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DUI Defendant Wins Source Code to Breathalyzer 638

Posted by Zonk
from the one-way-to-fight-the-man dept.
MyrddinBach writes "CNet's Police Blotter column looks into a Minnesota drunk driving defendant case with a twist. The defendant says he needs the source code to the Intoxilyzer 5000EN to fight the charges in court. Apparently the company has agreed to turn over the code to the defense. 'A judge granted the defendant's request, but Michael Campion, Minnesota's commissioner in charge of public safety, opposed it. Minnesota quickly asked an appeals court to intervene, which it declined to do. Then the state appealed a second time. What became central to the dispute was whether the source code was owned by the state or CMI, the maker of the Intoxilyzer.'"
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DUI Defendant Wins Source Code to Breathalyzer

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  • Sigh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by WeAzElMaN (667859) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @04:26PM (#20175161)
    What a bitch. Just take the punishment - no matter how sober you think you are, those things are damn near never wrong. If it's above .08, just pony up for the fines already...
  • by erroneus (253617) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @04:29PM (#20175207) Homepage
    ...if they completely refused the defense access to the source code. There's more reasonable doubt to be had when there are "ominous secrets" from which to draw doubt. But now their only hope is to find reasonable doubt in the form of bugs in the source... a lot less likely.
  • Owner (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Intron (870560) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @04:30PM (#20175219)
    The code is owned by the company that makes the equipment. So what? Information which matters in a court case gets subpoenaed all the time. What makes software any different then private mail, bank account records, or anything else?
  • Re:Sigh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vux984 (928602) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @04:31PM (#20175231)
    On the other hand, what if he finds a bug? I'd let this guy off the hook in exchange for improving the software so that it works better in the future. And if he can't find a bug, he still gets convicted.

    Really this seems like a win-win for everyone involved.
  • Re:What about (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sokkalf (542999) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @04:32PM (#20175237) Homepage
    He's innocent until proven guilty.
  • Re:What about (Score:2, Insightful)

    by thc69 (98798) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @04:33PM (#20175257) Homepage Journal
    TFA doesn't say what level he tested at, but it's certainly possible that he was tested above the legal limit while well within the ability to drive decently. He may be a piece of shit for driving drunk, or he may be an unfortunate victim of the jerks who think that lowering the legal limit to an indecent level will make the roads safer.
  • Re:Sigh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SeanTobin (138474) * <.moc.liamtoh. .ta. .rtnuhdryb.> on Thursday August 09, 2007 @04:37PM (#20175303)

    On the other hand, what if he finds a bug?
    That's exactly what the state is worried about. If he does find a bug and is acquitted, suddenly every DUI conviction using data provided this device has to be thrown out. The state doesn't really care about releasing the source code, it cares about maintaining the convictions.
  • Re:What about (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jacobcaz (91509) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @04:38PM (#20175317) Homepage

    TFA doesn't say what level he tested at, but it's certainly possible that he was tested above the legal limit while well within the ability to drive decently. He may be a piece of shit for driving drunk, or he may be an unfortunate victim of the jerks who think that lowering the legal limit to an indecent level will make the roads safer.
    I don't really agree with the whole "he was tested above the legal limit while well within the ability to drive decently." arguement. I won't dispute that some people can hold their liquor better than others (e.g. have a higher tolerance), but the simple facts are: alcohol impairs your ability to respond. Also, alcohol impairs cognitive functioning even when motor functioning appears normal.

    I am all for lowering the limit even below 0.08, not because I want more "gubermint" in by business, but because it's just safer for everyone.

    Now bring on all the people who say, "but..but...but, it's the same thing with cell phones."

    Yep - ban them too! :-)

  • by grolschie (610666) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @04:50PM (#20175467)
    C'mon. We shouldn't rely on such devices as evidence anyway. IMO devices are useful for detection, but not conclusive. In my country electronic devices are used to detect alcamahol all the time, but these are not used as evidence. The defendant must immediately give a blood sample - or be prosecuted for not supplying blood.

