"Repoman, who is Emilio Estevez's doppelgänger, teaches #34 how to slimjim & hotwire a car."
November 28, 2009 6:00 AM   Subscribe

Roger Avary, Oscar-winning screenwriter for Pulp Fiction and many other films, pled guilty to gross vehicular manslaughter and drunken driving, following a crash that killed a passenger in his car in 2008. This September, he began to serve his sentence of one year in jail (followed by five years of probation). Naturally, he also began tweeting about it. The bleak literary quality of his tweets (in which he refers to himself only as "#34") caught the attention of Mark Millan at the LA Times -- and shortly thereafter, of the authorities.

Avary had in fact been serving his time on a work-furlough program, spending nights and weekends in custody; he is now in jail full-time. (via)
posted by Countess Elena (150 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Work-furlough is going to look pretty sweet, in retrospect.

The U.S. Senate has been looking into passing a nationwide ban on cellphones in prison using service jammers.
Huh? Prisoners can have cell phones?

posted by R. Mutt at 6:19 AM on November 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'd be more upset about the crackdown if I could find any content that didn't smack of self-rigteous self-pity.

So sorry you lost your "first amendment rights" after murdering your friend, that must be so inconvenient for you.

However, I think they should let him continue, so the family of the victim can subscribe to the RSS feed and stay up do date on Avary's suffering.

I also like how he thinks he's copyrighting his tweets with that single line in his bio.
posted by Mr. Anthropomorphism at 6:21 AM on November 28, 2009 [7 favorites]


Yeah, unless I'm missing something here, he's just full of shit. No regrets or even a "well I did fuck up and caused someone's death" in sight either?
posted by Iosephus at 6:23 AM on November 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


Prisoners can have cell phones?

They're not supposed to, but people smuggle them in.
posted by pmurray63 at 6:28 AM on November 28, 2009


Huh? Prisoners can have cell phones?

No, but they can't have drugs either, yet they still manage to get hold of them. I think the point is that jamming the signal is simpler than stopping the smuggling in of contraband cell phones.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:30 AM on November 28, 2009


Even with the melodramatic tone, I don't really see anything unexpected or out of line. Guards keep prisoners under strict control? Gasp and shock!

Dude freakin' killed someone through his own carelessness and poor judgement, and now he's whining because the guards' flashlights are too bright?

On the other hand, it's a pretty good example of how little anyone "learns" from the supposed reforming effect of punishment. I suppose he's learned how to refer to himself in the abstract third person...
posted by Scattercat at 6:31 AM on November 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


When his posts were pointed out (by Gawker too) a few weeks or so ago, I took a look at them and thought "You know, every friend of mine I've known who has been in jail or prison, no matter their creative ability or intelligence, has always come up with more interesting observations -- both while they were there and even many years later. Most of Avery's read like somebody tweeting about what they think prison would be like." But I just thought this was weird and thought that it made him seem like a hack, but I never considered that he wasn't actually there. Again, just weird.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 6:32 AM on November 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


You know, the man apparently accidentally killed a friend of his. I think both he and the victim's family deserve compassion. Neil Gaiman's quick take on it at the time.
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:32 AM on November 28, 2009 [8 favorites]


Am I to believe the tweets of some Hollywood guy are egocentric?
posted by belvidere at 6:34 AM on November 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wow. I guess you really can communicate a lot in 140-character bursts. Who knew?
posted by kipmanley at 6:38 AM on November 28, 2009


Reading between the lines, which is all you can really do when information is this sketchy, is the idea that Roger Avary is the James Frey of Twitter? I can see why the authorities would be pissed if there's a famous person busy telling the world this prison is a gulag, and doubly so if he hasn't actually spent much time in the prison, but it seems odd that he's apparently now being punished for that rather than, say, gross vehicular manslaughter.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:41 AM on November 28, 2009 [11 favorites]


Medieval Maven, yeah he accidentally killed his friend after accidentally drinking excessively and then accidentally getting behind the wheel. What are the odds?! He's a victim of circumstance!
posted by Mr. Anthropomorphism at 6:45 AM on November 28, 2009 [12 favorites]


Yeah, unless I'm missing something here, he's just full of shit. No regrets or even a "well I did fuck up and caused someone's death" in sight either?
Yes, if someone doesn't express their regret with every sentence they utter, they obviously don't feel bad.
So sorry you lost your "first amendment rights" after murdering your friend, that must be so inconvenient for you.

However, I think they should let him continue, so the family of the victim can subscribe to the RSS feed and stay up do date on Avary's suffering.
What the hell? If they were close friends I doubt the family would really want to see him suffer. Not everyone is so randomly vicious, and almost no one is when it comes to people they actually know and like.

What a bunch of self-righteous nonsense.
posted by delmoi at 6:46 AM on November 28, 2009 [38 favorites]


I guess he'll have something to tweet about now. My sympathy is limited, and if he was getting some kind of special friend-of-hollywood deal before, I'm not sorry to see his tweeting ruin it for him.
posted by Forktine at 6:47 AM on November 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


from his tweet: "#34 is "rolled up" to a higher security facility for exercising his first amendment rights. The truth he has discovered is too dangerous."

So he somehow got a better situation than he was supposed to (day furlough instead of 24/7 jail), but then drew attention to himself by tweeting about it. And now the preferential treatment has been fixed. That doesn't sound like a first amendment issue to me.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 7:05 AM on November 28, 2009 [5 favorites]


Not everyone is so randomly vicious, and almost no one is when it comes to people they actually know and like

You know, it's possible to know and like somebody right up until they kill your relative, but after that point I don't think wishing them ill should necessarily be described as "random."

Maybe I'm less compassionate than some, and I greatly respect anyone who claims they could feel compassion if placed in the role of the victim's family, but don't make me a monster for taking issue with the dude whining about the conditions of his one year jail sentence.
posted by Mr. Anthropomorphism at 7:15 AM on November 28, 2009 [5 favorites]


Iosephus : Yeah, unless I'm missing something here, he's just full of shit. No regrets or even a "well I did fuck up and caused someone's death" in sight either?

People, whether they really did something or not (and whether they really did something worthy of living in a cage for a few years or not) don't think like that. They move on with their lives - Yes, killing his friend probably disturbs him greatly, but right now he has more pressing issues to focus on.

Once you've gotten smacked by Uncle Sam, remorse amounts to a waste of time (except before the parole board). Serve your time and move on.

Now, should we feel sorry for this guy? Well, in a way, yes. Thanks to the demonizing work of groups like MADD, in mnay ways his friend got the lighter sentence. I don't expect many to agree with me on that, but can say that personally, I would rather DIAF than spend even a year in prison.
posted by pla at 7:16 AM on November 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


Obviously many Mefites feel that it is poor form to show sympathy for people that make mistakes which lead to horrible consequences.

Everyone here is pure and perfect and if they ever make a mistake they will take their punishment with a stoicism and humility to make the gods weep.
posted by oddman at 7:17 AM on November 28, 2009 [40 favorites]


Scattercat : On the other hand, it's a pretty good example of how little anyone "learns" from the supposed reforming effect of punishment.

Although I obviously can't defend his conscious choice to drink and drive, the outcome in this case most certainly does amount to an instance of extremely bad luck. Blaming him for manslaughter (of a person who consciously chose to get in the car with him) amounts to nothing more than a red flag of how badly our legal system has broken.

He has nothing to rehabilitate from, with the exception of making sure he doesn't have a problem with alcohol (and no, the simple fact that he got drunk and went for a ride doesn't make him an alcoholic, it just means he had poor judgment while drunk).

Putting him in prison amounts to a purely punishment-oriented action. At best, he'll get out as the same person that went in but a year older. And at worst, well, his tweets pretty much show that far from learning from his mistakes, we as a society have very kindly paid for his education from his fellow inmates.
posted by pla at 7:28 AM on November 28, 2009 [7 favorites]


> You know, it's possible to know and like somebody right up until they kill your relative, but after that point I don't think wishing them ill should necessarily be described as "random."

I guess one's level of forgiveness would depend on the circumstances. Pro hockey player Dany Heatley was convicted of vehicular manslaughter following an accident in which the passenger of the car he was driving, a friend and teammate named Dan Snyder, was killed. Snyder's family forgave Heatley;

>"Nowhere were intentions to have a car accident and get Dan critically injured. He was the driver, but those were not his intentions. If someone is going out to rob a bank and they bring a gun, but they only intend to use it if they have to and someone gets in their way and they shoot them, there was intention there. I might be a little bit ticked-off and reacting different, if there was intent to what happened. Dany didn't intend for Dan to be so seriously injured. He didn't intend for him to die. That's the way we have to look at it. That's an important word for me: intent. He was the driver and ultimately responsible. But he didn't intend for that to happen."
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:36 AM on November 28, 2009 [9 favorites]


I don't know, such wanton carelessness sure seems like "intent" to not give much of a shit about possible consequences to me.
posted by adamdschneider at 7:45 AM on November 28, 2009


Now, should we feel sorry for this guy? Well, in a way, yes. Thanks to the demonizing work of groups like MADD, in mnay ways his friend got the lighter sentence.

Oh, yes. Let's fight the real enemy: Mothers Against Drunk Driving. This is a joke, right?

I feel sorry for him because he got his friend killed, which must be a terrible thing to live with. But the fact remains that he did get his friend killed, and could have as easily killed your friend, or my friend, or you or me or a kid or anybody who happened to stumble across his intoxicated path. The only thing that kept another person from being killed was chance. He didn't intend to kill anybody, but he didn't intend not to kill anybody, either. I'm not sure what the proper consequences are here. But I do know that the guiltier party is not a group that has spent decades actively campaigning against the kind of idiot behavior that got this man's friend killed. I'm pretty sure they're off the hook for this one.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:47 AM on November 28, 2009 [8 favorites]


I would be self-righteous if I were spouting shit like "he deserved the whole sentence", or "famous people treatment OMG!", or even "ha ha loser got his twits fed back to him". All I say is that IMHO he tried a somewhat self-indulgent way of going about the whole thing. In that regard, and to his lack of prudence with the whole posting, overdramatic closing post and a certainly stretching-things-out feel I tend to get with fuckups of the kind of his boozed-up car crash, I thought he was a bit full of it.

