate this, despite the penalty. They are not going to stay home and if you rely on them to voluntarily comply it could cost you your life.

Given the absolutely high percentage of illegal drivers any weekend night at late hours the issue is not laws, enforcement, etc. it is the transportation system. If this were a six sigma process we would ditch focus on the driver and instead focus on the transportation failings. Lots of people drink, and lots of people drink way too much to drive. How are we going to get them home. That is an easier problem to solve than how to get them to drink less. The best we have come up with so far is a designated driver. BZZZZZT, loser! You don't even get a pink belt.

Madison, WI had something pretty cool when I lived there. Get drunk in a bar, get a card from the bartender, call a cab, get home and back the next morning for free (although tips were appreciated), paid for by the bar owners association or something. That is a nice start, but so many of the drunks in Madison are at private parties. I never had occasion to take advantage of this (Madison is a great walking city) but something along these lines will save more lives than any random drunk check ever will. Well, that and some pretty heavy intervention into the lives of the big boozers.

All of our efforts lately seem to be increasing the focus on the casual drinker who is hardly likely to cause harm without addressing the big boozers who kill us and the ones we love. Get them off the road, off the booze, and give them travel options so they stay away from driving. That will save my life. Busting some woman (and the current laws are hardest on them) after having two or three beers without really eating at happy hour will likely not save my life. Giving Lucious Lush a ride home after 15 beers at Moes just might.
posted by caddis at 5:53 PM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


you put your keys next to (but not touching) the inside wheel well of your back tire and then you sleep it off.
posted by Mick at 6:06 PM on September 14, 2007


TedW writes "I have heard some lawyers say that if you do not have car keys with you, i.e. it is not possible for you to have been driving, you can avoid a DUI."
&
quin writes "I believe Wisconsin is also a state that you will get busted if you are drunk with your key in the ignition (even with the car off)."

This is how it works in BC. My uncle is a mountie and he advised us to put our keys under a wheel or in the air cleaner before we started drinking.

krinklyfig writes "Canada will not let you enter if you've had a DUI conviction? Is it applied indefinitely?"

Entry to Canada is at the discretion of the customs officer. They can refuse you for any reason but especially for any indictable (read US felony) offence, which DUI can be, even if it isn't where you got your DUI. They can also let you in even if you are an axe murderer. They even let people attempting to traffic in illegal arms to enter after seizing the weapons.

mek writes "In Canada, it's enough to be in possession of your keys while in your car (and intoxicated). Car doesn't need to be on, keys don't need to be in the ignition, you don't even need to be in the driver seat. You actually have to hide your keys."

Definitely the case in BC.

delmoi writes "And really, it should be obvious that the BAC of non-occupants is totally beside the point"

They are talking about drunks who wonder out onto roadways.
posted by Mitheral at 6:09 PM on September 14, 2007


Most alcohol-related accidents are caused by people that already have at least one DUI on their record. The killers are the alcoholics and the repeat offenders. Arresting and fining people sleeping in their cars saves zero lives. This is extremely poor law-enforcement policy.
posted by kavasa at 6:12 PM on September 14, 2007


Given the absolutely high percentage of illegal drivers any weekend night at late hours the issue is not laws, enforcement, etc. it is the transportation system. If this were a six sigma process we would ditch focus on the driver and instead focus on the transportation failings. Lots of people drink, and lots of people drink way too much to drive. How are we going to get them home.

I was going to make this point and I'm thrilled someone else brought it up. The dependence of the North American lifestyle on the automobile, and our relatively high rate of car accidents, correlate very neatly. Having lived in an extremely rural area, let me tell you - once you leave the city, DUI isn't a crime, it's a way of life. (Of course, it helps that you can count the number of cars you pass on one hand.) DUI becomes a problem in high-traffic situations - intersections, highways, etc. Remove the need/desire to drive in these environments after drinking, and you've solved the problem.

There should be effective, affordable transit systems in all of our major cities... but intelligent design never made it to urban planning in NA. I live in Vancouver, which supposedly has an excellent transit system (for NA)... but bus service to my neighbourhood ends at midnight, and the cost of fare has doubled in less than 10 years. We have everyone living in suburbs and all the bars/clubs in the city center, because we've designed our lives around the car. This is as much to blame as anything for our automobile fatality troubles.
posted by mek at 7:11 PM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wow; just returned to the thread to see that not everyone thinks busting people who are drunk in cars but not driving is good. I was merely pointing out the reasoning behind the law/policy, not agreeing with it. For what it's worth, I think DUI laws are an easy way for politicians to score political points and raise money. If they were really serious about making the roads safer, they would fund public transportation, adequately maintain the infrastructure, and make things such as driving without sleep and talking on the cell phone (both of which have been shown in tests to produce impairment comparable to drinking) just as illegal as DUI. On the last point, we just had a man fall asleep at the wheel driving home from working the graveyard shift who hit a schoolbus and sent a few children to the hospital. Anyway, the whole issue of driving and impairment is not as simplistic as many people make it.

