NMA Article: A Blueprint For Reasonable Drunk Driving Laws
As a followup to last week’s post on the possibility of mandatory breathalyzers in every vehicle, we thought it would be worth going over the organization’s stance on DUI/DWI laws:
The NMA supports drinking and driving regulations based on reasonable standards that differentiate between responsible, reasonable behavior and reckless, dangerous behavior.
The NMA does not support “zero tolerance” concepts, nor does it endorse unconstitutional enforcement and judicial procedures that violate motorists’ rights.
- We believe that penalties for DUI/DWI should be related to the degree of risk involved, and that these penalties be equated with penalties for equal-risk violations of other traffic safety laws.
- We support those legislative and enforcement initiatives that are effective in achieving stated goals of deterrence and removal of impaired drivers. We do not support initiatives based on revenge, political expedience, or emotional hyperbole.
- We believe that all Americans should enjoy the same Constitutional rights and privileges. Legislative or enforcement initiatives denying these rights and privileges to motorists violate this uniform application of Constitutional standards.
- We believe in basing laws and penalties on actual evidence of impairment whenever possible. Blood alcohol content should only be used as prima facie evidence of impairment, and there should be flexibility in laws that base penalties on blood alcohol content.
- We oppose drunk-driving roadblocks on the grounds that they violate protection from warrantless search and seizure, and fail to meet probable cause standards. They have not been shown to be effective at deterring impaired driving.
- DWI penalties based on blood alcohol counts should be graduated to reflect the potential severity of impairment. The more severe penalties should be phased in at a BAC of .15 where impairment begins to directly correlate with accident involvement. Lower penalties should be adopted for less severe DWI violations.
- We support increased penalties for repeat offenders, but maintain that rehabilitation be the primary goal in all but the most severe cases.
- Any mandated BAC test must be based on clear reasonable suspicion of impairment, not an unrelated traffic violation.
- Breathalyzer tests should be used for screening purposes only. They should have no standing as actual evidence of Blood Alcohol Content. However, we support that the driver always have the right to a blood test and be notified of that right should he wish to dispute the results of the breath test.
- We are concerned with deterring impaired driving, not with regulating how a driver might become impaired. A driver is equally responsible regardless of where the drinking takes place be it at home, in a vehicle, or at a commercial establishment.
- A “technically” impaired driver should not automatically be more heavily penalized if they are involved in an accident. The penalties should be based on the severity of the accident and the extent to which the impaired driver was at fault.
- We oppose so-called “Administrative License Suspensions” since they are not an effective deterrent and violate the right to due process.
- We support the detainment of any driver arrested on an impaired driving charge until sufficient time has passed to allow the individual to safely drive, or for other transportation arrangements to be made.
- We support the right to a jury trial for all accused traffic violators, particularly defendants accused of severe offenses for which long license suspension or jail time could be imposed.
- We oppose measures that revoke or withhold a driver’s license that do not directly relate to driving. As related to drinking laws, we are opposed to license suspension for non-driving related violations.
- We do not support age-based BAC standards (e.g., “zero tolerance”) for persons under 21 years of age.
- We do not support a blood alcohol content standard of .08% for non-rebuttable conviction of DWI.
Periodically, a member will write and express concern over the NMA’s support of “drunk drivers.” This is usually motivated by our opposition to some particular anti-DWI initiative.
The NMA does not support, encourage, or condone drunk driving.
We do support constructive and effective solutions to the drunk driving problem that are fair, equitable, and respective of fundamental rights.
For more information on DUI/DWI issue, visit the DUI/DWI section of our website.
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A Blueprint For Reasonable Drunk Driving Laws
© 2008 NMA