January 29, 2009

"Oppose Wisconsin Checkpoints."

The Facebook group.

42 comments:

TRO said...

I noticed that it says "No one has said anything yet" for the group.

I guess that is because they are all out drinking.

Ben Masel said...

The group's less than an hour old.

SGT Ted said...

This is for revenue generation. Probably around 10k going into the systems per bust.

Simon said...

What is the policy argument against these checkpoints? (The Constitutional question, as they concede, bit the dust in Sitz.)

Triangle Man said...

I haven't seen data on this (or looked very hard) but valid policy arguments against this would need to show either that checkpoints are ineffective at reducing DUI, or that the costs of operating the checkpoints exceed whatever benefit is derived from reduced DUI. Costs would include the increased wages of officers manning the checkpoints, risk of false-positives (arresting people who turn out to be not under the influence), a shift of police resources from other areas of concern. It seems reasonable that much of this could vary from location to location and would depend in part on the magnitude of the DUI problem.

fivewheels said...

I've always had a sort of philosophical problem with drunken driving enforcement that focuses on BAC over actual driving.

On some level I think the crime has to be about the driving. If a driver has a BAC of .09 and commits no moving violations, there literally is no harm done. If the alcohol makes him swerve out of his lane, the swerving is the violation, not the alcohol.

Checkpoints are about detecting the alcohol, and not about punishing actual violations. To me it has a rough on-paper parallel to hate crimes: The assault is the crime, not the hate behind it. The assault is always punishable, whether there's hate involved or not. But we don't have checkpoints to detect hate, and if we could, we wouldn't prosecute (at least most of us wouldn't) just for the hate.

I know that's just in theory and that practically, drunken-driving laws probably have a net benefit.

Original Mike said...

"valid policy arguments against this would need to show ..."

That's how we do things now? Set up traffic stops unless you can come up with a good argument against it?

MadisonMan said...

Inefficient. For both the law enforcement agency, and for any business that relies on highways and has to stop.

This will move drunk drivers from straight highways to curvaceous back roads.

Original Mike said...

I agree with fivewheels. I wouldn't if the BAC limits were set high, but they've crept down to the point that there is a real question as to whether the level represents a hazard. Given that, the requirement should be driving performance.

Anton said...

"...curvaceous back roads."

I like driving those.

daveo said...

fivewheels(name might explain it) but you make no sense. It is not against the law to have an acident or violate a law while driving drunk, it is against the law to be behind the wheel while driving drunk.

Triangle Man said...

Original Mike said...

something about default policy positions


Simon asked what the policy arguments against this would be. I think proponents would argue that they can demonstrate more DUI arrests with checkpoints, showing efficacy. That puts the ball back in the against court. What's the alternative?

Simon said...

Original Mike said...
"That's how we do things now? Set up traffic stops unless you can come up with a good argument against it?"

Not as a general principle, no, but when the cops - the people who actually do law enforcement rather than pontificate about it and score political points about it - say they think something would help, I think that creates a presumption in favor of doing it. That presumption should be decisive unless good arguments are made against it.

Original Mike said...

What's the alternative?

Want to really do something about the societal costs of drunk driving rather than just beating off? Stop the multiple offenders.

Original Mike said...

Not as a general principle, no, but when the cops - ... - say they think something would help, I think that creates a presumption in favor of doing it.

I'm surprised at this argument coming from you, Simon.

Simon said...

Mike, is it? I've advanced a similar point about the military in the context of don't ask don't tell, after all. The people who are on the front line of carrying out an important task are in a far better position than I am (or than the Wisconsin State Assembly) to work out what helps, what doesn't, and what hinders. The more important the task, the more weight that experience should be given. Assuming that we agree that the task is important (and I assume that a task implicating both law enforcement and public safety approaches the apogee), assuming that the request violates neither longstanding tradition or the Constitution, why would we not give great weight to the conclusions of the people who will actually carry the task out? This doesn't mean that the cops should always get what they want - I'm not suggesting getting rid of the exclusionary rule, for example - but I think their belief that a policy will help places the burden on the opposition to explain why the police should be denied the tools they think most appropriate for the job, and that reason ought to be a good one.

Original Mike said...

Maybe because a retreat to "expeditiousness" doesn't feel like an argument you'd support. This isn't rocket science, and it's not even gays in the military. The police don't have a lock on common sense here and I don't think they're entitled to the deference you want to give them. I think the cops are looking for the lazy way out and don't care how much disruption is caused by it. I don't trust a profession who apparently thinks knocking down doors, guns blazing, on anonymous drug tips is good policy. I don't think they've earned the benefit of the doubt.

Our hostess appears to be against this. If we ask nicely, maybe she'll tell us why.

rhhardin said...

If you want the real policy difficulty, it's that drunk driving isn't particularly dangerous in the first place.

See almost anything by sociologist Joseph R. Gusfield, starting with The Culture of Public Problems : Drinking-Driving and the Symbolic Order.