I'm fine on the sympathy deparment, thank you. I also fully agree that he doesn't look like the kind of case jail would do any good for, which should prompt some thought about what the hell to do with these situations instead. I'd happily buy Avery a beer on his day out, volunteer to kick in the balls anyone giving him grief in the future after he complied with the societal sentence, but still tell him in kind terms: "Dude, that twitter thing? You were a bit full of it, sorry."
posted by Iosephus at 7:50 AM on November 28, 2009


You know, it's possible to know and like somebody right up until they kill your relative, but after that point I don't think wishing them ill should necessarily be described as "random."

No, but your little outburst was kind of random.

but don't make me a monster for taking issue with the dude whining about the conditions of his one year jail sentence.

I would hardly call you monster, just self-righteous and trite.

(Also the fact that his sentence was only one year indicates the victims family didn't push for a longer sentence.)
posted by delmoi at 7:53 AM on November 28, 2009 [5 favorites]


adamdschneider : I don't know, such wanton carelessness sure seems like "intent" to not give much of a shit about possible consequences to me.

That has always counted as a peeve of mine. We consider alcohol so significantly impairing of the faculties that we have laws against who can make it and how and how much; who can sell it and when and how much; who can buy it and when and how much; who can use it and when and where and how much; and what they can do after using it.

Put simply, we accept without question that alcohol can lead to doing stupid things. Sometimes you wake up covered in green fluorescent marker. Sometimes you wake up next to a triple-bagger. And sometimes you wake up handcuffed to a bed in the ER, hopefully for something stupid like swimming naked in a fountain, but sometimes because you ran over a nun escorting an orphan and her puppy.

Considering all that, I really have a hard time using terms like "intent" to describe situations like this. I know the standard comeback to that - He "chose" to drink in the first place - And call it out as complete and utter BS. People don't die every time I have a beer, simple as that.

I can even understand the need to punish him (spare me any pretenses of "rehabilitation", more complete BS in 99% of situations) to send a message to society. But as far as any actual intent or responsibility goes, sorry, but just not there.
posted by pla at 7:58 AM on November 28, 2009 [6 favorites]


He's a prick. (but then again, so am I--does that mean I should empathize?)
posted by Joseph Gurl at 7:59 AM on November 28, 2009


> Although I obviously can't defend his conscious choice to drink and drive, the outcome in this case most certainly does amount to an instance of extremely bad luck.

I'd say he was relatively lucky. The person who was killed as a result of his conscious choice to drink and drive was a friend who had willingly entered his car despite knowing Avary had been drinking, and whose family was not inclined to push for the harshest punishment allowable under the law. What if Avary had hit and killed someone else?
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:04 AM on November 28, 2009


MADD did start out as a noble group, but even its founder Candy Lightner has distanced herself from them - all their actions in the past 20 years or so have been about making alcohol laws tougher rather than providing ideas for alternative transportation for people who have had too much to drink.

But back to the main subject - I do wish Roger Avary sounded a little less self-pitying in these tweets. All this self-reflection and yet... no self-reflection? My dad was killed by a drunk driver who wound up having to spend a year or so in prison, and in her court-mandated "apology" letter at the end of her sentence, she still managed to blame the accident on my dad, who she swore must have jumped the light. Talk about not learning anything.
posted by queensissy at 8:05 AM on November 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


Neil Gaiman: "I'm worried about all of them. Worried about Gretchen and their kids, worried about the family of their poor friend, and worried about Roger (who, it's probably worth mentioning, I've known well for over a decade, and who barely drinks)."
posted by mecran01 at 8:07 AM on November 28, 2009


He got a one-year sentence. When he gets out, he will still be a famous Hollywood screenwriter. He will still have the connections and resources that a life of privelege affords.

For most people, the stigma of having been incarcerated and the accompanying difficulties with employment and housing are enough to derail a life. Nobody hires ex-offenders, except, of course, if they have an impressive IMDB entry.
posted by Tesseractive at 8:09 AM on November 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


kittens for breakfast : Oh, yes. Let's fight the real enemy: Mothers Against Drunk Driving. This is a joke, right?

No, actually... Or at least, a bad one on all of us.

MADD did a lot of good in their early days, as a group of concerned mothers trying to get drunks off the roads. As with all purpose-driven organizations, however, they needed to extend their crusade to justify their continued existence, once they basically got what they wanted. Now, they fight not for anything so noble as keeping the streets safe, but for nothing short of a return to prohibition.

So the punchline to this "joke" happens every time someone gets arrested for "D"UI while sleeping it off in their backseat; every time a golfer gets busted riding back from the 19th hole in a 5mph golf cart; every time the police waste my time and tax money at "random" sobriety checkpoints (for the record, I do not ever drive after having even the smallest sip, so don't take this solely as a rant of self-interest). Every time the police drive someone to five different stations trying to find the one breathalyzer far enough out of calibration to blow a .08. And don't even get me started on the ads trying to tell people that they can't give their kids wine at the family dinner table.
posted by pla at 8:10 AM on November 28, 2009 [24 favorites]


I know the standard comeback to that - He "chose" to drink in the first place - And call it out as complete and utter BS. People don't die every time I have a beer, simple as that.

This is hilarious in its disingenuousness. Of course people don't die every time you have a beer. However, you've forgotten the operative part: people could well die if you have alcohol and then get behind the wheel of a car. By that logic, anybody who shoots and kills another person isn't responsible, because nobody dies when I flex my finger as though I'm pulling a trigger.
posted by Frobenius Twist at 8:11 AM on November 28, 2009 [8 favorites]


Now, now, now, everybody, let's forget the arguments and accusations and finger-pointing. What is the point of the reading or the reporting of an incident like this, I mean, aside from schadenfreude? We have to draw some lesson from a story like this. There may be some complex lesson about unbalanced ego-tripping and a sort of pathological need to deceive people over the internet. But pathology is a sickness, and if we don't have the sickness, the lesson has no value for us. The simplest lesson we have to learn from the story of the unfortunate Mr. Avary is this: Don't drink. People will say, "You mean, don't drink and drive." But as the comedian Sam Kinison used to say (before he was killed by a drunk driver), "People say don't drink and drive... How am I supposed to get my car home?" If you drink you will (and I know you already have) drive drunk. This puts you at risk of going to jail for an ordinary traffic accident that a sober man or woman would simply be cited for. That's jail, baby. Ouch. The solution to this problem is not to drink. You'd be surprised how easy this is, and how it is not nearly such a devastating loss as you think it might be. The mind compensates. Believe me. It solves a myriad of problems you may never even have known you had. There's nothing to be gained by chewing over Mr. Avary's guilt or innocence or deserts, but a world to be gained by examining our own behavior, and acting on the sharply drawn lessons of experience.
posted by Faze at 8:15 AM on November 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Mr. Anthropomorphism: I also like how he thinks he's copyrighting his tweets with that single line in his bio.

Actually, he doesn't need to copyright them at all, since this is done automatically in the US. Created works are assumed to be under copyright unless released under some other license. The only thing ©2009 give you is the right to bring a case for infringement and receive damages.

I would think he'd be more than covered.

Frome twitter's TOS:
Copyright Policy
Twitter respects the intellectual property rights of others and expects users of the Services to do the same. We will respond to notices of alleged copyright infringement that comply with applicable law and are properly provided to us.
They will also suspend accounts for using other people's content without attribution.

I'm missing the point you were making.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:19 AM on November 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


such wanton carelessness sure seems like "intent" to not give much of a shit about possible consequences to me.

Tell me, honestly, that you've never been in a car with a drunk driver. I myself had never driven drunk, ever, in 30 years of driving - and found myself this summer having to creep around the neighborhood, drunk, looking for a spot where my friend's car I was borrowing would not be towed away (on my 47th birthday! There were no ill consequences, thank Goodness... partly because I was in deathly fear of causing any.)

The point is that drunk driving is similar to criminal negligence - the intent to cause harm simply isn't there. We don't know the facts of this case, perhaps it was gross negligence not so far from out-and-out murder, perhaps it was unavoidable even if the driver hadn't been drunk, but either way it is not at all the same thing as robbing a liquor store with a gun.

Not that you shouldn't serve time for vehicular homicide, of course. The law is just and saves lives - but it's not depraved to be sympathetic to the culprit.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:19 AM on November 28, 2009


So the punchline to this "joke" happens every time someone gets arrested for "D"UI while sleeping it off in their backseat; every time a golfer gets busted riding back from the 19th hole in a 5mph golf cart; every time the police waste my time and tax money at "random" sobriety checkpoints (for the record, I do not ever drive after having even the smallest sip, so don't take this solely as a rant of self-interest). Every time the police drive someone to five different stations trying to find the one breathalyzer far enough out of calibration to blow a .08. And don't even get me started on the ads trying to tell people that they can't give their kids wine at the family dinner table.

Fair enough -- I'm actually less convinced that this is a waste of taxpayer money, considering the shocking number of roadside fatalities that happen in America each year, but all right -- but I don't see what this has to do with this particular case, in which a man most definitely really did have too much to drink and definitely got a person dead. I'm not sure he should be in prison, but I don't think imprisonment is really some puritanical overreaction.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:21 AM on November 28, 2009


Every time the police drive someone to five different stations trying to find the one breathalyzer far enough out of calibration to blow a .08.

feel free to post proof of that

---

If you drink you will (and I know you already have) drive drunk.

it's like no one ever drinks at home

there's nothing like a mefi thread about alcohol and the police to bring out the frat boy in everyone

"the man doesn't like us to PARTY!"
posted by pyramid termite at 8:25 AM on November 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


If you drink you will (and I know you already have) drive drunk.

Speak for yourself on this one. If I'm driving I drink less; if I want to drink more I walk, take a taxi, or get a ride from a non-drinking friend. It's honestly not that tough.

Back to the original issue, I have a lot of sympathy for a guy who made a really dumb decision, and who has to live with killing his friend and injuring his wife. But if he got a sweet deal originally because he is a hollywood bigshot, and then is upset because his dumb tweets lost him that deal? For that I have no sympathy.
posted by Forktine at 8:25 AM on November 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


I can even understand the need to punish him (spare me any pretenses of "rehabilitation", more complete BS in 99% of situations) to send a message to society. But as far as any actual intent or responsibility goes, sorry, but just not there.

