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.
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.
The NMA supports constructive and effective solutions to the drunk driving problem that are fair, equitable, and respectful of fundamental 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.
To better explain the position of our association on this emotionally charged issue, it is important that the problem be properly defined. Thoughtful, objective discussion of this subject in the popular media has been sadly lacking. The press has been content to reprint whatever they receive from self-serving and vested interests.
The result has been a misinformation campaign of staggering magnitude.
Claims such as “50% of all highway fatalities are caused by drunk drivers” are unmitigated propaganda. The public officials and special interest groups that perpetuate this myth know it is a lie but persist in this kind of gross deception.
A far more likely estimate of “drunk-driver-caused” fatal accidents is 10%, still a very large and unacceptable number, but not quite the national crisis championed by anti-drinking advocates.
What the public has not been told is that the “drunk driver” numbers promoted by these public officials and special interest groups include any person, with any amount of alcohol in his system, who dies in a traffic accident (some exceptions for vehicle passengers). This includes accidents where alcohol impairment was not a causative factor, pedestrians and bicyclists with alcohol in their systems, and suicides.
Given that the vast majority of adults in the United States consume some form of alcoholic beverage, it is not unreasonable to expect the presence of alcohol in their blood. Leaping to the conclusion that the presence of alcohol in the blood of an accident victim equates to an alcohol-caused fatality is fundamentally illogical.
The whole purpose of this discussion is not to diminish the seriousness of the problem. However, it should cause you to question the merits of the “solutions” proposed by the same interests and agencies that have so grossly misrepresented the problem.