    When early electronic breathalizers first came out here years ago they either didn't detect the alcohol at all, or they false alarmed by detecting toothpaste and aftershave. The blood test is conclusive. Why should we trust these new tech devices? I mean people here successfully challenged the accuracy of speedcameras and other such devices. We want to be sure.
  • Re:Language? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bluesman (104513) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @04:51PM (#20175481) Homepage
    "Brainf**k"

    Thank you for editing out that nasty word, or reading that might have fucked up people's brains.

    This joke brought to you from Larry Wall, courtesy of Bluesman Slashdot Posting, INC.
  • Re:Sigh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @04:53PM (#20175495) Journal
    Which is precisely why the diminution of old-fashioned sobriety tests in favor of technology is a bad thing. In the olden days, if you stank of liquor and were driving erratically, that was often enough to get your ass kicked. The cops, however, are an incredibly lazy bunch who just want a magic blackbox that's absolutely right. Now they're being faced with the dangers of that argument. If this breathalyzer is hokey, then it's not the defendant's fault, but the fault of the manufacturer and a lazy-ass government and law enforcement types.
  • by Animaether (411575) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @04:54PM (#20175509) Journal
    is two terms... what part makes it "reasonable"?

    Don't get me wrong, but if "the possibility, however remote, that a device, at the time at which it was used, did not operate according to specification" makes for 'reasonable doubt', then you would never see another speeding ticket, DUI ticket, etc.

    Back on-topic.. don't people who get caught with a breathalyzer (is what they're more known as over here) get taken to the station for a more thorough and accurate, possibly blood, test to determine the blood alcohol level, before going through the steps of fining? As far as I know, the breathalyzers for that exact reason are set up to be moderately lax, as false positives would just be a giant waste of time + money on both the part of the government -and- the person who got tested, causing collateral damages everywhere.
  • by Vellmont (569020) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @04:55PM (#20175521) Homepage

    The toxylizer that was used to mark him needs to be confiscated and reverse-engineered to see if the code running on it, is effectively produced by the source code in question


    Nonsense. You could take your argument to the next level and say there's something different about the hardware in the machine. Black-box testing of this thing should prove that it works (and ultimately is a better test than looking at source code).

    I can't believe this thing is all that complicated as far as inputs go (like a guy blowing in a tube). To prove it works you'd only need to test it against a series of knowns. That'll easily prove it's not a "random number generator".

    This case is just about someone with a chunk of money that's trying to get out of drunk driving. While I think it's a good thing that you can get the source code to something that's effectively testifying against you, I think this case is hardly anything approaching a miscarriage of justice.
  • by u0berdev (1038434) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @04:57PM (#20175547) Journal
    To get drunk, get caught, demand the breathalyser source, so he can rip off it and create his own competing product! Muhaha! It's genius!
  • Re:What about (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bluesman (104513) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @04:58PM (#20175555) Homepage
    "I am all for lowering the limit even below 0.08, not because I want more "gubermint" in by business, but because it's just safer for everyone."

    It would be "just safer for everyone" to require that you don't drive for a week after drinking alcohol, and to wear a helmet whenever you do, and yet it's not a law.

    Doing things in the name of safety while ignoring the cost is a bad way to do anything.
  • Re:What about (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 09, 2007 @05:00PM (#20175593)
    LOL, a very US-centric, M.A.D.D brainwashed view... (wash "Won't someone think of the CHILDREN!!" rinse repeat)

    Why don't we just bring back prohibition while we're at it?

    Having spent time in North Italy (Lots of mountain roads), I can say that I saw many people out to lunch split a bottle of wine between 2 or 3 people, and drive back to work. In all my time there, I didn't see one wreck. Not one.

    I come back stateside and in one day see 10 obviously fatal wrecks on one road. Flat dry pavement.

    Speed doesn't kill. Some alcohol doesn't kill. An extremely lax drivers education/training/licensing policy coupled with general distraction and self-ceneredness (I'm the king of the road get the hell out of my way so I can get my snot-nosed brats to soccer practice) absolutely does. Speed and alcohol can make that worse, but they are far far from the boogieman many idiots in the US make them out to be.

