General Question

mattbrowne's avatar

Should people be forced to have to try everything to prevent a drunk person from climbing into the driver's seat of his or her car?

Asked by mattbrowne (31585points) May 29th, 2009

Usually there are no problems with drunk people if they don’t get aggressive (some drunks do). And there’s no trouble if they make it to the john in time before ruining your carpet. The serious trouble starts when they climb into the driver’s seat of a car. In Germany there’s now a law that can get you punished, if you knowingly have allowed a drunk person to drive and tried nothing to prevent it. You are required to literally take away the keys and call a cab for the drunk person or find some other means to get him or her home safely. What do you think about this? Would you be in favor of such a law? I think there are pros and cons.

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23 Answers

MrGV's avatar

Knock their ass out with a blunt weapon.

swtsally's avatar

i think you should b/c you’re not only putting that person’s life in danger by allowing them to get behind the wheel, but you’re also putting others at a risk of getting into an accident b/c of it.

Bluefreedom's avatar

People shouldn’t be “forced” to do anything. That makes it sound like we live in a police state and the Gestapo is nearby ready to make us do something whether it is or isn’t against our will.

I would hope that someone, in good conscience, would attempt to do whatever they could to persuade someone not to get behind the wheel if they having been consuming alcohol. This is certainly what I would do. If the situation turned out to be problematic in that it might turn into a physical confrontation or worse, a simple phone call to the police to report the situation would be a huge step in the right direction.

dynamicduo's avatar

People should never be forced to do anything. What happens if a blunt weapon doesn’t work? Do you shoot that person? Because a drunk person driving a car is potentially a weapon, and many drunk drivers cause deaths.

I think people should not be held liable if they attempt to stop a drunk person with reasonable force, such as taking away their keys and subduing the person if they get in a rage.

I also think the laws that exist now are suitable. That is to say, the host of a party is responsible for their guests, and if they drive drunk, the host can be liable.

I don’t want to see laws progress past this point because you and I are not somehow responsible for other people’s choices, nor should we be obliged to take action. What if the drunk person has a knife and you get stabbed? There’s far too many grey areas here, and in my observations laws do not work in grey areas at all.

SirBailey's avatar

After trying to persuade the drunk not to drive, why not call the police if the drunk takes off in the car? This keeps the host out of it as far as the drunk is concerned. He need not even know the host called the police.

oratio's avatar

I do agree with @dynamicduo somewhat, but imo it also depends on the crime. I’ve read about people just walking by stabbed people, abuse and assault in progress and women obviously being raped. People should be liable for letting some crimes happen.

Not really decided on this example though. Would you be accessory to manslaughter if something happened? Fines for letting them drive?

swtsally's avatar

@dynamicduo i’m sure if you knew someone who was involved in an accident due to drunk driving whether they were the victims or the drunk behind the wheel you would wish someone had stopped them…even if they had a knife in their hand.

Steven0512's avatar

No, we should not be forced to…maybe if DUI punishments became ALOT stricter, the drunk could make his/her own decision not to drive.

icepebbles's avatar

Remember the Good Samaritan law on the last Seinfeld episode? It’s ridiculous to be punished for not stopping something from happening. You are not in control of others.

casheroo's avatar

@Steven0512 They are already strict. But, I don’t know what the punishment for DUIs are in Germany.

I don’t think a person should be held responsible for not stopping something. Of course they should try to stop a person, but they are not at fault for the actions of another.

GAMBIT's avatar

I think we are scared that the person may hurt themselves or someone else if they are intoxicated behind the wheel. If a friend or a bartender clearly sees that a person can barely make it to their car I think the responsible thing to do is offer to drive them home or at least call a taxi. If the person continues to refuse then there isn’t much else we can do.

mattbrowne's avatar

People should never be forced to do anything? What about non-assistance of a person in danger? What do you think about Good Samaritan laws?

DUI punishments are severe in Germany. But this doesn’t prevent some drivers from steering a vehicle and potentially harming or killing others.

icepebbles's avatar

@Steven0512: There is no need to make DUI punishments stricter. They are already near debilitating for someone who made a mistake. Keep in mind that additional (and very, very severe) punishments come with causing harm to another. If the drunk driver were to get into an accident or injure/kill another, then the consequences are quite extreme. As far as simply driving while under the influence without causing a problem, however, the current consequences are as strict as they can be while remaining within reason.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

As much as I like the idea of social responsibility and good Samaritans, I don’t want to be responsible for the drunks in the restaurant if I’m out with my own group or on a date. It irritates me people take less and less responsibility for themselves and their loved ones. Restaurant and bar owners already feel a lot of pressure to watch over their patrons but where to draw the line? I don’t want to see that kind of law here in the USA, I imagine a lot of business would shut down in fear and insurance companies would take advantage.

Judi's avatar

In California bar owners can be held liable if they let a drunk out and they kill someone, although I haven’t heard of any prosicutions.
I think that the effort is to force a bigger social stygma against drunk driving.
It worked for smoking and mandatory car seats.

casheroo's avatar

@Judi It’s like that in PA. A bar not far from me had to shut down, because a girl left and crashed into a telephone pole and died. They held the car responsible.
I’ve also been a waitress in Philadelphia, and we were told that we’d be held accountable if someone got wasted and left..so we had to flag people often.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

@casheroo: so if you’re on your tables, working for tips, it’s busy and people are turning over quickly, you also have to gauge how their holding their alcohol and trying to keep track of them so not to be held responsible if they leave and wreck? Cocktail servers should be put on salary with full benefits then; they don’t get paid nearly enough to babysit.

skfinkel's avatar

How many are killed by drunk drivers each year? (I don’t know the answer.)

We need to do something so that drunks and social drinkers do not have access to cars when they are drunk. Surely we can look at all the policies, tests, punishments, supports and see which ones work, and do them.

Even one death from a drunk driver is way too many.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

@skfinkel: I don’t know how they work but I know some people with prior DUI’s have a gadget on their cars now, kind of a breathalyzer that will disable the ignition if the person fails.

icepebbles's avatar

@skfinkel: I believe more people are killed by reckless sober drivers each year than by drunk drivers…

casheroo's avatar

@hungryhungryhortence One of those gadgets is called Ignition Interlock. If we had that installed in every car, I’d say half the driving population would have to stop driving, and probably no elderly. You have to blow extremely hard into it, for a certain amount of time. My husband had one, and I could never do it or the car would shut down. It’s harder than it looks.

LKidKyle1985's avatar

I do not know how the law is applied in germany, but if it was a law here in the states, I would not like it because it seems like it could easily be abused by an over zealous prosecutor who is trying to make examples of people. I mean really how are you going to prove or disprove that you didn’t try to stop them from driving? and what constitutes an “attempt” I mean all I have to say is, yeah I told him not to but he didn’t listen. Or you might end up with what would originally be an assault, and they just say, oh we didn’t want him to drive and he fought back. Or maybe you did give a serious attempt and they still say you didn’t try hard enough. Maybe you are drunk off your ass too and don’t think about it. Do we really want drunk people trying to stop drunk people from driving, that’s a recipe for assault. Also, as an American, you should not be responsible for you friends poor decision making, but maybe the Germans feel differently about this.
I think it is a good idea, but who ever made this law didn’t give much thought into how it will play out in real life situations.

mattbrowne's avatar

It’s a very controversial issue also in Germany. It’s a question of feeling responsible for others. If you observe a man beating a woman it’s very likely you intervene, or at least call 911, right? If you’re sober and you’re the witness of a totally drunk woman getting into her car why would you be less likely to intervene? She might kill an innocent pedestrian. Or another driver. Think of the ethics involved. I admit, there’s no easy solution.

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