Wednesday, May 15, 2013

(sammy hagar voice) i can't drive point oh five?

"Turn on the TV?
More crime in the streets.
More trouble in the Middle East,
And fires out west.

Politicians slingin' dirt;
Got dissention in the church.
Another lawsuit in the works?
Man, you talk about a mess.

Too much tension between Miss Liberty
And the Eiffel Tower.
It's about time we all made up
At some big happy hour.

I think the world needs a drink!
I think enough's enough!
She's been spinning around so long,
I'd say she's pretty wound up.

Calm down, sit back, relax!
Tear up the contracts and save the ink!
Yeah I think the world?
Needs a drink!"

-- "I Think The World Needs a Drink" by Terri Clark.

--------------------

I am sure that by now, pretty much everyone has heard about, if not read up on, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)'s recommendation that the legal limit for driving under the influence be decreased from it's current level of .08, to .05.

But in case you've been living in a cave, here's the story as it appeared in today's Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Those of you who know me even casually, know that I can get my drink on with anyone.  And with noone.  I just tend to get my drink on.  Some people take out their frustrations on the dog*, some people take out their frustrations on a musical instrument, or a punching bag, or a Ricky Siglar special $10 hooker at the Cum-N-Go Motel on Independence Avenue.  Me?  I pound the bottle.  (OK, fine, tonight ... I'm pounding a box.  Yup, Franzia Chillable Red.  Deal with it.)

So as you might expect, I have my thoughts, my opinions, on this proposed reduction in the legal limit.  It's what my thoughts and opinions are, that may shock you ... at least at first ...

--------------------

(*: hang on, let me do this right.  (the great anthony j. bruno voice) We have an update?!?!  Let's go to our update desk, with our update correspondent, the lovely Miss Robin Austin!  "The Voice of Reason" confirmed some sad news today, upon completing the reading of my doctoral-level dissertation on "How To Destroy a Friendship 101"**.  Folks?  (Pause).  What?  (Pause).  Oh, yeah!  Hang on, let me do this right.  (vice president (for how much longer?) biden voice) Folks!  Harry the Dog is dead!  A three letter word -- dead!  Yes, sadly, Harry passed away a little before his (and our) Ol' Pardner did.  I will be consuming an extra couple pints out of the five gallon box tonight, in Ol' Har's memory.  Oh, and to "The Voice of Reason"'s sister?  If you happen to stumble upon this?  The next time I step foot in the town you work for?  There better be a statue of Ol' Har next to the Ol' Pardner.  And he'd better be slurping VO mixed with Mountain Valley Spring Water in his water bowl.  Thanks in advance for taking care of that.)

(**: at best, and that's with a liberal, generous curve, the linked post above gets a R rating from the Motion Pictures Association of America.  And it's crossing dangerously close into NC-17 for foul, abusive, and obscene language.  To say nothing of telling Dustin to do something that is anatomically impossible*** not once, but twice.  My way of saying: read at your own risk.)

(***: unless you're named Ron Jeremy.  Then it might be anatomically possible.)

--------------------

So let me get the shock out of the way right off the bat.  I support the NTSB's efforts to lower the legal limit to .05.  I do for a number of reasons, that I'm going to lay out below.  And here's a hint: the last one?  Is the biggest, most important reason why, I back this proposal as strongly as I do.

1. Public safety.  Can we just be honest for a moment here?  There are people in life who can handle their liquor, and people who can't.  Lowering the legal limit to .05?  Is not going to phase people like me, who maintain at a bare minimum a .06 at all times, just as a residual from the night before.  People who drink a lot, are not going to be bothered by this change at all.  Put it this way: if I'm perfectly fine at a .08 to drive home?  I'm gonna be perfectly fine at a .05 to drive home.

Where this helps with public safety, is that it makes the "lightweights", the "amateurs" if you will, rethink their decision to drive after drinking.  There's a reason why I refuse -- refuse! -- to be out after 9pm on New Year's Eve.  It's "amateur hour".  Folks who let loose once, maybe twice a year, are out en masse on New Year's Eve.  Folks who have no idea how to tolerate large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time.  (I should also note: this is the same reason why I usually refuse to go out before 4pm on St. Patrick's Day.  The "amateurs" are passed out or jailed by 3pm.)

Those are the folks who are the legitimate, credible danger behind the wheel after a couple cocktails.  They're the "clear and present danger" to public safety, not (almost) alcoholics like me.  (Hey -- I only failed 10 of the 12 AA "you might be an alcoholic" questions.  For the record, the two I passed, keeping me, like Lt. John McClain "two -- two!" steps shy of alcoholism?  I don't hide my drinking.  (Unless a flask at sporting events counts, and I say it doesn't).  And I have never been terminated from my place of employment due to my alcohol (ab)usage.  (Pause).  My God, that means I failed 10 of the 12!  (scooby doo voice) whroot whrooh!)

Let me share a story again, and I know I've told it before, probably somewhere on this site.  Late July 2008.  I'm on a float trip with some friends down at River Ranch, and one of the guys there is a cop, and (go figure) he's brought a breathalyzer with him.  So in our drunken stupidity (it's pushing 11pm ... and yes, there was more than alcohol involved), we decide to wager who'll register the highest on this thing.

The cop (and I forget his name, but he was a friend of Phil's brother) notes before starting to administer this thing that "it notoriously under-blows", meaning, if you were a .13, it would show you as a .06, .07.  (Probably why it was readily available for our usage).  So we're going around the campfire, and of course, we're also wagering on exactly what that person is gonna blow.

