As we’ve known for some time, the Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske has gotten a real hard-on for promoting drugged driving as some kind of big epidemic, despite the lack of evidence showing it to be a significant problem (particularly compared to drunk driving). In fact, if we didn’t keep a close eye on him, he’d be making up evidence of the problem just to support his pet policy.
He’s has a couple of guest writers at the ONDCP “blog” to talk about drugged driving policy.
The first is Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle with The terrible toll drugged driving takes on our communities.
What are his statistics to demonstrate this “terrible toll”? The death of an unborn baby named Luke by a driver, caused in a car crash with a driver who may have been impaired by cocaine. This led to a horrible law (ghoulishly named “Baby Luke Law”) which allows a driver who tests positive to certain drugs (including marijuana) to be charged with homicide by drugged driving (up to 40 years sentence) if a death is involved in a crash, even if they weren’t impaired in any way (and hadn’t even used drugs recently).
Check out the perverted pride in Jim Doyle’s next statement:
In less than the seven years since “Baby Luke Law” passed, more than 4,000 drugged drivers have been convicted who might otherwise have escaped successful prosecution under Wisconsin’s drunken driving law because a prosecutor would have had to prove that drugs caused impairment.
Why should prosecutors have to prove guilt, he asks. Let’s just convict people of something they haven’t done without all that bother of deciding guilt or innocence.
What utter contempt for the rule of law, for justice, for even a sense of being part of a free nation of people.
He’s proud of the fact that they’re taking two unrelated things and crafting a crime that doesn’t exist. Sort of like saying that if you’re in an accident where a death is involved and you’ve also got unpaid parking tickets, then you’re suddenly guilty of murder, by definition.
Wisconsin’s law recognizes that driving under the influence of illegal drugs is unacceptable and ensures that justice is served when irresponsible people decide to get behind the wheel.
Actually, Wisconsin’s law insures that justice will not be served. Certainly not for those who were unimpaired, yet are convicted of being impaired.
Additionally, the efforts expended on trying to hang serious charges on unimpaired drivers with drugs in their systems, will distract from the needed focus on actual impaired drivers on the road. And that just makes the roads more dangerous.
In fact, unborn Baby Luke will certainly end up causing more deaths than are ever caused by drivers high on marijuana.
Moving away from the ugly grandstanding of Jim Doyle, we have another guest poster at the Drug Czar’s “blog” who shows a marked contrast in approach.
This one is Robert Darbelnet, the President and CEO of AAA, with Addressing the Drugged Driving Challenge
He pay lip service to the drug czar’s efforts regarding drugged driving, but when it comes down to the nuts and bolts of policy, Darbelnet’s approach appears to have an entirely different focus:
As this body of knowledge improves, public policy will need to evolveâ€”states will need to establish enforceable laws that deter drugged driving. Not only does law enforcement need to be able to detect the presence of potentially-impairing drug use among motorists, but they also must be able to distinguish between drug presence and driver impairment.
“to distinguish between drug presence and driver impairment.”
What a night and day approach to policy. The Drug Czar and the Governor of Wisconsin don’t care if their policies make sense, if they work, if they save lives or cause death… all they care about is politics, people be damned.
On the other hand, Robert Darbelnet is head of a company that provides services to consumers. To him, an extraordinarily punitive policy that doesn’t provide safety is stupid and wasteful. He, on behalf of his customers, certainly wants increased safety on the highways. He may not always be right in determining the best way of achieving that, but he’s certainly not going to support the stupidity of a Jim Doyle policy.
I’ll be curious to see how AAA updates information on their site about drugged driving as planned (at this writing that page is not functional). But I think it’s worth letting Robert Darbelnet and AAA know that we appreciate them working to develop good policy based on actual evidence.