General Question

Bri_L's avatar

What would be a solution to drunk drivers?

Asked by Bri_L (12191points) August 19th, 2008

My car was hit at 3 in the afternoon while parked, by a 4 time convicted drunk driver, with no license or insurance. The driver was going fast enough on a 25 mph street to hit a truck going perpendicular to her at 45 mph with enough force to push it sideways 15 yards in less than 7 ft. and completely cave in the front of our car.

We just had a pregnant teacher killed as well has her daughter (7 I think) by a multiple convicted drunk driver, a doctor who lost his liscense. he had just left the court room went and killed them by running a stop sign under the influence.

Another 6 time convicted driver had his 14 month old in the car unbuckled and led the police on a high speed chace. He had a 6 pack with one open in the car when he finally stopped.

What do we do?

I say, take their car. If they get caught in another car take that one. Lender beware.

I don’t know the implications of this so I am curious for all input.

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44 Answers

DrasticDreamer's avatar

There are cars that are being developed that will not allow you to drive if you’ve had too much to drink. There are actual, built-in breathalizers that will not let the engine turn on if you’re over the legal limit.I think they should be built into every car. Problem completely solved.

robmandu's avatar

Personally, I’d say forget the breathalyzer… how about one that requires active liability insurance? No insurance, no go.

Bri_L's avatar

Couldn’t someone else start the car for the drunk?

cwilbur's avatar

If the jail time won’t deter them (and a repeat DUI offender who kills two people is facing jail time), then taking their car won’t deter them either.

Bri_L's avatar

@ cwilber- My hope is it will eventually keep them off the road. If they have no car they cant drive. If you knew your car would be taken you wouldn’t lend it to them or let them take it. You would take steps to keep it from them. Besides. They don’t get any real jail time. 6 times and no time? that is rediculous.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

Someone else might be able to start the car, I guess. I never thought about it. But generally if someone is trying to start the car of a person who is too drunk to drive in the first place, chances are the other person is drunk, too. I don’t know any sober person in their right mind who would do that for a drunk person.

trumi's avatar

Fuck the breathalyzers in every car, it will never happen and is totally unmanageable. You would never hook one up to your 1969 Corvette, and if you were determined enough you would just learn to hot wire it.

I vote we all take public transportation and walk more often.

Besides that, I don’t know. I don’t really have an answer besides “teach people moral responsibility.”

Bri_L's avatar

@ DrasticDreamer – There are some stupid people out there who “really think they will be ok, after all it is late and there are not that many people on the road”. Its the whole go out and get blitzed mentality to begin with.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

It could easily be implemented in all new cars, but yes, old cars would be a problem. I definitely didn’t take enough time to think this through completely, though. Because yeah, people would just start to hotwire their own cars.

Taking public transportation and walking more often seems like an easy enough thing to do, but that isn’t feasible. For one, people are generally too lazy and in too much of a hurry to get where they want to go.

Judi's avatar

If you have the money you’ll find a way. My husband had a friend who got in an accident while drunk because he was racing his friend, who happened to be a drunk Highway patrol officer. Do you think they got away with it? Of course they did. His previous drunk driving arrest was reduced to “wet reckless” because he could afford the best attorney in town. The rich will always find a way to get away with it.

Bri_L's avatar

the rich have their own set of rules. nice reminder in an election year.

robmandu's avatar

I wasn’t kidding really. And I think I can work out the technical bits…

1. Require all cars use new microchip-embedded keys (they pretty much all do nowadays any way).
2. The keys must be biometrically matched to the owner (and designated drivers) of the vehicle.
3. Each driver’s profile on the key must be linked to a valid drivers license and valid insurance via database synchronization (could be done via OnStar, for example.).

Bri_L's avatar

@ DrasticDreamer – Please don’t feel attacked. I really wanted to brainstorm this. I was just driving my wife nuts talking about it and I knew I could trust my fluther friends.

trumi's avatar

@Rob; Cool idea, but Liability Insurance doesn’t give a life back :(

DrasticDreamer's avatar

Bri L: No worries. I don’t feel attacked at all. :)

robmandu's avatar

@trumi, you’re right, but that’s not the question here.

One of the criteria mentioned is that the bad guys were driving without insurance. You know why they didn’t have insurance? Because no one would insure them as they’d already proven themselves to be too risky.