    I say fix the real problems, and roll back the levels to where they were in the 70s, enforce those levels effectively, and shut the hell up and stop harassing relatively innocent tax payers.

    My $0.02US.

  • Re:Sigh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vux984 (928602) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @05:06PM (#20175675)
    That's exactly what the state is worried about. If he does find a bug and is acquitted, suddenly every DUI conviction using data provided this device has to be thrown out. The state doesn't really care about releasing the source code, it cares about maintaining the convictions.

    If they were convicted by evidence from defective equipment, it SHOULD be thrown out. That is a founding principle of our system of justice. We as a society prefer that the guilty walk rather than imprison the innocent; or at least we as a society used to think that... and I still do... but I don't think I speak for society anymore. :(

    That said, even I don't think a found bug should be an automatic acquittal. After all it could be reading lower than it should have been! But yeah, if they find a bug that caused it to read double the actual amount under various circumstances then I would have no qualms about throwing out any DUI convictions it caused.

  • Re:What about (Score:4, Insightful)

    by xero314 (722674) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @05:07PM (#20175677)

    If he was stopped in a random traffic stop/check point
    Traffic stops are never random, ever. I'd even bet that beyond 1 or 2 rare cases in history have the even been semi-random (cops don't flip coins to determine who they pull over). It is possible that this was at a designated check point, in which case it is also rare that everyone at a check point receives a breathalyzer test, and even rarer are the test administered randomly. The is an interview process that always takes place before a breathalyzer test. These interviews are to judge a persons current cognitive state. Once the officer determines that your state is impaired do they follow up with a breathalyzer, which is do to know what to charge you with, not if to charge you.

    From reading the article you can see that getting the source code is not about proving it accurate or not, but that cases have been thrown out previously because the company refused to release the source code. In this case the defendant is probably very unhappy that the source code was released. This is a pretty clear case of a defense backfiring. Hopefully he will find any bugs in the software so they can be corrected, but that probably won't stop him from being convicted.
  • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionar ... minus physicist> on Thursday August 09, 2007 @05:09PM (#20175715) Journal
    The lowest legal limit I know of is .08. That's enough to impair. Honestly, I think it should be, one strike and lose your license for a year. More than once and you never drive again. Drunk driving is one of the most dangerously irresponsible things anyone can do. I can't understand why anyone would try to defend it.
  • by RingDev (879105) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @05:13PM (#20175761) Homepage Journal
    Agreed, the outcome of the case itself is petty. Provided the breathalyser is functioning correctly (easy enough to test with a simple double blind survey with a number of devices of the same function). But it would be nice to see a precedence set that affirms the right of a person to review the code of a digital object being used to "testify" against them.

    And in the over all "good" side of this argument, more eyes can make better software. Even if this guy gets off with nothing due to the source, it can only drive to make the source better.

    -Rick
  • Case by case (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 09, 2007 @05:22PM (#20175921)
    You're way overgeneralizing. There are good and bad devices. Just because "early electronic breathalizers" were supposedly faulty, or speed cameras have been successfully challenged, does not impugn all other technology. That's just absurd.

    Each device and/or technology has to be evaluated on a case by case basis to determine its accuracy and reliability. I would guess that even within the "breathalizers" category, there is a wide range of devices with varying accuracy. There are probably a few stinkers that are habitually inaccurate and/or constantly breaking, and there are probably a few that are absolutely rock solid and dead-on accurate.

    To suggest that "we shouldn't rely on such devices" just because others have failed in the past is just being a Luddite.
  • by Uksi (68751) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @05:22PM (#20175929) Homepage
    We need responsibility in DUI Laws [www.ridl.us]. Drunk driving is a terrible problem, but the way the states are dealing with it is not good. The BAC limits have been creeping ever so lower, as to raise the revenue from someone having a glass of wine after dinner when stopped at a roadblock. This is not actually helpful in impacting road safety.

    Also, breathalyzers have a +/- 20% error [duiblog.com], which is rather unfortunate.