He was intrigued how drunk driving turned from a personal moral failing, a matter between you and your clergy more or less, to a public problem, and one owned politically by MADD.

Later books generalize the rhetorical steps in defining a new public problem and then taking ownership of it, as a route to political power.

Say Contested Meanings.

JohnAnnArbor said...

rhhardin, try bringing that up to the family of one of the tens of thousands killed by drunk drivers. I'm sure they'll agree that it's not a big problem.

Sofa King said...

JAA -

Why should the opinions of those people be given any special consideration?

Personal tragedy does not necessarily impart wisdom.

JohnAnnArbor said...

Nor does thousands of people dying from a single reason. But it does indicate a problem to most normal people. Salmonella in peanut butter has killed 9 or so in the last month, and people think that's a problem, right?

Franco said...

Checkpoints add to a police state. How many non-drunk drivers are stopped to find one drunk driver?

We all get inconvenienced because the police haven't been able to discern someone weaving down the road? Perhaps not because the legal levels are set so low they can't pick out a legally drunk driver from a straight driver, what does that tell ya?

Another thing - it is simply another measure to increase revenue and assert power, like red light cameras, seat belt laws. I hate this stuff because it turns people into sheep. What about all those collateral issues one has to comply with at a checkpoint? Your papers, please!

There is too much loss of freedom and too much power going to police and law enforcement.

The vast majority of drunk driving deaths and accidents are from those who are roaring drunk and reckless. You don't need checkpoints to find these people.

Someone slightly over these very conservative limits and driving the speed limits isn't going to kill anyone, so they aren't "saving lives" when they catch this particular type.

JohnAnnArbor said...

Someone slightly over these very conservative limits and driving the speed limits isn't going to kill anyone,

Sure, and someone who's drinking is a GREAT judge of their ability to drive. Sure. Let's go with that standard.

traditionalguy said...

This sounds like the the new group opposing MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) called DAMM ( Drivers Against Mad Mothers).The old pre MADD days allowed under 0.1readings to walk. But these days the MADD pressure has re- set that line to 0.05. and also much higher First Offense penalties. Drinking and driving is almost illegal these days. The Sheriffs and State Patrol in GA do liscense and evidence of insurance road blocks all of the time, but mostly on late Friday and Saturday nights. The losers are those who turn and run, as in the show COPS. It seems that the States and the Counties OWN the roads and the drivers uses thereof is permissive only. Badger them good Governor.

traditionalguy said...

That was supposed to be DAMM( Drunks Against Mad Mothers). Some people can tell em, and some people can't.

Original Mike said...

MADD is a classic example of an organization who, having accomplished their mission, has now run amok.

Kind of like that planet eating machine on ST:TOS.

Franco said...

John Ann Arbor,

Er, you missed my point. If the police can't tell if you are drunk by your driving behavior are you a menace on the road?

Why aren't you advocating a policeman standing at the exit of every pub and tavern giving breathalyzer tests when drivers are leaving? How many people will be killed by drunk drivers in between the bar and the first checkpoint?

The issue isn't drunk driving, it is how far do we allow the State to interfere with innocent people's lives to enforce these laws.

rhhardin said...

``If it weren't for the drunks, a lot of them wouldn't be mothers.''

JohnAnnArbor said...

If the police can't tell if you are drunk by your driving behavior are you a menace on the road?

Perhaps; maybe you're staying in your lane just fine. Then you miss a stop sign CRUNCH. Or your reactions are dulled when the student steps into the crosswalk. Etc. Your reactions are slowed long before you become a doddering drunk.

Why aren't you advocating a policeman standing at the exit of every pub and tavern giving breathalyzer tests when drivers are leaving? How many people will be killed by drunk drivers in between the bar and the first checkpoint?

I've never stated my feeling on checkpoints. I have never encountered one, and my first reaction is that they should be used sparingly, if ever. Perhaps if a particular drag is known for drunks who pile out of bars on weekends, but not randomly.

But "buzzed" driving is drunk driving. It's bad enough we have SOBER drivers who have little grasp of major driving laws. We don't need to have people with reduced reaction times in charge of 2-ton moving machines.

``If it weren't for the drunks, a lot of them wouldn't be mothers.''

Hee hee. It's all funny until your kid is just a red stain on the road, isn't it?

traditionalguy said...

The unusual cases of 0.33 (near death from alcohol poisoning) drunks/alcoholics) are the Blind Drunks rear ending Police cruisers with blue light going, parked in the emergency lane. The MADD gals are rightfully mad if Judges revolving door them. The DUI industry also touches the sober 2 glasses of wine with dinner types, when they lower the limits to catch more drivers. The first offender treatment is available under 0.15 readings for a high price. Therafter, everyone is at great risk of jail time without a designated driver aboard. Then in the case of Wisconsin Snowmobilers you can throw in Animal Torture and really Hamg Em High.

Pogo said...

The American puritans, moral pecksniffs all, are resurgent for the time being. Their influence will whither in the coming economic winter, I suspect.