If there’s an insurance company that won’t take any amount of money to insure a person, chances are good that that individual shouldn’t be driving.

Note: I am not a fan of insurance companies.

Response moderated
Bri_L's avatar

@ – robmandu – now your talking! We have a starting point. That is the best damn idea yet!

@ DrasticDreamer – Then I haven’t been doing my job! ;-)

The insurance was just a slip. not really the point of the quesiton. it was more the drunkdriving part.

robmandu's avatar

btw… breathalyzer is not effective against:

- stupidity
– recklessness
– illicit drugs not detectable via exhaled breath analysis
– poor choice
– revoked license holders for other reasons (like simply not having insurance)

and is easily defeatable, as already mentioned.

trumi's avatar

@Rob; Right, for repeat offenders it is a very cool idea. May be a bit impractical when you think about borrowing cars, but it still would be very cool. Could even prevent car theft!

robmandu's avatar

Impromptu, ad-hoc borrowing of cars might be difficult.

OTOH, if you’ve got an interactive service like OnStar, you could just call ‘em up, provide friend’s name, DL number, insurance info. Then they’d remotely add your friend’s identity to the key’s set of valid driver profiles.

Many brands of luxo cars these days don’t even require putting the key in the ignition. They sense the proximity of the key in your pocket and auto unlock doors, move seats into your preferred position, and allow you to start the engine with the push of a button. So, OnStar (for my example) would even know which key to put that borrower’s profile on. Y’dig?

Maybe I oughtta shut up and head over to the USPTO.

chutterhanban's avatar



Bri_L's avatar

I am so onboard with rob right now you might fall under my weight.

and the doc. that killed the teacher was on drugs when he left the courthouse.

Bri_L's avatar

@ chutter – hehe

StellarAirman's avatar

Rob your system could still be defeated and still wouldn’t be applied to older cars. Not to mention huge privacy and security concerns. (Probably wouldn’t take long for people to hack the system and be able to access your information, not to mention bypass the checks)

It’s a difficult problem. I’m in the military and it’s a huge problem even though the punishments are usually quite severe (loss of pay/rank, extra duties, meetings with commanders, possible dishonorable discharge, etc). It is beat into our heads at every possible opportunity to not drink and drive and there are free services that will come pick you up at the bar and bring you home with a simple phone call and yet it still happens multiple times a year just at the base I’m stationed at.

I personally don’t drink so I have absolutely no sympathy for people that choose to drink and drive. I think the punishments should be much more severe. From what I hear these days your first offense seems to be a minor inconvenience with maybe a night in jail or a small fine, if that. I think your first offense should take away your license for at least 6 months, and any repeat offenses should be serious jail time and hefty fines. There is absolutely no excuse for it. If a drunk kills someone in a wreck they should be charged with some form of murder. They chose to get drunk without a plan on how to get home, they chose to get in the car and drive (even if their judgement was impaired, it wasn’t impaired when they chose to start drinking) so they should be treated like someone that chose to kill someone.

Of course since it is (sadly) so common, our jails would fill up to an even fuller capacity than they already are.

aidje's avatar

I know you mean well, but I think that what you’re suggesting is an absolutely terrible idea. I hope the government never has that much control.

robmandu's avatar

Just exercising in the theoretical.

In my example, though… it wouldn’t necessarily be the government in control (other than to respond to queries re: drivers license info). That said, some sort of central standardizing organization would likely need to be in play. That could be private (like OnStar) but could also be government.

Bri_L's avatar

@ Stellar and Aidje – good point, I hadn’t thought about the implications. I still think there may be a workable solution in there.

btko's avatar

Perhaps a 3-strike system:

Strike 1: Lose your license for life
Strike 2: 5 years in Jail & $25,000 fine
Strike 3: Life in Prison

benseven's avatar

How about a greater sense of social responsibility, the outcasting of such offenders (imagine if they got the same kind of abuse as paedophiles that are uncovered in communities…) and the dismantling of abuse of alchohol as in any way socially acceptable? Even semi-responsibly? Maybe it’s because I’m in the UK and we have such a ridiculous binge-drinking idiot culture over here, but I don’t think the answer to this problem is a technological one.

Bri_L, sorry to hear about your car. It’s horrendous about that teacher too. I would lynch that doctor given half the chance (not very christian of me, but stuff like this makes me go a bit wild and prehistoric and want to club bastards like that).