I am intrigued by this view. Would you feel the same way (i.e., no intent or responsibility) about a surgeon who became intoxicated and then committed fatal malpractice? How about a taxicab driver who became intoxicated and then killed his passengers in a fatal crash?

I can understand the view -- even if not recognized in the law -- that the twittering inmate may have lacked specific intent to kill his friend, but we send people to jail for decades based no recklessness all the time. Do you think that is a bad thing?
posted by Slap Factory at 8:26 AM on November 28, 2009


Frobenius : However, you've forgotten the operative part: people could well die if you have alcohol and then get behind the wheel of a car.

...Except you ignored my entire context for that statement - We accept that alcohol leads to poor judgement, irresponsibility, poor reflexes, general stupidity. So the "decision" to get in a car, which occurs after drinking, does not take place within a rational and responsible person; it happens in a person that we accept as so impaired that we don't allow them to legally drive.

The normal line of thinking while sober goes "if I drink too much, I shouldn't drive". The same thought process while drunk goes more like "Hey, I need a bag of chips, where'd I put my keys?". Possible outcomes (and thus "intent") simply do not exist in the second version.


Slap Factory : Would you feel the same way (i.e., no intent or responsibility) about a surgeon who became intoxicated and then committed fatal malpractice? How about a taxicab driver who became intoxicated and then killed his passengers in a fatal crash?

Both of those scenarios include the preexisting knowledge of a need for sobriety at time-X. If you know that in two hours you need to do something requiring all your mental and physical capacities and still chose to drink, then yes, you bear responsibility and I might even say intent.

Now, I'll point out my own elephant here - If you go out somewhere and drink heavily, you know ahead of time that eventually you need to go home. In that scenario, although I'd still consider the circumstances (did you have to leave earlier than expected, for example), I'd fall a lot harder on the "responsible" side.
posted by pla at 8:36 AM on November 28, 2009


Wasn't his lawyer supposed to tell him not to do stupid stuff like twittering? Or his friends?

If he submitted an ask metafilter question with any identifiable information the first ten answers would have been "shut up shut up shut up shut the fark up".
posted by bukvich at 8:39 AM on November 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


If you drink you will (and I know you already have) drive drunk.

Nope, never have. Try again.
posted by grouse at 8:43 AM on November 28, 2009 [7 favorites]


Not to derail the derail, but what law or restriction did Mr Avery break by tweeting during the day furlough, that would result in fulltime jail?

(I happen to think twitter is a crime against literature and attention span, but I don't think prison is appropriate punishment tor tweeting. Yet.)
posted by Artful Codger at 8:44 AM on November 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


Looks like he protected his updates now. A bit late, what with the cows already out.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:45 AM on November 28, 2009


There is bad judgment and there is horrifically bad judgment. Drawing attention to what appears to be his preferential treatment was bad judgment on Avary's part. Getting behind the wheel after drinking too much was horrifically bad judgment. I'm pretty sure it was not a grand scheme to murder his friend and make it look like a drunk driving accident. The guy fucked up. He fucked up real bad and somebody died. The consequences for that bad judgment, other than having to live with having killed a friend (who as pointed out above, willingly got into the car with an intoxicated driver), appears to be jail time. He might be an asshole, but he's not a monster.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 8:46 AM on November 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Looks like he protected his updates now.

Wow, since this post went up? Crazy. Maybe he's a MeFite. Here's the Google cache of his Twitter feed while supplies last.
posted by grouse at 8:49 AM on November 28, 2009


pyramid termite : feel free to post proof of that

Not exactly the incident I had in mind, but one arguably more offensive.

I'll keep looking for the one I had in mind, but I think I've defended my point - MADD has so thoroughly demonized alcohol that police feel justified in trying to pin bogus DUI charges on anyone even marginally off their "A" game.
posted by pla at 8:50 AM on November 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


Artful Codger: Not to derail the derail, but what law or restriction did Mr Avery break by tweeting during the day furlough, that would result in fulltime jail?

I think the issue was that his tweets drew attention to the fact that he was in the day furlough program, which it sounds like was not supposed to be the case. Perhaps after the sentencing he (or his connections and/or lawyer) finagled a way into the program. And since his Tweets were less than complimentary to the legal system, he pissed someone in power off enough to unfinagle it.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 8:51 AM on November 28, 2009


Not to derail the derail, but what law or restriction did Mr Avery break by tweeting during the day furlough, that would result in fulltime jail?

probably as part of his sentence he needed to participate in an aa program or something similar and show some self-reflection, remorse and insight into his situation

making up a bunch of banal tweets about his alleged life in the jail and publishing them shows that he's learned very little so far
posted by pyramid termite at 9:14 AM on November 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Not exactly the incident I had in mind, but one arguably more offensive.

you can come up with all the isolated incidents you want, but for every one there are thousands of cases where the person arrested was legally drunk and endangering other people
posted by pyramid termite at 9:17 AM on November 28, 2009



The normal line of thinking while sober goes "if I drink too much, I shouldn't drive". The same thought process while drunk goes more like "Hey, I need a bag of chips, where'd I put my keys?". Possible outcomes (and thus "intent") simply do not exist in the second version.


This is bogus. Alcohol does decrease inhibitions-- but if you make sure you have very strong inhibitions against driving while drunk, you will not do it. That's why the "designated driver" campaign actually worked to decrease drunk driving (much more than the ads with dead people and guilt)-- it gives you something concrete to do about the problem rather than tune out and think "it won't happen to me."

When drunk driving was socially acceptable-- Mad Men, anyone?-- there were about double the number of deaths we currently have caused by it. Making it socially unacceptable didn't change the pharmacology of alcohol-- it changed the social context and thereby increased the inhibitions against doing it.

When drunk, people are not willless automatons-- they are simply themselves with less impulse control.
posted by Maias at 9:46 AM on November 28, 2009 [13 favorites]


I would like to remind the people arguing about intent that this is a settled matter of law, both in Avary's case and in the case of Mr. Heatley mentioned upthread. It's settled because both of these men were sentenced for manslaughter, which means that as far as the law is concerned they did not intend to kill their victims. There are no fine shades about this; it's the definition of the term. Some states do have provision for vehicular homicide, which is distinguished from manslaughter precisely because it's assumed that you knew your actions could result in a death when you consciously chose to do them.

And as for Avary, I think it's obvious that he's a dick and he got hauled into the jail full time for being a dick. And it's also a settled matter of law that when you are in a furlough program or on parole, you're still subject to a set of rules the rest of us are free from and yes, acting like a dick may not be allowed.

And finally, speaking of people acting like dicks, there is MADD which long ago made the transition from being a force for personal and social responsible to being a very consicous and willing tool of creeping fascism.
posted by localroger at 9:47 AM on November 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


Faze: If you drink you will (and I know you already have) drive drunk.

Damn, you broke my projection meter.
posted by localroger at 9:51 AM on November 28, 2009 [5 favorites]


Tell me, honestly, that you've never been in a car with a drunk driver.

Not to the best of my knowledge. It's fucking dangerous. I won't get in a car with a driver who has had even one beer. Maybe I'm in the minority, but I really doubt I'm in a minority of one.

---

I know people are really angry, and I don't blame them for being so, but to me it's a waste of time to talk about intent. What difference does it make?

People are GOING to drink. Unfortunately, it's a force of nature. Make it illegal and people will do it anyway (remember prohibition?).

Drinking impairs motor skills and judgment.

SOME people with impaired judgment will drive drunk. Some of those drunk drivers will wound or kill people.

Assuming that this is just fated to happen, the question is this: what can we do to protect our citizens from this as much as possible?
posted by grumblebee at 9:51 AM on November 28, 2009


Not to derail the derail, but what law or restriction did Mr Avery break by tweeting during the day furlough, that would result in fulltime jail?

probably as part of his sentence he needed to participate in an aa program or something similar and show some self-reflection, remorse and insight into his situation

making up a bunch of banal tweets about his alleged life in the jail and publishing them shows that he's learned very little so far


Is there really anyone who has "Show appropriate amounts of remorse at all times, even on Twitter" as part of their sentence? I find that completely impossible to believe. Dude made up lies on the Twitter. Whoopdeedoo. If he was supposed to be in the work furlough program, then he should be allowed to tweet whatever the hell he wants to, even unremorseful, uninsightful, banal lies.

If he wasn't supposed to be in the program, then oops.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:53 AM on November 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you drink you will (and I know you already have) drive drunk.

Oh, bollocks. I know you've got some self-styled ubermensch thing going on from your posts on healthy living and vegetarianism, so you may find it hard to believe that your failings aren't universal, since you're so highly evolved comparedto the peons, but plenty of people drink and don't drive, ever. It's easy as long as you apply a little forethought and self-control.
posted by rodgerd at 10:11 AM on November 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


MADD did a lot of good in their early days, as a group of concerned mothers trying to get drunks off the roads. As with all purpose-driven organizations, however, they needed to extend their crusade to justify their continued existence, once they basically got what they wanted.

MADD succeeded in getting the drunks off the roads? Sweet! When did this happen, Wednesday or so? This will definitely be a major improvement in road safety.
posted by palliser at 10:12 AM on November 28, 2009


23skidoo: If he was supposed to be in the work furlough program, then he should be allowed to tweet whatever the hell he wants to, even unremorseful, uninsightful, banal lies.

That may seem more fair, but I'm sorry to inform you that it doesn't work that way, at least not anywhere in the USA.

Things like work furlough, conjugal visits where they're allowed, and parole are privileges. There are some standard reasons these privileges are regularly handed out but ultimately, though they usually work from guidelines, these privileges are assigned at the discretion of a judge. If you are a white collar worker and it's your first offense in certain jurisdictions you may be allowed to serve your sentence in work furlough or at home with an ankle bracelet or with regular visits to your parole officer but the state doesn't have to let you do those things because ultimately, you were sentenced to do a certain amount of time in jail.

And the people who determine these things do care very much about expressions of remorse. They factor hugely at sentencing, in parole hearings, and in things like work furlough privileges. This is why, to give a well documented and mostly unrelated example, innocent men wrongly convicted of rape tend to serve longer sentences than real rapists because they are unable to abase themselves properly in the programs they are supposed to complete to win earlier release.