    Ignition interlocks have a .02 BAC margin of error, so they are set to legal_limit - 0.02, so in a 0.05BAC state, they are set to 0.03. Go on a date and take the girl home on a bus. This is why you should not support mandatory ignition interlocks.

    We need to deal with the drunk driving problem responsibly: provide good public transportation options (Boston, extend trains until after 2am, you listening?), encourage designated drivers, and provide massive roaming police enforcement, looking for erratic driving and dangerous behavior (substantially more effective [abionline.org] than roadblocks).
  • Re:What about (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cicatrix1 (123440) <cicatrix1@gmaPOLLOCKil.com minus painter> on Thursday August 09, 2007 @05:37PM (#20176117) Homepage
    Have you ever been to a place that sells alcohol? There's almost never overnight parking, so the real cost is a (potentially hefty) cab ride home + a parking ticket. It's just another part of this country's attitude of "make hard rules" but don't really provide the means for anyone to follow them easily. If you ask me, there should be mandatory overnight parking near any place that sells alcohol so that a cab ride home is actually a decent option that won't cost you at least 50 bucks.

    That said, a little planning also can go a long way :p
  • by Nonillion (266505) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @05:44PM (#20176195)
    As someone who has been railroaded through the DUI "presumption of guilt" gulag, I had mentioned this to my attorney. However, I didn't have the money to pay a software engineer (code monkey) to grep the code looking for flaws. When I blew into the machine it printed out the results along with the last firmware update done in 1999! I had questioned the reliability of the results but the state just blew it off and said they were satisfied the results were forensically accurate.

    As far as the DOL is concerned, you are GUILTY based on some arbitrary number the machine spits out. Your right to "due process" is bypassed at that point, a person who works for the DOL then becomes prosecutor and judge and inevitably suspends your license. When you have little or no money, you just flat out get fucked in the ass with a un-lubricated utility pole. DUI law today has NOTHING to do with curbing drunk driving, it has everything to with nothing but raking in revenue. duiblog [duiblog.com]
  • by blip (107532) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @05:49PM (#20176275)
    To avoid these kind of discussions, there is something called "TÜV" http://www.tuev-sued.de/technical_installations [tuev-sued.de] and "Eichamt" http://www.eichamt.de/ [eichamt.de] in Germany.

    Have you ever seen someone from a good old german "Eichamt" turn up in your grocery store and check alle the balances? It's really fun, when he pulls out all those gauged weights and then tells you your balance is wrong (by .01 g!) - and you are not at the chemist's shop.

    Are you sure you buy 500g of strawberries, if that's what it says on the sticker? - Really?
  • I would image that with that kind of test a cop can use his/her judgment and either let the driver of the hook or book him, at least in the borderline cases.
    I'm not convinced that leaving a 'man in the loop' is such a bad thing. In fact, if you look at how the U.S. justice system is set up, it is usually designed so that there are lots of levels where a person can step in and stop things. It's when people start turning the justice system from a people-driven system to an algorithmic machine that real travesties start happening.

    There are always going to be borderline cases, and machines do a shit job at resolving them.
  • by Hatta (162192) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @06:04PM (#20176447) Journal
    But now their only hope is to find reasonable doubt in the form of bugs in the source.

    That's not true. Even if the source is 100% bug free, the assumptions [1800duilaws.com] they use to model the physical systems in question may be in error. Breathalyzers are good at measuring alcohol content in air, extrapolating that to alcohol content in blood is a tricky business since no two people are exactly the same.
  • by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @06:04PM (#20176455) Homepage
    As the Asst. Attorney General said in court just a couple days ago, "CMI simply will not give the source code to us. We're supposed to own it, but they just won't give it to us. I'm not sure what to do at this point."

    Answer: have judge Fine the comapny $10,000.00 a day until they relesae the source code to the court. The company is clearly in contempt of the court. I would go as far as issuing a warrant for the CEO's arrest for contempt as well.