Btko, 3 strikes = 3 people killed / lives disrupted by loss of limbs or cars due to RTAs?
How about 1 strike and you get thrown into an imprisoned detox program?

Whew, that feels better.

jballou's avatar

You guys know that this breathalyzer built in idea that you’re tossing around actually exists and is real, right? Some people who have had DUI convictions have them installed in their cars at their own cost by the courts.

And yes, they can be easily defeated by having another person blowing into it. However, this is enough of a conscious extra step to make the person in question second guess their behavior and if it stops even just one person from driving drunk, then it’s worth it to me.

I think if you are caught driving drunk more then twice, that should be it. No license for you for the rest of your life. Period. There is no reason 6 time offenders should be able to ever get behind the wheel again.

Bri_L's avatar

@ benseven – thanks – right before christmans my wife and i had two jobs and she was in school. At least we were not in the car. I am christian to. i think I would take the non-route myself and let it leak into general population he tinkered with kids and let the populous take care of him.

lets throw everything we have at the immature bastards.

benseven's avatar

Hahahaha that’s pretty sneaky. I hadn’t thought of that. The injustice of it all is a bit much sometimes though.

StellarAirman's avatar

@benseven I agree that a technological answer is not going to work. It is still socially acceptable to have DUIs and to go on wild binge drinking weekends.

In the military people come in to work bragging about how “wasted” they got over the weekend and saying how badly they want to go home after work and get loaded, then they turn around and say don’t drink and drive and kids underage, make sure you don’t drink. I’m not saying people shouldn’t be allowed to drink if they want to as long as it’s in a responsible way, but it sends mixed messages when they glorify it all the time but then condemn it the next minute.

BronxLens's avatar

Make current penalties steeper. First offense should incur jail time + you loose driving privileges for X months plus fine. For the 2nd and 3rd offenses, longer jail time plus revoke all driving privileges for X years, plus fine. In essence, driving over the legal limit of alcohol should result in jail plus fine.

Drunk driving murders should never result in involuntary manslaughter or other lesser judgement. When you began to drink you did so voluntarily. If your impaired driving results in the death of anyone you should treat the offense as murder because you opted to take yourself to the point of being impaired. You should not be able to make yourself less accountable just by making yourself drunk!

- Offer nationwide reward for information leading to the arrest of anyone driving under the influence of alcohol.

- Prevention in the end is more cost effective than penalizing after the fact, so raise budget for alcohol abuse education.

gooch's avatar

1st time revoke license for life.
2nd time death (which would of course be done without a license).

BluRhino's avatar

Ok. As a former drunk driver, I can relate to this issue. (BTW, I dont know anybody who drinks at all that hasn’t driven under the influence sometime or another) I agree that multiple DUI’s should be prevented if possible. The drinker obviously cant do it. The rest of us cant seem to stop him with threats of fines or jail time, or any law. The beast is just too unstoppable for some.

After reading about the guy with about 17 documented DUIs that rear-ended a car full of kids and pushed them onto a railroad track into a train, I came to the conclusion that if they are on the street and have access to alcohol and vehicles, they will drive one way or another. Only way is to make it impossible to drive. My suggestion: Chemical blinding. Radical, yes. Deterrent threat: high, I think. Better than filling jails with lifers. Just my two cents.

nayeight's avatar

wow, there are some pretty extreme answers here. Death? Chemical blinding? I know that drunk driving is a very big deal but those are a bit extreme. You can’t just kill or blind someone because they were driving drunk. Just like you can’t kill or blind someone who fell asleep at the wheel. Just like the drunk driver who has the choice of not drinking, they had the choice of pulling over and taking a nap. I agree with benseven that we need to make it our social responsibility to punish drunk drivers like we do pedophiles and so on. Maybe just like pedophiles they would have to be regisitered drunk drivers and it get noted on their license. When they go to a bar or restaurant for a drink, the bartender will know. Most importantly, I think their family and friends should be the ones who are the hardest on them. I had a friend who got a DUI and I was very upset with her and let her know that it was not ok.

galileogirl's avatar

You do know there will never be harsh punishment for 1st, 2nd, or even 3rd time drunk drivers who are stopped by the police and haven’t actually been in an accident. If there were mandatory community service for the 1st offense, and I mean 4 weekends in orange vests, sweeping streets where your neighbors can see you, with a 3 strikes and you are in county jail nights and weekends. Licenses should be suspended, not allowing limited use. If you can’t figure out how to drive without even one drink, maybe you should have to figure out how to get to work without a car.