So what happened here to Avary is entirely normal and to be expected if you know how the system works. It is quite possible that he thought that because he is a Famous Person that he was entitled to his privileged status, and did not realize that the judge he pissed off enough by acting like a dick so publically would have the power to take the privilege away. If so it's his fault for stupidly not informing himself of how the system he is in works.
posted by localroger at 10:15 AM on November 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you drink you will (and I know you already have) drive drunk.

You should move somewhere where you don't have to make this assumption or meet some new people who don't suck.
posted by fuq at 10:17 AM on November 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


So the "decision" to get in a car, which occurs after drinking, does not take place within a rational and responsible person; it happens in a person that we accept as so impaired that we don't allow them to legally drive.

I'm still having an incredibly difficult time believing that you can make this argument with a straight face. I've had multiple experiences at parties when I was drunk and thought about driving home and then immediately decided that this was a bad idea. You can be impaired enough that you shouldn't drive, but still maintain your moral sense.

Everyone here is pure and perfect and if they ever make a mistake they will take their punishment with a stoicism and humility to make the gods weep.

If you drink you will (and I know you already have) drive drunk.

It's insane to me that people in this thread are seriously arguing that driving drunk is a normal, morally defensible thing that everyone does, and that drunk driving is some sort of simple "mistake" that anyone could make. Fine, why stop there: Did you rape someone while drunk? Rob a liquor store? Not your fault! We all know that alcohol impairs judgment!
posted by Frobenius Twist at 10:20 AM on November 28, 2009 [6 favorites]


The inmates stage mock trials to solve humorous disputes like "did you fart or not?" complete with Judge, Jury, Lawyers, and Punishments.
posted by straight at 10:49 AM on November 28, 2009


I've driven drunk a few times (not for over twenty-five years mind you), and no I never caught. Because A. I was lucky and never stumbled into a roadblock and B. I was a VERY careful drunk driver, conscious that I was operating below my normal capabilities and behaved accordingly. I'm not trying to justify anything here (I did give up this practice a long time ago) but I imagine my cautious approach does speak for many.

But not all.

Some people simply lose their normal, rational judgment once they reach a certain level of inebriation. That is, they drive more aggressively and carelessly than they would ever do sober, they argue more aggressively and carelessly, they do pretty much everything more aggressively and carelessly.

People like this shouldn't drink. Period. And, thankfully, most of them figure it out without having to kill a friend first.
posted by philip-random at 10:58 AM on November 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's insane to me that people in this thread are seriously arguing that driving drunk is a normal...
It's not normal, but sadly it's not too uncommon. Luckily over the years it's been becoming less of the norm, but there's still a long way to go.

...morally defensible thing that everyone does, and that drunk driving is some sort of simple "mistake" that anyone could make...
It's never morally defensible to drive drunk, but people do it. Often because they don't understand or acknowledge the level of impairment after drinking. They rationalize along the lines of three beers in two hours is better than four mixed drinks in an hour and wrongly justify that they are OK enough to drive. It's that "enough" line that seems to be problem people have trouble with.

Fine, why stop there: Did you rape someone while drunk? Rob a liquor store? Not your fault! We all know that alcohol impairs judgment!
Driving while sober is legal, so it's not an unreasonable leap of logic that somebody will misjudge the effects of their drinking and drive while intoxicated. Rape and robbing liquor stores while sober are legal or right, so there's no reasonable leap of logic that they'd be OK wile intoxicated.

And I'd like to stress that I am in no way condoning driving while intoxicated. I am adamant about not doing it myself (and have slept on some awfully uncomfortable couches to avoid doing it myself) and stopping those that do. But most instances of drunk driving that I'm aware of come from poor judgment, not a malicious intent to endanger others. And has been said many times here, the trend of better educating and changing the acceptance of it seems to be going in the right direction.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 11:13 AM on November 28, 2009


philip-random : It's insane to me that people in this thread are seriously arguing that driving drunk is a normal, morally defensible thing that everyone does, and that drunk driving is some sort of simple "mistake" that anyone could make.

I agree completely - Because not a single person has suggested that particular straw-man.

A few people have suggested we feel a teensy bid bad for Avery for his role in the death of a friend - I know in the same position, regardless of legal or moral guilt, I would feel awful and probably wish I had died instead, and going to prison on top of it, certainly an unenviable situation all around.

As for me, I have additionally defended my stance that MADD has overreached its original (and certainly once-admirable) goal to the point that it now looks like a parody of its former self, and worse, that it bears responsibility for such absurd laws and enforcement thereof that people take "real" DUI less seriously as a result - In my example about charging people sleeping it off in the backseat, how many people do you suppose would decide, "better to risk it and drive home, than have a cop find me here at 3am and face the same legal consequences"?

But none of the above makes any claim of DUI as a "normal, morally defensible thing". Nor, as far as I can tell, has anyone even defended Avery as a specific example. Personally, I'd say we don't have enough info to damn him or absolve him. As for the only on-topic issue, that of his tweets... Tweeting inherently involves some sort of belief that thousands of people give a crap about your life in 160 character increments; His tweets read as no more self-absorbed than any of the other millions that go out every day. Whether or not that has entered the realm of a "normal, morally defensible" perspective, I'll leave to sociologists of the coming decades (though for myself, I consider it just an annoying quirk that I refuse to have any part of, whether reading or writing them).
posted by pla at 11:13 AM on November 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


If so it's his fault for stupidly not informing himself of how the system he is in works.

I'm totally not a famous person, and I don't get it either. Sorry. Which of the following things might also have gotten him yanked from the work-furlough program?

A) Twittering interesting, unremorseful stuff that made it clear he was in the work-furlough program
B) Twittering interesting, unremorseful stuff that completely never mentioned he was in the work-furlough program
C) Twittering anything, really
posted by 23skidoo at 11:22 AM on November 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


I saw a recap of this on gawker earlier today and couldn't believe this guy was actually stupid enough to believe tweeting about this while getting away with a lighter sentence than intended wasn't a stupid idea. then I read on wikipedia why he had gone to jail and it all began making sense.
posted by krautland at 11:25 AM on November 28, 2009


philip-random : It's insane to me that people in this thread are seriously arguing that driving drunk is a normal, morally defensible thing that everyone does, and that drunk driving is some sort of simple "mistake" that anyone could make.

Ummm, I didn't say that. Frobenius Twist did. But I agree.

Alcohol related issues are never simple and we fool ourselves if we think otherwise. Just look at the various cultures of the world that forbid it altogether (and no, it's not just because they hate our freedom).

Welcome to but one more of the challenges of maturity: to know your limitations and to live by them. If I had my way, we'd be teaching kids to drink (and do various other drugs) from about age 12 on up (that's when I got started), so that by the time they got anywhere near the dangerous fucking weapon that an automobile is, they'd at least have a consciousness of the sometimes weird, sometimes wonderful demons that these intoxicating substances unleash.
posted by philip-random at 11:36 AM on November 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


philip-random : I didn't say that. Frobenius Twist did.

Oh! My sincere apologies.

Not quite sure how I got the wrong attribution on that (you didn't even write the post above that one, so really no clue what happened).

Mea culpa
posted by pla at 11:43 AM on November 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Can't we just throw people in holes with appropriate food/water/shelter and a few books? And anyone caught smuggling items into prison gets to share the inmate's remaining time in a different hole.

I thought Killing Zoe was a fine movie, but fuck this guy. Timothy McVeigh famously spent his final years watching cable TV. In Japan, you're not allowed to talk to fellow prisoners. Guess which country has a lower crime rate.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:58 AM on November 28, 2009


It's insane to me that people in this thread are seriously arguing that driving drunk is a normal, morally defensible thing that everyone does, and that drunk driving is some sort of simple "mistake" that anyone could make.

Drunk driving is a thing that lots of people do who are not necessarily bad people, however.
posted by empath at 11:59 AM on November 28, 2009


(15% of americans admit to driving drunk in the past year. I'll go ahead and add another 10% of people who either won't admit it or were probably more drunk than they thought they were when they got behind the wheel).
posted by empath at 12:04 PM on November 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


23skidoo: Which of the following things might also have gotten him yanked from the work-furlough program?

Any of them that might piss off a judge. It's really that simple. It's an authoritarian dude who has made an extremely creepy heirarchal power structure his life and career, and he has done you a favor by giving you work furlough. Do you

(a) whine within his earshot how unfairly you're being treated
(b) STFU until you've completed your sentence
posted by localroger at 12:27 PM on November 28, 2009


Drunk driving is a thing that lots of people do who are not necessarily bad people, however.

They're bad f***ing people while they're doing it, certainly if it gets them driving faster, more carelessly, more sloppily than they otherwise would.

Driving drunk is like firing a gun in the general direction of where there may (or may not) be people. The long odds are, you probably won't hit anyone ... but why take the chance? And if you keep doing it, those odds keep narrowing.
posted by philip-random at 12:32 PM on November 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


I caught this via Neil Gaiman's feed. I was a little surprised to see it and wondered how long it would last. Neil has a lot of followers; if I were him I wouldn't have publicized it.

As for Avary, his punishment is what it is. My local rag's commenter contingent loves to hold online lynchings of drunk drivers, even if they've never injured anyone, while failing to recognize that just increasing punishment does little to solve the problem (alcoholism, generally) and view treatment programs (which are generally in a carrot-and-stick configuration with incarceration) as leniency. It's not as medieval as the treatment they fantasize about meting out to violent and sexual criminals, but it's still generally clueless. The thing we want is for the person to stop driving drunk. Indulging in the Puritan-stocks S&M fantasies of the public serves some distinct and probably less desirable purpose.
posted by dhartung at 12:36 PM on November 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Timothy McVeigh famously spent his final years watching cable TV. In Japan, you're not allowed to talk to fellow prisoners. Guess which country has a lower crime rate.

According to this, Yemen. Crime statistics and reporting are notoriously unreliable, and often reflect enforcement rates and honesty.

I think that, perhaps, cultural expectations, a more successful economy supported by better infrastructure, breasts everywhere, and an abundance of seafood might have more to do with the different crime rates between Japan and the United States than the condition of their prisons. I should also note that most of the people I know, at least, consider U.S. corrections policy to be misguided and unduly harsh But I'm from New Zealand, and we're at the top of that list.
posted by doublehappy at 12:40 PM on November 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


Also, it's only a matter of time before someone establishes that friends of a drink-driver have a duty of care to soon-to-be-former pedestrians, for example. If I saw a 12 year old getting into the driver's seat of a vehicle and he then ran someone down, there'd be most of the requirements for a tort. A 12 year old behind the wheel isn't that far from a very drunk driver I don't think.
posted by doublehappy at 12:48 PM on November 28, 2009


15% of americans admit to driving drunk in the past year

which is interesting as a point for discussion but it is almost impossible to estimate a number like that reliably. Significance tests, hypothesis testing, self-reports, &c ; it is a huge can of worms. In tomorrow's Sunday New York Times magazine they have a story about a sex researcher and she claims that her best numbers are that 30% of American females are frigid. They at least know enough to disclaim their datum by saying it is extremely unreliable.

I know people who drive drunk and who do so unapologetically. I know people who have been busted for driving while intoxicated and express no remorse about endangering everybody else on the road, but only express regret about getting caught. I know a woman who divorced an alcoholic after years of humiliation, but the last straw was he wrecked her car. She was never bothered that he endangered human lives; but she was aghast that he wrecked her car.

Very wide the spectrum of opinion out there. We might take a poll just on metafilter people driving home from alcohol inclusive metafilter meetups. I bet the number of legally impaired (.05% blood alcohol content in my zip code) drivers is well above 1%.

Instead of sending 50$ for the bar tab, maybe Matt Haughey should have sent one of those blood alcohol breath gauges to all the anniversary meetups.
posted by bukvich at 12:49 PM on November 28, 2009


Okay, ya ever been in a restaurant after 6 pm? You see all those people drinking wine? You see all those people drinking beer? Unless you live in NYC or Boston or maybe a few other places, those people are all going to get into their cars and drive home. Ya ever been in a restaurant in Pennsylvania, where the restaurants are all BYOB? People bring their own bottles and finish 'em (nobody wants to carry home a half-finished bottle) and everybody in nearly ever restaurant is drunk. Unless these people live in downtown Philly, they will drive home drunk. When you are driving down a rural road at 11 pm just about anywhere in American, that guy in the car coming toward you is probably drunk. Cops could park outside of every bar in America, and arrest just about everybody who walks out the door and gets behind the drivers wheel of a car. I asked a cop about why they don't do this, and he said something about that it would be poor sportsmanship.
posted by Faze at 1:12 PM on November 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


Matt Haughey should have sent one of those blood alcohol breath gauges to all the anniversary meetups.

I'm pretty sure we'd just end up with a sushi pants situation.
posted by empath at 1:12 PM on November 28, 2009 [5 favorites]


MADD sucks. As an example, they gave a failing rating to our state one year, not because the drunk driving rate increased (it dropped), but because the laws weren't increased to meet their current standard.

If they cared about actual drunk driving, they'd be looking at methods that work. Instead, all they do is lobby for ever more draconian punishments. I suppose it's because they are so mad.

Here's another amusing bit of tomfoolery from them: MADD Demands AO Rating for GTA IV

GTA IV includes a drunk driving feature, where your control of the car is reduced, and your chances of a crash are significantly increased. Somehow, this is a BAD THING! and MADD thinks only adults should be allowed to play the game.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 1:28 PM on November 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


it is 50 dollars by some odd cosmical coincidence

empath that story is hilarious and at the same time disgraceful; the guy confesses to driving while impaired. I suppose we agree that the subject is not always entirely black and white.
posted by bukvich at 1:40 PM on November 28, 2009


Great post.
posted by thescientificmethhead at 1:45 PM on November 28, 2009


Drunk driving is a thing that lots of people do who are not necessarily bad people, however.

When you are driving down a rural road at 11 pm just about anywhere in American, that guy in the car coming toward you is probably drunk.


Gee, if everybody's doing it, then surely it can't be bad, can it?

I mean, if you drive down a rural road in Virigina, you'll pass all kinds of houses that used to own slaves. Those weren't all necessarily bad people, were they?

Yes, if you are in the habit of getting so drunk that you can't even tell whether you should be driving or not without taking some precautions to make sure you don't accidentally start driving in that state, you are a bad person with an alcohol problem and you deserve to go to jail.
posted by straight at 1:46 PM on November 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


As has been stated above, cellphones are already prohibted in California prisons. As well, visitors to the Ventura County Jail are prohibited from bringing cellphones into the prison's visiting area.
posted by ericb at 2:17 PM on November 28, 2009


Mr. Anthropomorphism:
However, I think they should let him continue, so the family of the victim can subscribe to the RSS feed and stay up do date on Avary's suffering.


One of my dearest friends was killed (as a passenger) in an accident where both drivers were considered drunk by current standards. One of the drivers was another good friend.

None of us would have wanted to see the driver suffer any more than the mental anguish he was already experiencing. He killed his best friend. He killed *everyone's* best friend. But he was also a stupid kid, raised in a culture that doesn't teach kids how to drink responsibly, and instead glamorizes over-consumption. He, for as long as he lives, will live with the knowledge that he made a choice that killed someone. That's a pretty harsh sentence.

To suggest that families/friends of accident victims are always going to be filled with rage and revenge fantasies is to perhaps misinterpret the stages of grief, and the healing that comes from forgiveness.
posted by dejah420 at 2:22 PM on November 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


1. Some people simply lose their normal, rational judgment once they reach a certain level of inebriation. That is, they drive more aggressively and carelessly than they would ever do sober, they argue more aggressively and carelessly, they do pretty much everything more aggressively and carelessly.

2. They're bad f***ing people while they're doing it, certainly if it gets them driving faster, more carelessly, more sloppily than they otherwise would.

Drunk driving isn't safe as long as you're very careful and don't get all aggressive and sloppy. Don't perpetuate dangerous myths. When you're drunk, your reaction times are slower whether or not you're trying to be careful. Your judgment is impaired whether or not you're trying to be careful. Are there degrees of drunkenness, with some more dangerous than others? Absolutely. But if you're drunk, and you drive, you can't compensate for the drinking by being super duper careful. If you don't end up in an accident, congratulations on your luck.

Again, even careful, non-aggressive people should not be driving drunk. There is no safe way to drive drunk except to abstain totally. (even condoms won't help!)
posted by prefpara at 2:27 PM on November 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


When you are driving down a rural road at 11 pm just about anywhere in American, that guy in the car coming toward you is probably drunk.

Gee, if everybody's doing it, then surely it can't be bad, can it?


The point is that 1.) everybody's doing it. 2.) It is bad. 3.) Don't drink.

You're all going to go out tonight (it's Saturday night, after all), and you're all going to be faced with a bottle or glass. The challenge is, how will you respond? I would suggest that tonight, and every night hereafter for the rest of your life, you forgo the glass. You'll find that it's not very difficult, and that a future DUI arrest (or fatal accident under the influence) can be struck forever from your list of personal worries. Not a bad dividend for such a small investment.
posted by Faze at 2:35 PM on November 28, 2009


You're all going to go out tonight (it's Saturday night, after all), and you're all going to be faced with a bottle or glass.

no, i'm staying home

The challenge is, how will you respond?

"gulp"

I would suggest that tonight, and every night hereafter for the rest of your life, you forgo the glass.

hmmm - you're right - the bottle's much more sanitary
posted by pyramid termite at 2:41 PM on November 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Okay, ya ever been in a restaurant after 6 pm? You see all those people drinking wine? You see all those people drinking beer? Unless you live in NYC or Boston or maybe a few other places, those people are all going to get into their cars and drive home.
posted by Faze at 3:12 PM on November 28


Maybe so, but they're showing extremely bad (and rightfully criminal) judgement. It's really not that difficult to have a designated driver. It's in all of our interests not to shrug and just accept this sort of behaviour. I've never driven drunk, nor have I knowingly gotten into a car with a driver who has had more than a single unit of alcohol, and it's really not been that difficult to arrange my life to adhere to those extremely simple rules.
posted by joannemerriam at 2:51 PM on November 28, 2009


When drunk, people are not willless automatons-- they are simply themselves with less impulse control.

Yep. And sometimes so messed up they drive down the highway the wrong way, side swipe a car and then crash head-on into your friends' car, killing one; injuring the other. As you can well imagine the pain caused to family and friends of the couple has been intense these past two years.

The drunk driver is on trial this week (and for the next few) for second-degree murder, second second-degree vehicular manslaughter and several other counts stemming from the Labor Day weekend 2007 crash.
posted by ericb at 2:55 PM on November 28, 2009


You're all going to go out tonight (it's Saturday night, after all), and you're all going to be faced with a bottle or glass. The challenge is, how will you respond? I would suggest that tonight, and every night hereafter for the rest of your life, you forgo the glass.
posted by Faze at 4:35 PM on November 28


This is ridiculous. People are perfectly capable of making good decisions about getting one of their friends to be the designated driver, or taking a taxi to the place where they'll be drinking, or whatever, before they start drinking.

It's not like you go to a bar and are incredibly surprised to find out that everybody's drinking, and have to decide on the fly if you're going to abandon your car downtown or not. Just make reasonable plans while you're still sober. No matter how drunk you are, it's still really really easy to stick to the "Jane is driving me home tonight" plan -- especially since Jane will be making sure you get poured into the backseat of her car before she leaves.
posted by joannemerriam at 3:00 PM on November 28, 2009


Handy tip: if too drunk to drive, leave your car in the lot or on the street. If you get a ticket or get towed that evening or the next day, the cost will be minor compared to that of the potential consequences of a drunk driving accident.

Put in your cellphone contact list the following: #TAXI (#8294) which will find a cab for you wherever you are in the U.S. and Canada.
posted by ericb at 3:06 PM on November 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


The point is that 1.) everybody's doing it. 2.) It is bad. 3.) Don't drink.

I don't actually drink, and even I can see this line of thinking is braindead. If you want to avoid drunk driving, get a ride to and from the bar. Or, get live within walking distance of the bars, as I did while attending KSU. The college even provides Saferide to students regardless of age; arguably the number should be on the back of the student ID rather than Commerce Bank's bank card crap.

Related to upthread discussion, a statement from MADD: "MADD supports using sober designated drivers, public transportation, safe ride programs, or other means of traveling safely after drinking alcohol for individuals 21 and older. MADD believes that decisions and arrangements should be made before drinking begins. MADD fully understands all of the harms and risks associated with underage drinking and opposes any alcohol use by those under age 21. MADD supports enforcement of underage drinking laws and therefore cannot condone safe ride programs for those under the legal drinking age."

If you're under 21, I guess your only option is drunk driving. Or maybe your effective abstinence plan that's already the law for a substantial number of students.
posted by pwnguin at 3:10 PM on November 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Faze, how badly does it sting when you cut off your nose to spite your face?
posted by Countess Elena at 4:03 PM on November 28, 2009


Okay, ya ever been in a restaurant after 6 pm? You see all those people drinking wine? You see all those people drinking beer? Unless you live in NYC or Boston or maybe a few other places, those people are all going to get into their cars and drive home. Ya

WTF? For most people, one glass of wine or beer with dinner does not a drunk make.

You're all going to go out tonight (it's Saturday night, after all), and you're all going to be faced with a bottle or glass. The challenge is, how will you respond?

Nope. Staying home. In fact, I changed my mind from going out to staying homes because some friends want to go out drinking and I'm not in the mood. But even if I did go out, I wouldn't drink, because I'm not in the mood to drink tonight. It's not much of a challenge, I don't drink very often even when I'm out with people who are drinking.

Which brings me to:
If you drink you will (and I know you already have) drive drunk.
Never have, never will. I do not get behind the wheel with even the slightest bit of alcohol, because I worry I may not be able to competently judge my condition.

Several people have said similar things. It really sounds like someone here makes REALLY bad decisions when drinking and would like to ease the burden by attributing those things to everyone else.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 4:04 PM on November 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


"The challenge is, how will you respond? I would suggest that tonight, and every night hereafter for the rest of your life, you forgo the glass."

Drinking isn't the problem. Drink driving is the problem. The vast majority of people drink responsibly. Demonising alchohol is about as successful a way of stopping drink driving as abstinence only sex education is at stopping teenage pregnancy.
posted by twirlypen at 4:30 PM on November 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


...Except you ignored my entire context for that statement - We accept that alcohol leads to poor judgement, irresponsibility, poor reflexes, general stupidity. So the "decision" to get in a car, which occurs after drinking, does not take place within a rational and responsible person; it happens in a person that we accept as so impaired that we don't allow them to legally drive.

I can see what you're getting at - how can we say someone isn't competent to drive, but expect them to be competent to follow the law?

I think it's because we take a more nuanced view of the effects of drink, and the influence of those different effects in different activities.

For example, driving requires fast reflexes, attentiveness, and judgement of the speeds of other vehicles. Deciding whether or not to break the law, on the other hand, relies on law-following skills, but does not require fast reflexes or judgement of the speeds of other vehicles; and it doesn't matter if you have to take 20 minutes making your decision so attentiveness isn't vital either.

So if we're of the opinion that two glasses of beer will impair your reflexes and speed judgement, but that it does not impair your law-following skills, it makes sense to ban driving after two glasses of beer.
posted by Mike1024 at 4:33 PM on November 28, 2009


Anyone else remember the thread earlier this year which pointed to the NYT article relating to us all the results of that study (those studies?) wherein it was shown that driving while speaking on a cell phone impairs us as much as driving drunk? But because it's not yet totally into the consciousness that this is A Bad Idea and You Will Lose A Lot If You Do This, many people -- I'd guess a majority of those who both own cell phones and drive -- continue with this behavior.

They will stop -- stop cold, totally, completely -- when doing so results in their losing the privilege of driving in our society.

Driving is not a right. It is a privilege. And it can and should be taken away from those who choose to act in ways that will endanger themselves or others.

The exact same thing with drinking and driving. Once people KNOW, beyond a doubt, know it As A Matter Of Fact, that they will lose the privilege of driving FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES if the are found to be driving after drinking, this behavior will stop. Almost immediately. And almost completely. No chances. No way out. You drink, you drive, you never, ever drive in our society again. And that after serving time with no tweets, nor much else -- yes, as a punishment. No matter how good your attorney. No matter how good a citizen you are. No matter it was a total emergency that you HAD to drive. You drink, you drive, you pay large consequences.

Sortof sorry for the derail here, though not really. It's not totally the individuals fault, it's that as a society we are shortchanging ourselves by not implementing thoughtful measures that will instill deep change in ourselves.

End of rant....
posted by dancestoblue at 5:43 PM on November 28, 2009


grumblebee wrote: what can we do to protect our citizens from this as much as possible?

Set reasonable, not puritanical limits based on actual impairment studies. (The move to the .08 BAC limit was purely revenue driven)

Make it easier for people to arrange alternative transportation.

Drive your friends home when they're drunk, even when they repeatedly puke on the side of your car. The last one being the one that actually does real good, since it both applies a social expectation and results in rewarding late night visits to Taco Bell.

Oh, and stop demonizing alcohol. When you tell people that if they have two drinks they're going to kill someone driving, and they don't because they're driving like they do at the end of a boring day at work because they've only had two beers, they tend to not believe your message of doom anymore. That makes it harder for people like me to get their friends who are inclined to drink and drive to call for a ride when they need one.
posted by wierdo at 6:08 PM on November 28, 2009 [6 favorites]


DUI hysteria is simply latent Puritanism. You don't hear anyone calling for the arrest and imprisonment of drivers who talk on cellphones, despite their equivalent dangers.
posted by mullingitover at 6:10 PM on November 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


prefpara wrote: There is no safe way to drive drunk except to abstain totally.

Apparently an exceptional run of luck makes it possible to drive safely when drunk. I know a guy who has been driving when moderately drunk (no more than four drinks or so, he doesn't get visibly sloshed until number 7 or 8 from what I've seen) for around 40 years now. Never been caught, never been in a crash while inebriated, aside from the one time in Japan where he nearly killed himself on a motorcycle. That was in the 60s, and it apparently didn't change his behavior one bit. Except maybe to drive cars when he's drunk instead of riding motorcycles.

I wouldn't do it (and as mentioned above, do everything I can to encourage people to not make that choice), but I do think there's more to the alcohol/reaction time thing than has thus far been discovered.
posted by wierdo at 6:15 PM on November 28, 2009


Delmoi: (Also the fact that his sentence was only one year indicates the victims family didn't push for a longer sentence.)

Just curious, how do you know this? I thought you were a computer guy, are you also an expert in sentencing?
posted by jayder at 7:16 PM on November 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


thanks for the google cache upthread, these tweets are awesome and im sorry they got shut down.

i could very easily see myself being this guy, making these mistakes, and doing the only thing i could think of to not go completely mad with self-loathing--write about it. i'm sure it's fair that they take twitter away, but i hope they at least let him use a pen every couple of days...for a writer, not being able to communicate should count as cruel and unusual. everyone who think that doucheiness, sin and disturbing character flaws preclude someone from being an interesting writer should probably stop reading books and just stick to stroking legal judgments and mewling with smugness
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:20 PM on November 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Just curious, how do you know this? I thought you were a computer guy, are you also an expert in sentencing?

If the average layperson doesn't have a good idea of how sentencing works, then differential sentencing has no point as a deterrent away from the most abhorrent circumstances of crime.

Arguably, Federal Sentencing Guidelines are byzantine enough one might declare them no deterrent.
posted by pwnguin at 8:28 PM on November 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Except maybe to drive cars when he's drunk instead of riding motorcycles.

Four wheels are always better than two when alcohol enters the equation; far more difficult to land on your head, though it still does happen.
posted by philip-random at 8:51 PM on November 28, 2009


I don't know, such wanton carelessness sure seems like "intent" to not give much of a shit about possible consequences to me.

That doesn't actually work as far as rehabilitating someone. Unless it was your family, you have no personal issues with this person, and misdirecting rage at people you don't know is your own issue to deal with. We really need to stop seeing every story about a criminal as something which is so personal to us we need to become outraged about every incident we hear like this. We need to start looking at crime and punishment rationally - rather than emotionally - if we want to get good results. Only the people involved need to go through the stages of grief, which ultimately must include forgiveness.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:01 PM on November 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Avary's Convict 2.0 shenanigans certainly weren't the wisest move in the world.

I enjoy his work, particularly the staggeringly decadent Rules of Attraction, and I dug how he was an early adopter of Final Cut Pro very early in the decade (I recall a 2-page Apple FCP ad featuring Roger in DV Magazine seven or eight years ago).

But, c'mon, Twittering about his time in the slammer? Asinine at best.
posted by porn in the woods at 9:01 PM on November 28, 2009


I wouldn't do it (and as mentioned above, do everything I can to encourage people to not make that choice), but I do think there's more to the alcohol/reaction time thing than has thus far been discovered.

Yes, but a test of BAC is a pretty good gauge, if it's taken into consideration along with a field sobriety test. If someone appears totally sober and passes the field sobriety test but blows a .08%, which is our legal limit in NM, that person might be considered sober as far as the law is concerned, or not (most likely after being arrested in the meantime), but the law is different in each state.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:07 PM on November 28, 2009


You drink, you drive, you never, ever drive in our society again.

That would cost the rest of us a huge amount of money making up for the lost productivity. How are these people to contribute to society if we never let them? They aren't sociopaths. Most people who have problems with alcohol have mental health issues which need to be addressed before they can reliably quit drinking and start to heal themselves. This is the ONLY way people who really have another underlying problem can become whole again. If they don't address that issue, dealing with other problems is nearly impossible. Once people do address those issues, they have a very good shot at it. How much of this is addressed in our criminal justice system? How much of this is addressed in what you're suggesting?

Anyway, no, that's not how the law works. We could be draconian and get "good" results, but at what cost? We could put police at every intersection to check your papers and your breath for alcohol. Is that how you want to live?
posted by krinklyfig at 9:16 PM on November 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


At best, he'll get out as the same person that went in but a year older.

Well, he'll probably be a better writer.

Locking a crime writer away for a year? Sounds productive to me. It's almost a shame about the cell phone and contact with the outside world. A year of solitary confinement would probably be even more useful to him.
posted by rokusan at 9:36 PM on November 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Unless you live in NYC or Boston or maybe a few other places, those people are all going to get into their cars and drive home. Ya

ooooh, I understand. that of course makes it totally okay. wait, no.
posted by krautland at 9:55 PM on November 28, 2009


Tell me, honestly, that you've never been in a car with a drunk driver.

I wish I could say I never have, but I've spent many hours and many miles riding with drunks. The most terrifying moments of my time in the Peace Corps had nothing to do with violent crime -- it was watching the bus drivers chug their beers ("One more for the road!") before climbing on board and driving us all to the next town.

I don't know anything about the current MADD organization, but for making drunk driving something that is more stigmatized and less common than it used to be, they have my everlasting gratitude.
posted by Forktine at 9:55 PM on November 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


What about talking on your cell phone or texting while driving?
posted by mecran01 at 10:41 PM on November 28, 2009


mecran01: What about talking on your cell phone or texting while driving?

I don't really like blanket restrictions on those things, because I think it is sometimes possible to at least talk on your cell phone (maybe not text, though) while driving in a safe manner. I only do it myself if I'm on a straight segment of road with fairly low traffic. Splitting your concentration doesn't seem to be an unreasonable thing to do if the road you're on didn't require concentration in the first place. Plus, if you need to pay more concentration, you can always put the phone down - if you're drunk you simply have to deal with it.

I think the studies on driving while using a cell phone paint an unnecessarily grim picture, especially when comparing it to drunk driving. They always use very complicated courses (where no sane person would stay on the cell phone when driving) and tend to use drunk drivers right around the legal limit (and thus not actually all that impaired.)
posted by Mitrovarr at 10:58 PM on November 28, 2009


Metafilter: What a bunch of self-righteous nonsense.
posted by atmosphere at 12:09 AM on November 29, 2009


Driving drunk is still quite socially acceptable. I'm going to agree with that "look at people in a restaurant" comment upthread. DUI is a kind of thoughtcrime.
posted by tehloki at 12:41 AM on November 29, 2009


contrast his prison writing / tweeting with Conrad Black's work in prison...
posted by dawdle at 12:57 AM on November 29, 2009


Let's just posit for the sake of argument that driving while texting or on a cell phone is as dangerous as drunk driving.

For those of you that think drunk drivers should be dropped into a dark hole and never be allowed to drive again -- do you think that people driving while texting or on the phone should suffer the same fate? Why or why not?
posted by empath at 1:08 AM on November 29, 2009 [3 favorites]


People, whether they really did something or not (and whether they really did something worthy of living in a cage for a few years or not) don't think like that. They move on with their lives - Yes, killing his friend probably disturbs him greatly, but right now he has more pressing issues to focus on.

Not to derail the IS DRUNK DRIVING GOOD OR GOODER thing going on but this isn't necessarily true. Some people really do internalize their responsibility and show genuine remorse. Look at Daniel Biechele. He was tour manager for Great White when the Station nightclub burned down from one of their pyrotechnics, killing 100 people. He pled guilty to 100 counts of involuntary manslaughter against the advice of all his attorneys and made a completely gut wrenching statement in court to the families of the victims. He also hand wrote letters to each of the 100 families. When he came up for parole a whole bunch of the families supported his release; He asked for his work release to be at a charity and as far as I know has not done anything but charity work since.

That's how you show remorse. For comparison, the two owners of the club never admitted guilt and planned to go to trial right up until Biechele ignored his lawyers and pled guilty. At which point they knew they were hosed so they went nolo contendre. Yeah, nolo contendre.

So it may be rare but some people really do show genuine remorse, change, and not simply move on.
posted by Justinian at 1:12 AM on November 29, 2009 [10 favorites]


Driving drunk is still quite socially acceptable.

Not nearly as much as it used to be. The social campaigns have had an effect. These campaigns do tend to get moralistic, which helps create a strong impact, but IMO we need to be practical and humane about actual policy and law, not moralistic.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:37 AM on November 29, 2009


I'm developing a bit of a driving phobia, as it's starting to seem increasingly like owning a car is more of a risk in my life (of death or imprisonment) than a useful source of transportation (have owned my car more than a year, has just 5000KM on it). I for one like to have a beer or two when I'm out for dinner, and then yes drive home. Nowadays one of my biggest worries is, what if I get an overzealous cop at one of the random roadside stops? (glorious freedom!)

On a semi-related note, am I obligated to tell police at RIDE checks where I'm coming from? I had to consciously override the impulse to say "your mama's house" the last time I was randomly pulled over to see if I had consumed alcohol. I'll have to check about that because I'm fairly fed up with feeling like I am crossing the Berlin Wall when I'm just trying to get home from my parents' house.
posted by autodidact at 7:21 AM on November 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


"The exact same thing with drinking and driving. Once people KNOW, beyond a doubt, know it As A Matter Of Fact, that they will lose the privilege of driving FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES if the are found to be driving after drinking, this behavior will stop. Almost immediately. And almost completely. No chances. No way out. You drink, you drive, you never, ever drive in our society again. And that after serving time with no tweets, nor much else -- yes, as a punishment. No matter how good your attorney. No matter how good a citizen you are. No matter it was a total emergency that you HAD to drive. You drink, you drive, you pay large consequences."

Oh yeah, that sounds perfectly reasonable. That's what we need in this world: Lots of hard-lined, puritanical, no-second-chance rules. I swear, soccer moms would hand the world over to Big Brother in a microsecond, based on the promise that the world would be 1% safer for their babies.
posted by autodidact at 7:26 AM on November 29, 2009 [3 favorites]


Tehloki: DUI is a kind of thoughtcrime.

I represented a guy who got drunk, drove the wrong way down an interstate highway, ran head-in into a car driven by a woman who had young children, and the result of the accident was that both her legs had to be amputated and she will wear a colostomy bag for the rest of her life.

I would love to see you tell her that DUI is a "thoughtcrime."

What a bunch of bullshit there is in this thread.
posted by jayder at 11:33 AM on November 29, 2009 [7 favorites]


DUI is a kind of thoughtcrime.

This doesn't even make sense. Actively doing something (driving under the influence) is kind of the exact opposite of thoughtcrime.
posted by inigo2 at 11:40 AM on November 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


DUI is a thoughtcrime in the sense that you can be convicted of the crime in many states by merely possessing your keys in some arbitrary proximity to your vehicle.

I could get utterly wasted tonight on the remainder of my SO's eggnog, forget I have my keys in my pocket, go outside to smoke a cigarette or whatever and find myself on the receiving end of a DUI charge because I'm close to the car and have the keys to it in my pocket.

God help me if I opened the car to get my hair brush or whatever out of it.
posted by wierdo at 3:29 PM on November 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


DUI is a thoughtcrime in the sense that you can be convicted of the crime in many states by merely possessing your keys in some arbitrary proximity to your vehicle.

Is this true? (Honest question.)
posted by inigo2 at 3:49 PM on November 29, 2009


I'll say this about Avary, he's no Genet.
posted by quakerjono at 3:51 PM on November 29, 2009


What about talking on your cell phone or texting while driving?

If you drive drunk, which is illegal, you get a fine. If someone is injured, you get jail time. If talking on cell phones/texting while driving becomes illegal, than it should carry the same penalties. Is it really so difficult to get a hands-free device or just refrain from answering or making calls when driving?

I've never driven drunk, and never will. I won't get into a car with a drunk driver. I don't like to use my cell phone when driving (I have an iphone with voice calling), and have gotten flak from my spouse for it, but I don't think it's safe. I won't hold anyone to a higher standard than I do myself. So would it be so unreasonable to say, hey don't drive while impaired? I don't think so.

I for one like to have a beer or two when I'm out for dinner, and then yes drive home. Nowadays one of my biggest worries is, what if I get an overzealous cop at one of the random roadside stops?

Really, this is one of your biggest worries? Why not get someone else to drive or wait until you get home to have that wine if you are so worried about it? I doubt you are really *that* worried.
posted by misha at 4:40 PM on November 29, 2009


DUI is a thoughtcrime in the sense that you can be convicted of the crime in many states by merely possessing your keys in some arbitrary proximity to your vehicle.

I could get utterly wasted tonight on the remainder of my SO's eggnog, forget I have my keys in my pocket, go outside to smoke a cigarette or whatever and find myself on the receiving end of a DUI charge because I'm close to the car and have the keys to it in my pocket.

God help me if I opened the car to get my hair brush or whatever out of it.


weirdo, your profile shows Arkansas and Oklahoma as your locations.

In Arkansas, you have to be in "physical control" of your vehicle while the motor is on to be in trouble if you are intoxicated. Examples where defendants were NOT found guilty of DUI include:

A defendant was not in actual physical control of a vehicle where an officer found the defendant asleep, intoxicated, and sitting behind the steering wheel, with the driver's side window rolled down, the motor and the car lights off, and the keys to the vehicle on the dashboard. Stephenson v. City of Fort Smith, 71 Ark. App. 190, 36 S.W.3d 754 (2000).

Where evidence showed that, at the time officers encountered defendant in his vehicle, defendant had been drinking, his foot was on the brake pedal, but the keys were not in the ignition as defendant turned off the engine by use of the remote-start button, the state failed to prove that defendant was in “actual physical control” of the vehicle and his conviction for driving while intoxicated was reversed. Rogers v. State, 94 Ark. App. 47, - S.W.3d - (2006).

In Oklahoma, "Driving under the influence, or DUI, means driving or operating a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated. It is usually a misdemeanor."

So, at your home or your SO's home, you'd probably be safe having some eggnog and going after that hairbrush in your car.
posted by misha at 5:08 PM on November 29, 2009


My friend received a DUI in Oregon. She was not driving, but was 50 feet away from her vehicle and had the keys in her pocket. She was not even at the legal limit, but because she was under 21 they were able to bump it up to DUI because any alcohol in the bloodstream is DUI for minors.
posted by mullingitover at 6:47 PM on November 29, 2009


My friend received a DUI in Oregon. She was not driving, but was 50 feet away from her vehicle and had the keys in her pocket.

I think your friend was likely just embarrassed about being caught driving while having drunk alcohol because it isn't illegal to be near a vehicle while intoxicated. Unless the cops saw her park the car and exit the vehicle, in which case we're back at the previous sentence.
posted by Justinian at 7:44 PM on November 29, 2009


misha: Two guesses as to what happened in both states as soon as those rulings were handed down. ;)

(Ok, no guessing, actual physical control has been redefined to mean having your keys in your possession in proximity to the vehicle)

And regardless of those cases, in the meantime (in Arkansas), overzealous prosecutors had absolutely no problem bringing DUI charges against people who didn't meet the standard of actual physical control, and many lawyers weren't aware of the ruling. Moreover, the police kept arresting people for DUI under those circumstances, even in jurisdictions where the prosecuting attorney wouldn't prosecute.