    That would probably get you the source code within 5 days.
  • by NormalVisual (565491) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @06:17PM (#20176605)
    There may not be a bug per se in the code, but examination of the source will very clearly reveal the exact set of assumptions the machine uses in order to produce a reading, and those assumptions may very well invalidate the state's case.
  • by earthforce_1 (454968) <earthforce_1 @ y a h o o . c om> on Thursday August 09, 2007 @06:18PM (#20176615) Journal
    Almost everybody here knows the issues involved with closed source e-voting machines. How is this any different? It should be a fundamental right that you or your attorney should have access to any and all evidence used against you, which in this case includes schematics and source code of the device in question. Think about it - is it really any different to say that candidate X won the election because the magic black box said so, versus you being convicted of something because the magic black box said you are guilty - never mind how it works?

    BTW, I develop embedded systems software for a living, I have run across strange and subtle bugs before, and I have no objection to having somebody reviewing my work for correctness.
  • by thesandtiger (819476) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @06:35PM (#20176783)
    I've got an idea... Why not just, like, not get behind the wheel of a car if you've been drinking? Strikes me as a better idea than trying to game the system after you've been pulled over.

    I'd say dealing with the inconvenience of finding another way home is much better than being potentially responsible for crippling another human being. Then again, what do I know? I'm not a self-centered asshole who thinks she has a right to get behind the wheel of a 2 ton machine after doing Jell-O shots. There's no - ZERO - reason to get behind the wheel of a car after you've been drinking. Ever. If you have somewhere you urgently need to be and can't wait around or sleep it off, then maybe you shouldn't have been drinking in the first place.

    My best friend on the planet has a non-functional right leg thanks to some guy who was convinced he was fine to drive. After helping her through getting her life back together over the course of years since her accident, I'd be just fine if they threw drunk drivers in jail and told their cellmates that they were child molesters.
  • Re:What about (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sunburnt (890890) * on Thursday August 09, 2007 @07:07PM (#20177075)

    "DNF" coupled with officer's testimony of "strong odor" is enough for a guilty verdict unless your family coughs up cash for very expensive legal counsel.

    According to the article,

    An article in the Pioneer Press quoted his attorney, Jeffrey Sheridan, as saying the source code was necessary because otherwise "for all we know, it's a random number generator,"

    he's got this guy. [minnesotamonthly.com] Looks expensive.

  • Re:What about (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 09, 2007 @07:26PM (#20177233)
    WTF does a driver 3 times over the legal limit have to do with lowering the limit? How is that going to help? You're stupid.
  • Re:What about (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Albanach (527650) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @08:13PM (#20177561) Homepage
    I'm not the one that's stupid if you think splitting a bottle of wine between two wouldn't place you well over the limit.
  • by kotj.mf (645325) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @09:29PM (#20178093)
    Word.

    On the rare occasion that I go out to get hammered at a bar that isn't within walking distance of my house, I keep a spare twenty for cab fare.

    I'm amazed at the number of people who will happily spend fifty to a hundred bucks on booze and then drive home to save a few bucks on the taxi.
  • Re:What about (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 09, 2007 @09:38PM (#20178145)
    Speed doesn't kill.

    No, it's the sudden deceleration that kills.

    Actually, speed can be relevant to the cause of the accident. Different cars, with different tires, can safely handle different speeds under different conditions. At some point, the speed is higher than the car is capable of handling.
  • by kaiser423 (828989) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @09:50PM (#20178219)
    Yes, tested in a lab with conditions simulating the real-world.

    I can't tell you how many pieces of both code and hardware I have seen sent back or scrapped entirely because they passed every test with flying colors and then failed subtly and silently in the real world. Including life-critical medical machines and other extremely rigorously tested devices.

    If it's so well-tested and fool-proof there should be no problem opening up the source and as part of the rigorous testing, it should have been opened and inspected by the customer (the state) in the first place!
  • by CastrTroy (595695) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @10:01PM (#20178311) Homepage
    I don't think that he's trying to say when people can and can't drink. He's trying to say when people can and can't drive. You can drink all you want, whenever you want. Just don't get in a car and drive on public roadways when you have been drinking. You can fire a gun at a shooting range all you want, but once you start shooting off in random directions in the street, then it starts in infringe on other people's right to live. A person's right to live trumps your right to drive while drunk.
  • by innerweb (721995) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @10:39PM (#20178509)

    I'll bite. You are an AC Cave Troll. You are scum.