And if someone is killed or injured by a drunk driver, it should be treated just as if they had used a gun. The way you get around the issue of intent is you actually sign a contract for your license. The sentence right above your signature should read that driving under the influence is de facto intent to commit a crime.

But we should extend the consequences to the enablers. Many times when licenses are suspended, friends and familiy members will put cars and insurance in their names. Anyune who knowingly conspires with a drrver whose license is suspended should lose their licenses, too. Suspended drivers and enablers should have their names made public/published.

Driving is a privilege.

Bri_L's avatar

by taking away the car, I kind of feel like we will be extending the consequences to the enablers. I think that is a great idea. Comments?

BluRhino – thanks so much for your open and honest contribution.

BluRhino's avatar

So what i’m seeing here are theories about punishments AFTER the fact: ( hopefully no-one got killed, but they still do ) and deterrent ideas. What we must see is that the drinker/driver does not take responsibility pro actively, so we have to do it for them. Yes, its a great idea that we all get involved and try to stop them. This is a huge effort by all, while they wait to see what we come up with.The challenge them for them (yes, its a game) is to find a way to beat it. Take the car. Steal one. Someone mentioned choices. “I have to drink; I have to go THERE to drink; I have to get there and back. I have no choice”. We cannot expect them to help in this. Of course my blinding idea is idle fantasy, but it represents the direction of prevention. They are not in jail, being supported (WITH health care) for the rest of their lives, they can still drink themselves to death, and cannot harm innocents meanwhile. Find a means that provides that solution is the task.

scamp's avatar

I’m with gooch !!

wonina's avatar

I seem to find that the legal system is different for different folks. I know someoneone that got only one D.U. I. and has that on her record for life, she used a public defender. Now another fellow I know has had six or seven D.U.I.‘s and paid a good lawyer to get them dropped to reckless driving. His latest D.U.I. he haddicapped a lady for life. As far as I know he never got jail time. He must of used the same lawyer. now my neighbor started dating a convicted felon who actually killed two teens while drinking and driving. Her story is that he paid a heavy price and is remorseful everyday. I don’t want to meet this guy or even have him in my neighborhood. He doesn’t have a license and I hear him quite often pulling up to my neighbor’s on his harley. She enjoys riding with him. He even got another D.U.I. after his prison term. I guess if he pays enough money he will be able to get his license back and it will help pay for some lawyer’s summer house. I believe that all laws should be equal to all no matter wheter you are rich are poor. They say if you have enough money you can get buy with murder. This last guy I spoke of doesn’t have a job and has been convicted of arson along with theft. That’s what I believe is what is posponing him from driving legally. I believe lawyers and judges need to take responsibility in some of the crimes that are out there and should be held responsible for these repeat offenders. They should of gave them the punishment to begin with. Its a breakdown in our justice system who is going to pay and who is going to get off. Why didn’t that girl with a public defender get it dropped to a reckless driving offense. It took that one offense and she NEVER drinks and Drives. It just aggravates me to know end how poor are treated differently than people with money. We all need to pay the consequenses for our own mistakes. There shouldn’t be a different rule book for if you have money or not. I just don’t like seeing good folks getting burnt by our legal system and the bad that keep repeating their offenses get off. Why are they getting off so easy? My answer to that is they shouldn’t. You pay the price for the crime- no matter who you are. Just my thoughts.

Kraigmo's avatar

I think we’ve solved the social problem of drunk driving, more or less. Of course, there’s still going to be exceptions to that, and unfortunately you being the victim of a drunk driver, are an exception to that.

But without any cruel measures, we’ve managed to reduce drunk driving greatly in this country. And yes the man who hit your car, should have his car taken away, for sure. I’m surprised there’s states left that don’t do that. And if he can’t afford to pay you, you should be able to put a 5% lien on all future earnings this guy makes. No more than that, or he’d never work, of course.

We just need to stay vigilant, far as the education and proper penalties go. But what we’re doing as a culture is mostly working. We just need a little more. On this issue anyway. To make this issue more serious to the public, we also need to legalize all crimes that are inherently victimless. We need to treat guys like the guy who hit your car… WAY worse than we treat prostitutes and pot growers. But it’s not like that yet.

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