The sad part is I know people who that happened to, and I also know people who regularly crashed into things while driving under the influence. One of my former roommate's cars looked like it had been in a demolition derby it had been crashed into trees so many times, but it was always drivable, so he'd just drive away.
posted by wierdo at 8:42 PM on November 29, 2009


Really, this is one of your biggest worries? Why not get someone else to drive or wait until you get home to have that wine if you are so worried about it? I doubt you are really *that* worried.

It's the biggest worry associated with dinner out. It's not a worry when I choose not to have anything to drink at all. Which, lately, sometimes I do. Which, when you're having dinner, is a shame.
posted by autodidact at 8:51 PM on November 29, 2009


wierdo: Cite for it being sufficient to be in "proximity" to the vehicle? As far as I am aware you have to be inside the vehicle with your keys. If you are in the car and the keys are outside (like on one of the tires) or you have your keys but are not in the car, you are not considered to be in actual physical control.
posted by Justinian at 10:15 PM on November 29, 2009


There's seems to be a lot of people tripping all over themselves to kick a man while he is down. The guy killed his friend and his wife's survival was a miracle. I think to just say "fuck this guy." is pretty callous. By all accounts the man rarely drank, he made a terrible mistake and he is paying for it in more ways than just jail, I have no doubt. It just goes to show you how careful you have to be when you drive, whether it be drinking, texting, or just a general lack of awareness that you're in a giant metal machine with the power to devastate the human body (something we all see on the road consistently).

Also, some people act like this work furlough thing is some sneaky backroom deal but really, as I understand it, it is something set up for criminals who aren't a danger to the community or a flight risk to ease overcrowding in jails. Sounds like Avary is a textbook case. Judges seem to be really touchy about people talking to the media during their prison sentences without permission. Considering he's locked his tweets, my guess is that the judge took a very broad view on his twittering and revoked the work furlough privilege because of all the publicity it was getting.
posted by argh!spiders! at 1:31 AM on November 30, 2009


I amend my previous post. He hasn't locked his tweets.
posted by argh!spiders! at 1:47 AM on November 30, 2009


You know, there is a difference between having had a few adult beverages and being "OMG DRUNK WHEEEE".

The other thing is that for the most part, we aren't around when these accidents occur. We don't know what the situations are. I wonder what the reality is- how many accidents are actually *attributable* to the intoxicatedness of the driver? Especially when the driver isn't blind drunk, but merely floating around the legal limit? The statistics don't exist for this, because all we have is the impressions of the witnesses as to whether the drivers were influenced by alcohol or not.

In other words, I would bet that most accidents that happen would have not been prevented if the driver(s) weren't drinking.

(As for the intent thing, I'm pretty sure the law has determined that intent doesn't matter for DUI.)
posted by gjc at 6:45 AM on November 30, 2009


The statistics don't exist for this, because all we have is the impressions of the witnesses as to whether the drivers were influenced by alcohol or not.

In other words, I would bet that most accidents that happen would have not been prevented if the driver(s) weren't drinking.


I'm not an expert in drunk driving, so I'm sure I'll be corrected if I'm misspeaking here. But my understanding is that when they say "alcohol was a factor in the crash," they are simply saying that the driver's BAC was above a certain percentage. It's not a question of parsing out what part of the erratic driving was because of the alcohol, and what part was bad luck.

And the answer to your last sentence is going to be found in the accident statistics -- whether as a percentage of fatalities or as crashes/mile, if drunk drivers are overrepresented, then you are wrong, and those accidents are connected to the drinking.
posted by Forktine at 6:56 AM on November 30, 2009


Forktine: Well, you're right and wrong about connected to the drinking. If I'm driving drunk and some fool rear-ends me, that's still an alcohol related crash. If I'm driving sober and my passenger is drunk (and the police notice), that's also still an alcohol related crash. If I've had a beer and am under the legal limit, but still have detectable alcohol in my blood, that's also an alcohol related crash.

With all the crashes that happen when people aren't drunk, I have a hard time believing that every crash where someone involved has been drinking is a result of the drinking, thus I have a hard time believing that the statistics regarding crash rates of drunk drivers are more than a bunch of BS.

That's not to say I approve of drunk driving, but I would certainly appreciate more accurate statistics regarding crashes that are a result of a driver involved being drunk.
posted by wierdo at 5:46 PM on November 30, 2009


Oh, and as a personal aside, of all the people I've known over the years who died in auto crashes, not one of them died because they or another driver was drinking. Of the two I know the full details of, one was completely sober and just ran off the road for no apparent reason, hit a tree, and died. The other had been up for days on a meth binge and was sitting in traffic when a box truck smashed into the line of cars, hit a few, then literally drove over the car this acquaintance of mine was riding in. (said box truck was driven by a fellow who wasn't intoxicated)

Had the latter been drunk instead of high on meth, that would have been recorded as an alcohol related crash, despite the physical impossibility of causing a crash while stopped in traffic.
posted by wierdo at 5:52 PM on November 30, 2009


I don't understand your objection, wierdo. Non-smokers get lung cancer. That means there's some portion of smokers with lung cancer whose lung cancer was not caused by smoking. Who cares? Smoking causes lung cancer. We know this through the wonder of large numbers and statistics.
posted by palliser at 6:08 PM on November 30, 2009


If I'm driving sober and my passenger is drunk (and the police notice), that's also still an alcohol related crash.

Is this true?

But even so, I suspect that the numbers are clearer about this than you are saying they are. Whether the accident statistics are so clear that the cut-off BAC should be .8 vs .9 or 1.0, I have no idea -- but that drivers who are drunk cause more accidents and more deaths is not something that I think is hugely controversial any more.

That said, if you have better facts and figures, I'd be fascinated to see them.
posted by Forktine at 6:16 PM on November 30, 2009


Forktine wrote: "That said, if you have better facts and figures, I'd be fascinated to see them."

What I'm complaining about is specifically the lack of accurate facts and figures due to the statistical distortions inherent in our system of classifying crash information.

I'm not in any way arguing that driving drunk does not statistically increase the chance of a crash. I'm arguing that our policy sucks because we don't have the statistics necessary to formulate good policy.

Another example, which I don't have a citation for since I was looking at a hard copy police report: A drunk pedestrian is walking down the sidewalk one fine evening in Fayetteville. An unimpaired (by alcohol, they may well have been sleep deprived) driver hops the curb and proceeds to strike and kill the pedestrian. It was, since a party involved in the crash had detectable alcohol in their system, classified as an alcohol related death.

Our recordkeeping on this subject is so flawed, it's impossible to come up with good policy beyond "encourage people not to drive drunk."

And for what it's worth, the legal limit is .08, not .8. ;)
posted by wierdo at 8:47 AM on December 1, 2009


Are you extrapolating that all statistics on alcohol-related road traffic collisions are bunk because of this one police report you saw and can't cite? If that is the case, then I think the problem isn't with the system of crime statistics. If that's not the case, then I would really like to know why you think that.
posted by grouse at 11:10 AM on December 1, 2009


If I had the time at the moment (I'm walking out the door as I type this), I'd produce a citation regarding the definition of 'alcohol-related'. I've read it in several articles. I'm sure a Google search would be fruitful.

The police report was an example from memory.
posted by wierdo at 12:15 PM on December 1, 2009


Another example, which I don't have a citation for since I was looking at a hard copy police report: A drunk pedestrian is walking down the sidewalk one fine evening in Fayetteville. An unimpaired (by alcohol, they may well have been sleep deprived) driver hops the curb and proceeds to strike and kill the pedestrian. It was, since a party involved in the crash had detectable alcohol in their system, classified as an alcohol related death.

And it may well have been: if pedestrian had been sober, he might have gotten out of the way in time.

There is actually research that does look more closely at what percent of "alcohol related" accidents would have occurred even if the driver was sober. I haven't looked at it for a while, but I recall that the number was something close to 50%.

But that doesn't change the fact that drunk driving appreciably raises risk for crashes and measurably impairs reaction time and motor skills.
posted by Maias at 2:43 PM on December 1, 2009


Wouldn't you agree that it's misleading to consider that death when citing drunk driving fatalities, as most do? Also consider that a passenger's drunkeness in an involved vehicle also triggers the 'alcohol-related' classification. Better record keeping would enable us to better understand the risks and be sure that we're setting appropriate limits, whether that be .05 or .15. Whatever the science supports.

Right now we're setting standards based on the hysterical ranting of the modern MADD.

While we're at it, we should ask those involved in crashes how long it has been since they slept, and other data about possible impairments. I would like to see a process more like air incidents where those involved go under oath and are forced to tell the truth as to the exact circumstances surrounding the crash.
posted by wierdo at 3:56 PM on December 1, 2009


My "DUI is thoughtcrime" statement was based on the fact that you don't actually have to cause any damage or even commit any driving infractions to be charged. I'm going to re-evaluate my statement and say that it's more like a form of negligence than anything, but I'm sticking by "it's socially acceptable". Ever since I was around 16 I found myself wondering "everybody at this [christmas dinner]/[restaurant]/[birthday party] has been drinking wine all night, how are they going to get home?" and seeing them get in their cars and drive away. I'm aware that there are people who drive when they are fall-down drunk and actually cause lots of damage and loss of life, but it seems like the majority of "drunk driving" involves regular people driving home from social gatherings legally over the limit but causing no damage.
posted by tehloki at 3:15 PM on December 2, 2009


of all the people I've known over the years who died in auto crashes, not one of them died because they or another driver was drinking.

In my case, it's exactly the opposite. Roughly a dozen of my high school friends died by the time I was 30, all but one in car wrecks caused by drinking. The lone exception died of pneumonia related to drinking.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 3:55 PM on December 2, 2009


The only crashes I know of where teens died here, and college kids, all involved alcohol as well. And, before you say anything, weirdo, I mean that the drivers had been drinking.
posted by misha at 4:34 PM on December 2, 2009


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