    I have lived past friends who thought they could drink and drive and worse, friends who were the victims of others who thought they could drink and drive. Nothing quite brings this whole issue home like the death of an 8 year old child. He was in the back seat on the way home rom a late visit to his grandparents in northern Indiana. His parents never saw the driver coming. He had his lights off. He hit them at about 60 miles per hour. T-Bone right where their son was sitting. He lasted about a week without ever gaining consciousness before he died.

    While in California, I was able to do a drink and drive course. I don't know if they do those anymore, but it was very educational. Alcohol impairs your ability to perform any function. Period. It is not a question of what it does, but how badly it does it. The law allows a few drinks over time. I would allow none.

    It is irresponsible, selfish and childish to drink and operate any machinery that could be dangerous. I would like to see much stiffer sentences for drunk and/or impaired driving and tickets for anything that impairs a person's driving. There is no excuse for it. You can argue with me all you want. You can call me names, you can hate me, but none of that brings back my dead friends.

    InnerWeb

  • Re:What about (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Gregory Arenius (1105327) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @11:48PM (#20178949)
    How the hell does this tripe get modded up? "The problem that everyone keeps overlooking is that there is no way to evaluate how intoxicated you are and if you are beyond the legal limit, there IS NO WAY TO GET HOME!" Well...There are these things called responsibility and foresight. You can go to the bar with friends and have a designated driver. Or you and your friends can drink at your place and everyone can crash there. Or you could actually pay the $30-50 for a cab ride. Or, you know, you could just NOT DRINK THAT NIGHT. Maybe this concept is really difficult to understand but drunk driving kills people. You don't have a right risk other peoples lives just so you can have a good time drinking. And if a cab ride is $30-$50, well, then thats just part of the cost of going out drinking. It certainly not fair to go risking other peoples lives just so you can save $50. "The people who are killing or injuring or severely maiming others are not people who had two beers and hopped in a car to go home. It's being done by the people that HAVE a PROBLEM and are downing a case of beer and covering one eye to make it to the next bar." Actually, both groups are killing and maiming people. Maybe the people that are extremely drunk are doing it a higher rate than those who've "only had a couple beers" but the people who've "only had a couple" are killing people at a significantly higher rate than people who haven't had anything to drink. This mindset that if you're not stumbling drunk then you're fine to drive kills so many people. Lowering the legal BAC level from .10 .08 has had a measurable effect on lowering drunk driving injuries, as had further lowering of the limit from .08 to point .05. Drinking, even a little, lowers your reaction times. When you're driving a freak'n car thats dangerous and it gets people killed. You don't have the right to risk other peoples lives. Greg
  • Re:What about (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kklein (900361) on Friday August 10, 2007 @12:12AM (#20179111)

    Yup. My brother spent 2 days in jail (with no record of it or the infraction--that's why he did it) for having ONE PINT which he drank over the course of 30 minutes and then drove home. He was pulled over for speeding, was breathalyzed, blew a .07, and was taken in for DWAI (DUI Jr.). When he went to his punitive alcohol class, he found that that was absolutely expected given his weight. If he'd waited like 15 minutes, he would have been fine.

    But come ON. Who is impaired after ONE BEER? That's now my personal limit if I'm driving anywhere, though, and I wait an hour. Not because I'm too drunk to drive, but because the US is a police state.

    I live in Japan now, where the limit is... anything over 0. This seems really draconian, until you see that there really is no reason to even worry about driving if you're going to be drinking. There are buses, there are trains, there are cabs, and there is even this really great service where if a night out for dinner "accidentally" becomes a night out drinking, 2 guys in a little tiny car come to where you've parked and one gets out and drives you home in your car while the other guy follows. It costs about the same as a cab ride (cabs here are expensive), but you AND your car get home safely! I have never really felt inconvenienced by the law here, even though it is much stricter than it is in the US, where I OFTEN feel inconvenienced, if not terrified.

  • by syousef (465911) on Friday August 10, 2007 @01:02AM (#20179353) Journal
    After helping her through getting her life back together over the course of years since her accident, I'd be just fine if they threw drunk drivers in jail and told their cellmates that they were child molesters. ...which is why I'm glad you're not making the laws. Your anger isn't something to display proudly. Emmotion isn't a good basis for punishment (or law in general). It's not going to get your friend's leg back or take away the pain she's suffered or continues to suffer.

    I hope you're just venting, because otherwise you have some real issues to work through.

    I do think drunk drivers belong in jail, but that's because otherwise they're likely to re-offend, not so I can punish them for the existing offence. That's what jails are primarily for - keeping dangerous people away from the rest of society.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 10, 2007 @01:46AM (#20179543)
    "There's no compelling reason why anyone should have to drive with any alcohol in their blood; any limit ought sensibly to include a margin of safety."

    There's no compelling reason why the United States doesn't have any sort of mass public transit infrastructure, either, but that hasn't caused one to magically spring forth from the realm of ghosts and wind.

    Then again, even if their were, I'm sure the cops would harass a person for 'public intoxication' while pointedly not driving home.

  • by TheSkyIsPurple (901118) on Friday August 10, 2007 @01:47AM (#20179551)
    Agreed.

    That's why I want to see all DUI laws revoked entirely. Same for cell phone laws.

    If you get tagged for being an asshat on the road, and it turns out you had an aggravating factor that YOU CHOSE, then go ahead and increase the penalties.
    This would cover kids, lack of glasses, drinking, cell phones, make up, and trombone playing without getting the government into "well, .08 is drunk for everyone".

    It's like they say with children... punish the behavior, not the child.

    If you aren't holding your lane position, braking/accelerating erratically, changing lanes suddenly without warning, etc... punish that.
    If the above happens because of something the person chose to do, then bump it up.
  • Re:What about (Score:2, Insightful)

    by The Clockwork Troll (655321) on Friday August 10, 2007 @02:52AM (#20179873) Journal
    I would like to believe your statistics so some of these self-victimizing DUIers would shut up, but without references it's all rhetoric, even if it gets modded up.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 10, 2007 @03:17AM (#20179993)
    There's no compelling reason why anyone should have to drive with any alcohol in their blood; any limit ought sensibly to include a margin of safety.

    There's no compelling reason why we need to talk on the phone while driving, there's no compelling reason why we need to listen to the radio while driving, there's no compelling reason why we need to drive. We don't "need" to do anything. We can walk, take the bus, or just not go. There's also no compelling reason why we need to drink at all.

    This line of argument just doesn't work for me.

    Bars have parking lots. What do we think people are doing? They are drinking until intoxication, and then they are driving home. Why pay for a beer if you're going to be sober? So then it just becomes a questions of whether you're a cheap drunk or not. If your level of intoxication is 0.05, good for you, you get to drive intoxicated all the time and it's perfectly legal! However, if it's 0.10, you're screwed. Is the first person a better driver at 0.06 than the second one at 0.09? Nobody asks that question.

    Another thing is that any inconsistently enforced law is bad, especially if it has major consequences. Lots of people drive at an illegal level occasionally, but if you get caught, you're screwed. Should you be severely punished for something that a large fraction of people do? There's no graduated penalties: .079 is perfectly legal, and then .080 is time in jail. 0.08 is the same punishment as 0.24 ('cept for the hangover, maybe).

    And if you want to be safe from all the drunk drivers, there's a really simple solution: don't drive around between about midnight and 3am. Problem solved. Then, drunk drivers only kill other drunk drivers.
  • Re:What about (Score:3, Insightful)

    by oyenstikker (536040) <slashdot AT sbyrne DOT org> on Friday August 10, 2007 @07:37AM (#20181301) Homepage Journal
    Hope you don't want to drive to church and take communion.
  • by z80kid (711852) on Friday August 10, 2007 @09:29AM (#20182539)
    According to this chart [ohsinc.com] you weigh, oh, about 600 pounds.

    According to your chart [ohsinc.com] there is no percentage of alcohol, no matter how small, that does not impair. It has warnings about .01%. Some people can get that from mouthwash.