If anyone else gives me grief, I will go to MeTa and threaten to leave-then you'll really be sorry.
posted by TedW at 7:13 PM on September 14, 2007


mek writes "bus service to my neighbourhood ends at midnight, and the cost of fare has doubled in less than 10 years."

Too be fair the cost of operating a motor vehicle has probably doubled in the last ten years too.

TedW writes "make things such as driving without sleep and talking on the cell phone (both of which have been shown in tests to produce impairment comparable to drinking) just as illegal as DUI."

However there aren't fool proof, ungameable tests that'll prove sleep or attention impairment.
posted by Mitheral at 7:45 PM on September 14, 2007


However there aren't fool proof, ungameable tests that'll prove sleep or attention impairment.

The breathalyzer is neither foolproof nor ungameable, although it is pretty reliable as medicolegal tests go. On the other hand, it is certainly possible to devise tests for other forms of impairment if we wanted to. And cell phone records provide a ready source of evidence if society decides to crack down on those who would rather talk than drive.
posted by TedW at 8:05 PM on September 14, 2007


In New Jersey, a person with a BAC of 0.08% or greater who operates a motor vehicle or a boat is considered to be driving under the influence (DUI).

the important word here is OPERATES

the car was running and he was therefore operating it whether he was driving or not

even if he had the engine off and was fiddling with the radio, he would still be operating it

that's how the law is in my state, too
posted by pyramid termite at 8:38 PM on September 14, 2007


How do you beat a properly given breathalyser? Even the sloppy scientist guys on mythbusters couldn't.
posted by Mitheral at 9:04 PM on September 14, 2007


All of our efforts lately seem to be increasing the focus on the casual drinker who is hardly likely to cause harm without addressing the big boozers who kill us and the ones we love. Get them off the road, off the booze, and give them travel options so they stay away from driving. That will save my life. Busting some woman (and the current laws are hardest on them) after having two or three beers without really eating at happy hour will likely not save my life. Giving Lucious Lush a ride home after 15 beers at Moes just might.

That's exactly why Candy Lightner left Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the organization she herself founded. When MADD started to do things like lobby for lowering the maximum legal BAC, she resigned. She's since called them neo-prohibitionist, and said that "police ought to be concentrating their resources on arresting drunk drivers—not those drivers who happen to have been drinking."

(Actually, I found one article that said she was ousted, but the point's still the same.)

I also agree about the problem being one of transportation. In large Texas cities like Austin and Houston and Dallas, where late-night public transportation is all but nonexistent and a twenty-minute cab ride to your house is pretty expensive (though still not as expensive as a DWI), the drunk-driving problem is pretty rampant.

You'd think it'd be easy to come up with some sort of sleep-it-off-in-your-car law, like allowing it if you're parked in the lot of a bar you've patronized. But I suppose it's more financially beneficial to fine people than to help them avoid the problem in the first place.
posted by bluishorange at 11:30 PM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


You know, a comparison between this thread and the recent second hand smoking thread is a real hoot. Robust evidence that reducing the blood alcohol level reduces motoring accidents/deaths/etc. is treated with scepticism, while dubious evidence on the relationship between second hand smoke and cancer is treated like holy writ.

Your favourite drug kills. Mine is safe as houses.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:42 AM on September 15, 2007 [2 favorites]


what PeterMcDermott said
posted by caddis at 4:58 AM on September 15, 2007


The one DUI I was convicted of was over 15 years ago, and I was seriously trashed after a Super Bowl party, where I drank about a 12-pack of beer and several shots of tequila. I didn't even know where I was when I was pulled over (I don't remember leaving the party). I blew a .12 (the legal limit was .10 at the time).

Interestingly, the limit in the UK is 0.35, 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath (or 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood).

This would seem at odds with your experience, unless US breathylisers convert to BAC automatically.
posted by asok at 9:09 AM on September 15, 2007


From March 2006: Drunk driving cases turn on source code. Breath test company refuses to disclose code, to defense lawyers' delight.

From last Friday: Breathalyser source code causes legal standoff.
posted by ericb at 9:39 AM on September 15, 2007


Interesting articles bluishorange, thanks.
posted by mek at 10:49 AM on September 15, 2007


Wait, wait, I remember seeing this on Everybody Loves Raymond.
posted by Robert Angelo at 11:25 AM on September 15, 2007


I don't think that's really gaming the test ericb. It's more gaming the evidence/trial process. Even if it results in hundreds of cases being thrown out today going forward the police departments can just require full disclosure before buying any testing unit.
posted by Mitheral at 1:33 PM on September 15, 2007


This link is a pretty good (funny) way to do damage to yourself or your own vehicle without actually moving while drunk in your car.
posted by jeffmik at 11:18 PM on September 15, 2007


I'm pretty sure that in the UK you can be clobbered by the long arm of the law if you are in posession of your keys whilst in your car (asleep or otherwise), and you are over the legal limit...

Probably something to do with intent to drive whilst inebriated, or somesuch.
posted by Chunder at 4:45 AM on September 17, 2007


« Older Oroboros....  |  Someone call John Hughes!... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments