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"I just don't like being lied to."---Stan

Sober Drivers Menace America's Highways

Do drunk drivers really cause half of all traffic deaths? Not even close! As unbelievable as it sounds, the statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are grossly inflated by including many drivers who were not drunk. Also included are passengers with any sign that they were drinking and 2,000 tipsy or drunk pedestrians who are labeled as drivers. Finally, through profiling, they add a percentage of extra drivers who the police might have erroneously labeled as sober--they call this guesswork "the New Methodology". No wonder the number is so high! On top of all that, they claim that every accident is cause by the alcohol, never by speeding, bad weather, road hazards, suicide, the other driver, or any other factor.
         To be absolutely fair and accurate, the NHTSA does not use the term drunk driver. The vague Government Speak term now in vogue is impaired driver. And, the NHTSA in a bold move said in July 2003, that impaired drivers killed almost 18,000 people last year. They are now stating the following lie (win $20,000 if you can prove differently):

"Despite the tireless efforts of thousands of advocates, impaired drivers continue to kill someone every 30 minutes, nearly 50 people a day, and almost 18,000 citizens a year. NHTSA and its partners are working together to put a stop to these deadly statistics."---NHTSA website, March, 2004.

NHTSA definition: "Impaired driving can be defined as a reduction in the performance of critical driving tasks due to the effects of alcohol or other drugs. It is a serious crime that kills every 30 minutes."---NHTSA website, March, 2004

How did these deceptive word games result in the scary statistics that you see on TV? Back in the 1980’s, when drunk driving laws really were a farce, MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) started twisting the numbers to get attention. It worked. MADD was responsible for a much needed overhaul of the DUI laws. No one noticed when alcohol-related deaths morphed into the now common phrase “Half of all traffic deaths are caused by drunk drivers.” After all MADD and the NHTSA regularly swap employees and didn’t some politician say that the ends justify the means? So what’s the problem? Support the Mothers and put the drunks in jail. It’s a no-brainer.

Well, the Mothers have changed. When their founder, Candy Lightner left them, she expressed concerns that MADD was becoming an anti-alcohol crusader--a Mothers Against Drinking: "It has become far more neo-prohibitionist than I ever wanted or envisioned," she said. With a $44 million budget including $9.3 million in taxpayer money, MADD is now a male dominated big business pushing for tougher laws in all areas of alcohol sales, use and advertising much like the Anti-Saloon League in pre-Prohibition times. They got the .08 BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) law passed and are looking toward a .05 limit. The ultimate goal is .00—“You drink and drive. You lose”. The MADD/NHTSA slogan is already in use.

Is this a bad thing? If you are one of the proposed 93 million people stopped with no probable cause at a roadblock (sobriety checkpoint) by police (traffic safety partners) you may give pause. Being told that if you refuse to breath into a machine your license will be suspended on the spot for one year may prompt you to ask to speak to your lawyer first. Being told that you can't do that may get you thinking, “What about my Constitutional rights?”

And what if you were drinking? You feel ok, but the new limit only allows for a few drinks. Is that 4 or 3, or 2? As the limit drops, the arrest rate for casual drinkers rises. And the laws have gone from farce to harsh. First offense, no accident, can bring a month or more in jail and good-by driver's license for one year-(state laws vary). The issue: Freedom and fairness vs. perceived safety and revenge.

       This brings us back to the NHTSA math. Chief Justice Rhenquist in 1990 wrote the majority opinion allowing for sobriety checkpoints with no probable cause needed to stop you. His reasoning was that 25,000 drunk driving deaths (a figure 3,000 over the NHTSA number and more than double the actual total) made it ok to waive our Fourth Amendment rights. A 1998 case to allow drug sniffing dogs to check you out at the same stop was ruled unconstitutional, so drug traffickers and terrorists need not worry. UPDATE: In February, 2005, the Court ruled that is now ok for dogs to sniff your car at a routine traffic stop with no probable cause. Terrorists are still secure unless the bomb is on the front seat.

The laws are based on these deliberately deceptive government statistics which have scared the public into thinking that there are deadly drunk drivers at every intersection just waiting to kill them and their loved ones. Yes, drunk drivers do kill. In fact, nationally, 69% of the deaths are the drunk driver killing himself. Good riddance to them. Unfortunately the high BAC drunks are not the targets of the new laws. The casual drinker is now in the NHTSA/MADD sights, with penalties similar or the same as those for the heavy drinker. "Drivers in the .08 to .09 range often do not exhibit the blatant erratic driving of higher BAC offenders, so that the evidence for probable cause may not be present for stopping a vehicle," says MADD's Robert Voas. Let's call them closet drunks. Hence the roadblocks. Incidentally, the NHTSA numbers show that there were more deaths related to .01-.03 BAC drivers than those at .08-.09: (1.7% vs. 1.4%) and sober drivers kill 75.1% of the highway deaths.

Over $265 million has been spent to scare the American public over 20+ years. With that kind of money they could probably convince us that sober drivers are the real highway killers if they wanted to. How you spin the numbers depends on your goal. But then the Mothers would never lie. Would they?   

 MADD President, Karolyn Nummallee, “…we do not want to overlook the casual drinker. If you choose to drink, you should never drive. We will not tolerate drinking and driving—period.”

"The road to tyranny, we must never forget, begins with the destruction of the truth."-- William Jefferson Clinton

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