    The other thing about these charts is that your body is disposing of the alcohol at (give or take) the rate of about 1 drink per hour. So if he's a large man like me (275 lbs) and had those drinks over the course of 3+ hours at a bar shooting pool, he's probably just over the .08 limit.

    Realistically, "Impairment" is a difficult thing to measure. But I find it hard to believe most of what I've read in the last 15 years since "Drunk Driving" became a political crusade. As with anything else, once that happens it's hard to find any hard data or untainted statistics on the subject.

    When I was a kid in high school, the material we had dealing with alcohol and tobacco seemed more realistic. For example, we were told that the average person's body could dispose of the tar from 3 cigarettes a day. **We were also told that it was unhealthy, and that you would almost certainly become addicted and smoke more than that.** But that seemed logical given that people don't worry about the ill effects of sitting around a campfire. But now we are told that even minimal exposure to someone else's smoke will do irreparable harm, cause cancer, etc. That doesn't seem likely for someone still healthy enough to sit around the campfire.

    Alcohol statistics are getting there too. A buddy of mine was T-boned by a driver who ran a stop sign. The driver got off lucky, because my buddy was just on the minimum limit, and was faulted for the accident for being intoxicated. No need to look at the scene - he's been drinking so he's automatically guilty. Another banner case of alcohol abuse for the statistics.

    It's not relevant, but I'll throw it in for the tear-jerker crowd. I have a sister-in-law who is missing a leg from a drunk driver. I have a friend who has major spinal injuries from a drunk driver. Yes those are tragedies, and I would show no mercy on a .22 driver flying around town out of control. But these people weren't injured by a .08 driving 2 miles home doing the speed limit. And no amount of hysteria, falsified studies, road blocks, check points, random searches, and nit-picking people over 1 or 2 drinks are going to prevent this sort of thing.

    Another disclaimer - I've never had a DUI myself, and I don't drink anymore (I'm a sobered up alcoholic). I just believe in approaching problems rationally and realistically instead of hysterically.

  • Re:What about (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LunaticTippy (872397) on Friday August 10, 2007 @09:54AM (#20182907)
    I'm not trolling. Our priorities are weird.

    We could save way more lives by giving out free annual checkups or something. Try losing your insurance and needing $2m worth of health care and see how much your life is worth. Hell, try needing $20k worth. You'll find your life is worth very little. We constantly place a value on human life, and the value is extremely low. Life is full of cost/benefit tradeoffs and I truly don't understand why some of these are so insanely tilted. We're prepared to throw away trillions in certain areas for little to no benefit while adamantly refusing to spend enough on the huge bang-for-your-buck things.

    That 16k/year statistic is bogus. Most of those accidents would have happened anyway. Obviously alcohol is not necessary for an accident, and nobody has proved that further lowering the BAC saves lives. Besides, most of the drunk driver related deaths were already against the law. Lowering the BAC further won't stop any of those deaths. Those drivers were already willing to break the law. Tweaking the law won't make them more responsible.

    I really don't get your attitude. You act as if it is wrong to place a dollar amount on human life. Well it is done all the time. The dollar amount is quite low, too. When designing roads, cars, traffic rules, etc. a tradeoff must be made.

    We could save 50k lives/year if we banned cars, but we as a society have decided that a human life isn't worth that much. We could probably save 40k lives/year is the speed limit was 25. Society has decided that that much lost time isn't worth a human life. We could give everyone a free safety upgrade to their car complete with 5-point restraint, interior crash protection cage, and so forth and probably save 30k lives/year but it just isn't worth it.

    People get stupid about certain risks. They are prepared to spend unlimited amounts of money and lost time for zero demonstrable gain if it is about terrorists, child molesters, drunk drivers, violent video games, many other things. Yet many other greater risks are ignored or given low priority.

    So many times I hear "You can't place a value on human life" or "If it saves even one life." That is so untrue and dishonest it makes my teeth hurt.

A committee is a life form with six or more legs and no brain. -- Lazarus Long, "Time Enough For Love"

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