It finally gets around to me.  Again -- it's 11pm, on a float trip Saturday, in 100 degree late July heat.  I also want to note -- Heath and I had discussed leaving that evening, since it was supposed to rain the next day, and everyone -- and I mean everyone -- thought I was perfectly good to go.  So it gets around to me, and the highest anyone guessed was a .15, .16.  Most guesses for me were coming in at about a .10, .11, .12 -- a little intoxicated, but with my "grizzled veteran status", again -- noone thought my driving home at that hour was an issue.

I blew a .26.  And the thing under-reports, by it's owner's admission, to the tune of a .05, .06.

Meaning I was literally four times the legal limit ... and was so unfazed, the two people there who had not touched a drop of alcohol that day, thought I was ok to drive Heath and I home.

People like me?  Won't be affected in the slightest by dropping the legal limit to .05.  The people it will affect?  Will help save lives.

2. Increased revenue.  I've never understood this opposition to punishing people via financial means for breaking the law.  Never understood it.  You run a red light?  You chose to break the law.  Pay your fine.  You drove 82 in a 65?  You chose to break the law.  Pay your fine.  You consume one too many for your tolerance level, then get behind the wheel?  You chose to break the law.  Pay your fine.

And sadly, it's usually conservatives who are outraged at this "intrusion of government" into our lives.  Guys? This is EXACTLY when government should intrude into our lives!  To protect it's citizens from mortal danger!  President Lincoln (and eventually requoted by President Reagan) put it best: "government should only do for the people, what they cannot do for themselves".  Bango!  You, a private citizen, cannot ensure some mid-50s woman whose husband just left her for the smoking hot 22 year old secretary, and is drowning her sorry in vodka, will not get behind the wheel, and kill you.  The police?  At least have a chance to prevent it, and potentially save your life.  This is what we need government for -- for what we cannot do ourselves!

And if you don't want to get a DUI?  Don't drive after you've been drinking!  It's called a "choice".  It's a "decision".  It is YOUR call, noone else's.  If you get caught?  Look in the damned mirror and blame yourself, not some overzealous cop simply trying to ensure public safety (and add to the public coffers).

And please -- spare me the "well, you get a DUI and see how much it costs you, buddy!"  I have a DUI.  I am fully aware how expensive those suckers are, and mine was almost 11 1/2 years ago.  Even back in the late winter of 2002, until the probation period was over in early fall 2004, I shelled out, between court costs, fines, SATOP fees and classes, and probation costs, to say nothing of hiring a semi-competent attorney to represent me, nearly $5,000.  And that was 11 1/2 years ago.  Guys?  Gals?  Peoples and peepettes?  There's a damned good reason why, for the last five years we lived together, if I drove somewhere with "The Voice of Reason"?  I handed him the damned keys as soon as we got there.  It's called "personal responsibility".  God forbid anyone in this country practice it anymore.

3. A reduction in alcoholism, and it's costs to society.  Whoa, I'm arguing FOR that?  Yes.  Yes I am.  Look it, between family genes and my craptacular existence, I am who I am.  But even I can reign it in from time to time.  Even I have cut back to "only" five nights a week.  (Mondays (non-football season) and Thursdays are booze free in the Casa de Stevo!  For a whole 8 weeks and counting!  Baby steps!)

Let's be honest: alcohol abuse is, if not the number one cause of absenteeism in the workforce, it's in the top two.  I can admit I've had "phone in drunk" days in my professional career.  And I'm gonna guess damned near every person reading this, has had at least one "phone in drunk" day in theirs as well.

4. A reduction in unnecessary premature demises.  Guess what folks?  In Europe, when the Eurozone went to .05 BAC limits?  Deaths caused by intoxicated driving were cut in half ... in barely ten years.  (The Eurozone is a comparable population-size to the US of A ... and if anything, they drink more over there, than we do here.)  I'm normally not one of these "if one life is saved, it's worth it" people ... but if one useless death is prevented?  Then lower the damned BAC by a beer every 90 minutes.  I mean really -- if I can't make do on four Coors Lights in 90 minutes?  I have FAR bigger problems, than making do on four Coors Lights, in 90 minutes.

5. A reduction in domestic violence, and other assorted crimes.  Can I prove this?  No, I cannot.  Other than to say this: if you're someone who cannot risk being nailed with an alcohol-related arrest for your employment and/or "free from incarceration" purposes ... you're gonna think twice about buying that "one last beer before I go".  You're gonna think twice about buying two at halftime of the Chiefs / Cowboys game come September 15th, let alone think twice about buying one.  You're going to make more responsible, informed, sensible choices.

It's certifiable fact that in most communities, domestic violence rates skyrocket after the home team loses a "crucial" game, especially a season-ending contest.  If LESS alcohol is involved in the angry fans' systems, it seems logical to assume that LESS violence and crime will occur, right?  Seems logical to me.  But then again, logic isn't my strong suit.

6. A reduction in societal stupidity.  For someone who likes to drink as much as I do?  I cannot STAND to be around completely intoxicated people.  They drive me bat sh*t crazy.  I cannot stand to be around someone who's lost all tether to reason and competence, between because they're so drunk they can't even stand up. Again, part of that is my very unhealthy tolerance -- but mostly, I just find sloshed people to be obnoxious assholes who need to shut the hell up.  If fewer of those people are walking this planet?  Then lower the damned BAC to .05!

I could keep going, and maybe I should, but it's reason numero siete, that nails why I love this push by the NTSB:

7. Because maybe -- just maybe -- this will FINALLY wake the "low information voters" up, to just how out of control government has gotten over the last 13 years.

What else needs to be said?  Hit the low information crowd, where they'll feel it ... and maybe they'll get it.

So please, NTSB?  Push to lower the legal limit to .05, for all the right reasons, as outlined in points uno to seis?  And I'll back you full throttle.

And then fight like hell to oppose you, because of numero siete ...

No comments: