Field Sobriety Tests

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by RJM62, May 21, 2020.

  1. RJM62

    RJM62 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Isn't there some better ways to do field sobriety checks than to ask people to do bizarre things that have nothing to do with driving?

    I was talking to a friend of mine who's a deputy sheriff, and he told me that many people who haven't had a thing to drink fail them, but others who are three sheets to the wind can pass them. So what's the point?

    I'd think a tablet based app involving tapping moving balls, predicting which of a number of goals a moving ball is going to enter, or blocking balls from entering a goal (as in an arcade game), would be much more accurate and relevant than standing on one foot and picking your left nostril with your right index finger while farting downwind with one eye closed.

    Rich
     
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  2. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Unless you're stone cold sober, it's best in most states to decline the FSTs which are nothing but an opportunity to incriminate yourself. Note, that EVERYBODY (even falling down drunks) thinks they passed the FSTs. It's not the ability to do the tasks themselves (walking the line, whatever), it's the officer's observations of things you do while you are performing them. It's highly subjective and can get you busted even when you are well below the per se limit.

    Generally, when an officer says that doing something will make things easier, he means easier for him (to get evidence of your guilt).
     
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  3. RJM62

    RJM62 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    It's not something I ever expect to have to worry about. I've had to deal with the aftermath too many times. It just seems to me that there must be more accurate, objective ways to do the tests.

    Rich
     
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  4. wrbix

    wrbix Pattern Altitude

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    I’ve always wondered what would REALLY happen if “a friend” refused a field sobriety test and insisted on a legal chain of evidence blood alcohol measurement at a local ER.......I have in my doctoring days spent a fair amount of time in and around ERs and never saw a LEO escorting a suspect for same.
     
  5. atbroome

    atbroome Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Me neither, but there was the time a cop was following me down a back road in early spring and I dodged a few pot holes. He proceeded to pull me over. Based on his questions, he clearly thought I was drunk. I was not, it was just a really crappy road after a rough winter. I was not about to drive over massive holes in the road just because there was a cop driving behind me.

    While my lack of inebration was obvious to both of us as soon as I rolled down the window and started answering his questions, he still insisted on going through all of them before letting me go. If he had deiced to be a pain, or wanted to get me, he certainly could have made me get out an perform a FST
     
  6. jimhorner

    jimhorner Line Up and Wait

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    Actually, no he couldn’t. He could have _requested_ that you submit to a FST, but he could not have made you do one. You are well within your rights to refuse one, and I believe you should. The FST is used by LE to establish probable cause. Why would one submit to that? Just say no. You do have to exit the vehicle if told to do so by LE, but you don’t have to perform a FST.
     
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  7. RJM62

    RJM62 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I do know that EMS often brings them in, especially if there was an accident. If the patient hasn't been arrested yet, there will be a notation on the chart that the police agency requests DUI / DUID testing and the officer's contact information. If they have been arrested, there usually will be an arrest report or similar police agency paperwork, as well as a notation on the chart. And, of course, the officer.

    Rich
     
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  8. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Worst than "probable cause," it can be used against you in court either in addition to or in the event that they don't have an admissible test showing per se intoxication. I've seen it happen lots of time in Virginia courts. If you're in certain places (DC is notable), a low chemical test, won't mean much as they will accept absolute crap officer's statements as to the intoxication despite it.
     
  9. YooperMooney

    YooperMooney Pre-takeoff checklist

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    DUI arrests are money making machines. $15-20k spent for a victimless crime. All that money goes to the court, the attorneys, the alcohol addiction & treatment Centers, and victim compensation funds.
    On the other hand, driving around under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is not acceptable behaviour. The public had made this clear by electing officials that allow FST’s and repercussions for refusing to do the FST charades.
    Maybe you could try lobbying to have LEO’s utilize different standards in order initiate traffic stops and also overhaul the justice system.
     
  10. FLEXCopMNPD

    FLEXCopMNPD Filing Flight Plan

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    You can decline to take the FST and also refuse to take the breath or blood test, but you should know that by accepting your driver's license you have given implied consent that you will submit to those tests if asked by a law enforcement officer. Failure to test normally results in an additional charge.

    With regards to the FSTs, they are a fairly accurate assessment of intoxication by alcohol. While they are not fool proof, they give a pretty reasonable indication of the intoxication level of a person who indicates based on the tasks. If properly administered, which is really the crux of most arguments against them, the tasks are not subjective. If your local department is doing anything other than the three national approved and highly studied tasks then I would concede that they are probably doing things wrong. The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) task is the most accurate of the three Nationally approved tasks. If a person indicates on any of the HGN tasks, which is based on the involuntary jerking of the eyes, the odds are high they are legally impaired. There are specific tests you can administer if you suspect impairment by drugs but you have to be properly trained and certified to administer.

    There are exceptions and conditions that a person could have that show false positives, but a good Officer asks specific questions to rule those out prior to administering the tasks. Of course the best way to avoid getting a DUI is to not drink and drive, AT ALL. I was almost killed by a DUI Driver back in 1997 while at work, so my sympathy for people who drink and drive is pretty much zero. With as much attention that Drinking and Driving has gotten over the last 30 years or so if you decide it's a good idea then you kinda deserve what you get if you get caught doing it.

    Full disclosure, I have been a Police Officer for going on 25 years now in a pretty large city. I definitely consider myself fortunate to have had some world class training. I also understand that not all Departments have the funding or luxury to provide their Officers with the same level of training, which is sad. I cringe watching most "Cops" style shows, so understand the frustration people get with dealing with Officers from Departments that aren't as professional as they should be.
     
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  11. FLEXCopMNPD

    FLEXCopMNPD Filing Flight Plan

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    I have an entire torso of scars and internal injuries that would contradict your assertion that DUI is a "victimless" crime.
     
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  12. flyingron

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    Victimless is somewhat of a misnomer. Society is harmed by criminal behavior. A criminal prosecution is not victim vs. defendant. It is the public at large, as represented by the state that is the plaintive party. I spent years as a paramedic and I've seen the toll that drunk driving causes.

    However, the very legitimate threat of intoxicated drivers and the enforcement against such, is sullied by shoddy enforcement and prosecution. It's often a jurisdictional problem. I have little tolerance for the (DC) Metropolitan Police Forces abuse of the laws in order to intimidate citizens. On the other hand, some states are far too ineffective in their prosecutions.
     
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  13. RJM62

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    Spend some time working EMS and I think you'll regret the "victimless" part of your post.

    Rich
     
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  14. RJM62

    RJM62 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    That's interesting. Thanks.

    How do you handle, for example, an elderly person who's not too steady on their feet even when sober, a person with an inner ear infection or balance disorder, a paraplegic driving a car with hand controls, or someone with a tic due to a neurological disorder?

    I have no patience with drunk drivers and no problem with enforcement. I just wonder if better tests are possible.

    Rich
     
  15. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I've seen good lawyers beat the FSTs on slightly disabled defendants. It's pretty lame science. I myself, stone cold sober, can have HGN artifacts at times. Just the way my eyes work. There's a lot of bullhockey that passes itself off as legitimate science in courts of law.
     
  16. YooperMooney

    YooperMooney Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I have worked over 20 years in public safety as a firefighter/paramedic/police officer and I still feel that way. Yes, there are obvious exceptions; if there is injury involved it’s no longer “victimless”. It’s just my generalization of the entire DUI realm. Apples to apples, DUI involved matters are treated much more harsh than distracted or careless drivers.
    Trust me, I have no respect for alcoholics nor want them behind the wheel. The way “the system” handles it seems to be a real crap show.
     
  17. YooperMooney

    YooperMooney Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I agree; a lot of this could be handled much quicker without doing the FST charades. You would think that after decades of DUI enforcement that there would be further scientific advances. Why are we still using the dinosaur BAC Datamasters? You’d think that the PBT technology would have increased to the point that each would be certified for official accurate readings instead of a 50lb behemoth Datamaster. Now the potheads are in full force yet I have to call in a specialist.
     
  18. FLEXCopMNPD

    FLEXCopMNPD Filing Flight Plan

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    Obviously those situations would fall into the exceptions category and offer reasonable explanations for whatever caused an officer to suspect possible impairment. If those issues were enough to cause them to get pulled over then I would question if they should really be driving in the first place.
     
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  19. RJM62

    RJM62 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    True enough, if they were driving erratically. I also suppose that most cops quickly learn that many old people tend to drive slowly; so an old fart driving 10 mph under the limit with a death grip on the steering wheel, but not otherwise erratically, wouldn't arouse the same suspicion as a younger person doing the same. At some point you have to trust in the officers' training and judgment.

