16. December 2005 · Comments Off on BAC An Unjust Standard · Categories: Drug Prohibition, General, Politics

This from Max Borders at TCS Daily:

Whether you’re a 220 lb. guzzler with an iron liver or a 120 anorexic who’s just had her first drink, you will be evaluated by the same standard in determining whether you’re capable of driving. The standard in most states is a .08 blood-alcohol content or BAC. But other states have policies in which an even lower BAC can send you to jail. Recently, for example, the Washington D.C. city council voted in favor of raising its legal BAC from .01 to .05 — where between .05 and .079 police may use their discretion about whether to make an arrest.


It turns out that while the BAC standard is an objective standard for measuring the percentage of alcohol in the blood. It isn’t an objective standard of someone’s ability to drive safely. The very term DUI stands for “driving under the influence.” But the breathalyzer and other BAC measures can’t determine the influence of alcohol on one’s reaction times, faculties, and motor skills. If we were trying to determine whether someone is actually impaired, aren’t reaction times, faculties and motor skills what we ought to be looking at?

To be fair, there was a time in which the BAC standard made sense. In the absence of a better standard, a proxy standard would have had to suffice — just as age 65 might be a reasonable proxy standard for testing elderly drivers for the degenerative effects of aging.

I might also add that, while alcohol also generally lowers a person’s inhibitions, that effect varies greatly from one individual to another. I have in my life known several people who tend to throw caution to the wind after they’ve had a few drinks. I’ve also known others who recognize that they are below their peak performance level, and compensate with additional caution, just as a responsible senior citizen should.

These are the reasons the checkpoints advocated so vigorously by MADD, and similar organizations, are such a waste of valuable resources. Dangerous drunks make themselves known readily, by virtue of their actual driving, to even the casual lay observer – much more so to the trained and experienced patrol officer – so long as he/she is actually on patrol, not manning stationary checkpoints.

Hat Tip: InstaPundit

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