I was asked a question about civil liberties at the recent debate held at the Wealthy Theater. I gave a brief mention to ‘no refusal checkpoints and forced blood draws’. Here’s a more detailed explanation than I could hope to cover verbally in two minutes in a debate forum. I don’t want this coming to Grand Rapids. Rationale (from The Free Thought Project.com article):
- If our ultimate goals are to reduce driver impairment and maximize highway safety, we should be punishing reckless driving. It shouldn’t matter if it’s caused by alcohol, sleep deprivation, prescription medication, text messaging, or road rage. If lawmakers want to stick it to dangerous drivers who threaten everyone else on the road, they can dial up the civil and criminal liability for reckless driving, especially in cases that result in injury or property damage.
- Doing away with the specific charge of drunk driving sounds radical at first blush, but it would put the focus back on impairment, where it belongs. It might repair some of the civil-liberties damage done by the invasive powers the government says it needs to catch and convict drunk drivers. If the offense were reckless driving rather than drunk driving, for example, repeated swerving over the median line would be enough to justify the charge. There would be no need for a cop to jam a needle in your arm alongside a busy highway.
- Scrapping the DWI offense in favor of better enforcement of reckless driving laws would also bring some logical consistency to our laws, which treat a driver with a BAC of 0.08 much more harshly than, say, a driver distracted by his kids or a cell phone call, despite similar levels of impairment. The punishable act should be violating road rules or causing an accident, not the factors that led to those offenses. Singling out alcohol impairment for extra punishment isn’t about making the roads safer. It’s about a lingering hostility toward demon rum.
I am not in favor of nor do I support drunk driving, but I am firmly opposed to no refusal checkpoints. I believe in consistent laws and in civil liberties. You needed papers in Nazi Germany to move about; Germany’s attack on civil liberties started with police state checkpoints. Will our futures be more secure if we have leaders at least at the local level who understand this and work to fight against it?
Are warrantless checkpoints already a problem in Grand Rapids? Have you had personal experience? If so, please contact me or leave a comment.