    I still wonder, however, if a halfway-decent game coder couldn't come up with a better tool to measure spatial orientation, coordination, and response time. I've seen troopers doing FST's in torrential rainstorms and blizzards during holiday weekends. I doubt they were having a lot of fun doing them, either.

    Thanks for your perspective on this.

    Rich
     
  20. RJM62

    RJM62 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I have issues with the roadblocks on constitutional grounds, although less so now than I used to because they're implemented more sensibly nowadays. I remember when major highways were backed up for miles for random roadblocks, which I thought was unreasonable absent probable cause. Nowadays they tend to focus more on entrance ramps (at least where I live), which is far less of an intrusion, causes no delay to speak of, and is therefore much more reasonable, in my opinion. It's probably also more effective to stop drunks before they get on the highway, but that's just a hunch.

    "Victimless" still rankles me, though. The accident chain began with the decision to drive while impaired, something that is always avoidable. It's hard to come up with a scenario in which someone had no choice but to drive while intoxicated.

    Rich
     
  21. YooperMooney

    YooperMooney Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Thankfully Michigan does not allow DUI checkpoints; it’s too much of an intrusion. The US Supreme Court doesn’t agree. I’ve never been part of a DUI rodeo so I don’t know much on DUI checkpoints.
     
  22. YooperMooney

    YooperMooney Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Hah that’s because that trooper is being “that guy”. The entire DUI arrest timeline takes an average (small town) flat foot several hours. Yeah, the Alcohol Enforcement Team dudes and dudettes are much more efficient but it’s quite time consuming to do every step by-the-book as attorneys eat up any misstep. Small departments take a serious hit in law enforcement coverage when an officer is tied up because Suzy Driver failed a FST, is 0.02 over the limit on-scene, and will probably blow below the limit at the Datamaster. Meanwhile if I need backup for a domestic, fight, etc., Mr DUI is too busy dealing with Suzy Driver crying her eyes out. The young and restless officers seem to love arresting anything that moves.
    I hope one day that new tech will enhance any sort of efficiencies that are left to be squeezed out of a suspected DUI encounter. IMHO It’s a tough balance of being out there detecting and deterring real crime versus dealing with extremely time consuming frivolous matters. Seems like when discretion actually still existed that policing was more effective (at least in my environments).
    The typical alcoholic will always be alcoholic until they kill their self. I hate alcohol for many reasons personal to me.
     
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  23. RJM62

    RJM62 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    They used to be a nightmare when they blocked major roads, but I haven't been stuck in one of those in a very long time. Nowadays they mainly set them up on local or secondary roads and on the entrance ramps to major roads. That's a minor-enough intrusion that I have no issues with it. It's rare that the interaction and delay take more than a minute or two unless a driver gets obnoxious or is actually drunk.

    I also got stopped at a roadblock at an exit ramp once. That was a bit unusual. There may have been some other reason for that one, but they decided to ask people if they'd been drinking while they had them there anyway.

    Especially around holidays, we also have to deal with anti-terror roadblocks at bridges and tunnels from time to time. That happens downstate more so than up here. Those roadblocks are a huge pain in the ass because they typically involve a brief inspection of the vehicle's contents. It may take less than a minute per vehicle; but with thousands of vehicles in the queue, it can easily create a nightmare. A few Christmases ago, a trip that should have taken me three hours took closer to seven.

    If the authorities have chatter suggesting a credible threat to the bridge or tunnel, however, I'm not sure they have much choice in the matter.

    My "old" workaround was to shunpike my way around the busier crossings as best as I could. My newer one is to let Magic Earth navigate for me right from the start of the trip. I've come to believe it has the best traffic avoidance of any vehicle navigation app available. Every time I've chosen to override its suggestions because they "didn't make any sense," I've regretted it.

    Rich
     
  24. Ventucky Red

    Ventucky Red Cleared for Takeoff

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    I guess there was no victim when I came home one day and found a notice on my door to call the CHP.

    I guess there was no victim when I had to go the coroners office to identify and claim a body.

    I guess there was no victim when I had to call someones parents to tell then their daughter was killed by a drunk driver

    I guess there was no victim when the world lost a very compassionate pediatrician.

    I guess there was no victim huh!

    Maybe, just "effing" maybe if they make it painful for some, it will the lessen the odds for others.
     
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  25. YooperMooney

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    Your anecdote of one individual isolated incident had a victim out of thousands of similar matters that had no “victim”. So do we uniformly slam the book on anyone convicted of operating while impaired? If you were a juror in a trial regarding a DUI arrest would you prejudge the defendant based on your tragic experience?
    I just become somewhat numb to the common brow beating of “you could have ______ (killed someone, hurt someone, etc.)!” when nothing actually happened.
     
  26. bflynn

    bflynn Final Approach

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    You mean, like an inner ear infection that impairs balance? My mother never drank a drop of alcohol in her life. She was once stopped and made to do "stupid human tricks" and failed them. Later she found out about the infection, but not before costing my parents several thousand dollars.

    In the end, the deciding factor was that the police refused to collect blood evidence and therefore only had the single FST, which became questionable because of the doctor's report saying "affected her balance". I understand that the arresting officer probably knew she had not been drinking and thought the FST alone would earn him a notch in his gun.
     
  27. YooperMooney

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    [mention]bflynn [/mention] That is what drives me crazy. It takes an incredible amount of time and money to defend oneself over an entirely questionable event. She was either impaired or not; these FST’s split hairs. Again, this is where good discretion pays dividends. If I was that guys FTO I would have slapped him in the head. It’s fairly obvious when someone is smashed and not fit to be behind the wheel. Otherwise his/her suspicion should have been quelled and move on.
     
  28. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    You do not have to perform sobriety tests. There is no implied consent in your drivers license that suspends your constitutional right to not incriminate yourself. You do have to submit to a Breathalyzer or a test for BAC. And not drinking and driving is a damn good idea.

    I love alcohol, probably more than I should. My waistline would be slimmer and my wallet fatter were it not so. I don't drink and drive ever because I spent a lot of effort, time and coin acquiring the privileges to fly, and wouldn't give that up for alcohol. I don't drink at all outside my house unless I have a designated driver.
     
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  29. jimhorner

    jimhorner Line Up and Wait

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    YES! No one is ever forced to get in a vehicle and drive it after taking a drink. So, absolutely throw the book at them. I’d like to see a one strike policy on this. Drive under the influence and lose your driving privilages forever. Plus confiscation of the vehicle and jail time. Operating a vehicle after drinking is, to me, the same as firing a gun towards a crowd.
     
  30. YooperMooney

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    The problem with that analogy is that if one shoots into a crowd it is very likely that someone will be hit; a victim. If someone is 0.01 over or 0.30 over the legal limit goes for a ride it is not remotely close that someone will be a victim versus the crowd-shooter. Thus it would be quite an unusual punishment. Where would we set the bar on that? Driving while sleep deprived is substantially more dangerous than an alert driver. Should they lose their driving privileges for life too?
    When a drunk driver kills or maims someone, I agree that there should be an appropriate response. But not every single DUI arrest is for someone that is blown-out drunk. In my experience most appear normal to the untrained eye. I think you’d be surprised how many people are on the road during the evening with some sort of ETOH in their system. Most people can handle a a couple glasses of wine and hit the highway without ending it in a fireball. It’s the alcoholics that blow 0.35 and can nearly pass a FST that scare me.
    Regardless, the 1-2 glass of wine guy who just left the Cheesecake Factory who I pulled over for a burned out taillight doesn’t deserve a $15,000 debt for being a hair over an arbitrarily set BAC level. Plus I don’t want to deal with a court date on my off-day.
     
  31. PaulS

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    Different states different rules, best not to test them. Massachusetts you can refuse the FST without consequence, but you must take the chemical test, either breathalyser or blood or lose your license. In NH, you are required to take the FST and Blood test or lose your license. My understanding is that they qualify a license to drive as a privilege versus a right.

    Bottom line, don't drink and drive.
     
  32. PaulS

    PaulS Final Approach

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  33. Tarheelpilot

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    I did not work for 25 years but I found the HGN to be the most reliable. I never had a false positive.

    also every state has their own laws which vary quite a bit. In NC there is a provision for the driver to request a pre arrest BAC test. If results are below the legal limit and there is no other evidence that meets the elements of driving under influence then it’s no charge and no arrest.

    it really is something everyone should be familiar with in their jurisdiction. Not every LEO is good at their job. Understanding the laws where you live/drive can protect you. Never drinking and driving is not always enough.
     
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  34. jimhorner

    jimhorner Line Up and Wait

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    Here’s where I set the bar. If one chooses to operate a vehicle which has the possibility of killing or seriously injuring someone else while not able to focus completely and totaly on operating that vehicle safely, whether the reason is alcohol, drugs, medication, sleep deprivation, texting, or whatever, then yes, I am in favor of that person losing the privilage of operating a vehicle forever. No one is ever forced to get into a car and drive while drunk, sleep deprived, medicated, etc. Having a significant punishment for making such a significant error in judgement might make people actually think before getting behind the wheel.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2020 at 12:52 AM
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  35. Bacho

    Bacho Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Maybe not forever, but thats about how I feel About drinking vs everything else.

    I am far more concerned these days about people texting. I wish something meaningful would get done about it.
     
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  36. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot En-Route

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    Im glad it’s not up to you.
     
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  37. RJM62

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    The problem with zero-tolerance approaches to pretty much anything is that the unintended bad consequences almost always outweigh the desired positive consequences. Zero-tolerance policies are designed to eliminate the need to think, so few people take the time to think through the unintended consequences. Sometimes, in fact, it takes a healthy dose of cynicism to predict them.

    Of the top of my head, the consequences of a policy such as you suggest would include:
    • More attempts to bribe cops at traffic stops. Some will accept the bribes.
    • More attempts to bribe judges. Some will accept the bribes.
    • More corruption in police department evidence departments.
    • More corruption among courtroom staff.
    • More creative plea-bargaining strategies by lawyers, many of which will border on corruption. It would be like the common strategy of pleading guilty to a no-point violation with a huge fine rather than a moving violation that carries points -- but on steroids.
    • More identity theft and identity falsification.
    • More forged licenses.
    • A black market in actual licenses:
      • People who don't need licenses obtaining them and selling them to others with similar appearances;
      • Selling licenses held by recently-deceased relatives to others with similar appearances;
      • Reporting one's license as lost or stolen and selling it to someone with a similar appearance;
      • More corrupt DMV employees issuing licenses that will pass roadside checks;
      • More hacking of DMV computer systems.
    • More people simply driving without licenses.
    • More hit-and-run accidents.
    • More people driving without insurance.
    • More theft of license plates.
    It's a lot like gun control. New York City has some of the strictest gun control laws in the country. But it's also where people who are unable to buy guns legally go to buy them. Prohibition breeds ways to get around it, so New York City has a huge black market in illegal guns.

    The other problem is that a DUI of a borderline nature (barely over the limit) is a mistake that someone can make even if they're trying to be responsible. Lots of people use oversimplified timing strategies at social gatherings, and may actually believe that they waited long enough after they stopped drinking to be safe and legal. I have no problem with punishing these folks in a way that is expensive, inconvenient, and likely to make then more careful in the future. But a lifetime revocation for blowing 0.08 versus 0.07 is a bit draconian.

    Rich
     
  38. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Unlike other states, we aren't very aggressive on drivers without licenses. In Virginia, it was criminal and those who were recurrent violators were locked up. Down here, you can get away for a long time. I know someone who has various blocks on her license and it's not slowed her down in the least.
     
  39. Ventucky Red

    Ventucky Red Cleared for Takeoff

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2013
    Messages:
    1,179
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    Display name:
    John S
    Wow, just "effing" wow... You are not seeing a bigger picture here. If you are dumb enough to drink and drive, call me, I'll come pick you up and drive you home, or pay for your taxi..

    In answer to your jury question, last time I was called I was excused because they ask this very question. My response was, "if there is a jury trial for a DUI, chances are the defendant is looking at some jail time which tells me this is not his first rodeo."
     
  40. YooperMooney

    YooperMooney Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2019
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    126
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    Display name:
    YooperMooney
    I didn’t realize that we were only referring to alcohol related fatal motor vehicle crashes in California; did I miss something?
    Sure seems like even with 38% that alcohol related fatals are still behind speeding, careless/ reckless, and distracted driving. Four out of five people can see that. I’m curious if those stats also breakdown the “alcohol related” numbers as far as how many fatal wrecks did not even involve alcohol as a contributing factor. “Figures lie and liars figure”.