Supposedly, talking on a cellphone even hands-free is "as bad as driving drunk", which only suggests that driving drunk ain't as bad as the schoolmarms suggest, at least not for 0.08 or so.

rhhardin said...

Hee hee. It's all funny until your kid is just a red stain on the road, isn't it?

It's funny until somebody gets their eye poked out. Then it's still funny, just not around that person.

Bob said...

Don't use checkpoints. Conduct random safety inspections and ticket for vehicle, registration, or driving infractions. If someone acts drunk then have them breath in the tube. Safety inspections sound nice and proactive. Checkpoints sound so harsh. Wisconsin is a nice friendly state.

rhhardin said...

There's a thing called the large population effect.

It says that in a large enough population, even very unlikely things happen a lot.

But personal risk does not depend on the size of the population. You're foolish to worry about dying in a tornado if you're the only person in the world. The odds are the same if you're not the only person in the world, but you wouldn't know it from the news.

The news works by bringing every oddball disaster in the whole population of the planet into your backyard for your consideration.

Anti drunk driving groups use that fallacy to get their political power.

Your odds of dying in a traffic accident while going out for pizza are the same with or without drunk drivers.

Unfortunate things happen because there is a huge population, not because they're worth worrying about. Nobody hesitates a second in deciding to go out for pizza.

Rule: if somebody doesn't divide by the population size for you, they're talking through their hats.

JohnAnnArbor said...

There were 13,470 alcohol-related traffic deaths in 2006. That's "really unlikely"?

No problem, right, rhhardin? I mean, it's not like you knew any of them, right? So there's no point in trying to reduce that number, right? None at all!

Hey, there are very few food-contamination deaths each year. Clearly all those laws about food safety are unneeded, right? Let me know when there are over ten thousand dying each year from easily preventable contaminants in food. Then let's think about doing something!

rhhardin said...

You'll die in a traffic accident about once every 10,000 years. That's why you don't hesitate to drive out for pizza. You ignore that level of risk.

That's 40,000 deaths in a 300 million population.

Whoa! Has it suddenly become risky? No. It's just a huge population.

What you need to know isn't the 40,000 but the one in 10,000 years, because it's personal level not continent level risk that affects you, and affects everybody else too, one at a time.

Anybody who doesn't divide by population is talking through his hat.

JohnAnnArbor said...

You're not refuting my argument. All you're saying is you couldn't care less if 10,000 people die each year because people think it's OK to drink and drive. Hey, it probably won't affect you, right? So those families of the dead can just fuck off then, right?

jeff said...

"All you're saying is you couldn't care less if 10,000 people die each year because people think it's OK to drink and drive. Hey, it probably won't affect you, right? So those families of the dead can just fuck off then, right?"

This is usually what happens. Someone with a very shallow understanding of the argument brings up the deaths each year.

On a dui check point, how many cops are tied up on it? How many dui arrests are made. How many other drivers are stopped. How many other violations (no dl, expired regestration etc)
The vast majority run for 3-4 hours and have around a 1% dui arrest ratio. Following up on the deaths caused by drunk drivers, how drunk are the drivers that cause the accident?

If you bother to check the actual facts your find that dui checkpoints are not anywhere near efficient in catching drunk drivers, and that the drunks that cause the vast majority of wrecks and injuries are the professional drinkers. Not the guy that is .08. Of course that is today. MADD wants to lower that number again.
However it is much easier to just argue "you just want to drink and drive" and "you dont care about the people killed" and "you tell that to someone who knew someone who was killed.

jeff said...

"There were 13,470 alcohol-related traffic deaths in 2006. That's "really unlikely"?"

Well, yeah. Do the math. You tell me what the ratio is. Also, you might look a little harder into the "alcohol-related" part. How do you suppose they determine that? If one driver has a beer, and another driver blows a red light and hits the first guy, that has just become a alcohol-related accident. Check your stats and where they come from.

rhhardin said...

You're not refuting my argument. All you're saying is you couldn't care less if 10,000 people die..

Check your caring faculty. Did you know that 10,000 Americans die every day, with no particular disasters or unusual circumstances?

Have you spent today caring about it? Did you spend yesterday caring about it?

If not, for the world it's 100,000 deaths a day every day. Has that got you caring yet?

Or does the large population in fact kick in for you on causes that have no advantage for your self image.

Maybe mathematicians grow up faster than other people, I don't know.

Franco said...

John Ann Arbor,

I don't understand what your point is then. You are against checkpoints too. Great. You are against drunk driving too, great.

It seems you are angry that people are irresponsible and you want to control them. I understand your first instincts, but the problem is you have to control EVERYBODY in order to control those who are irresponsible and even then, those people are somehow able to keep acting irresponsibly. Do you know how many fatalities are caused by people who have already had their licenses suspended and are not allowed to drive at all?

And you then accuse others of not caring because they don't want to take what they consider extreme measures for a diminishing return.

This is an emotional argument that can be used to restrict every freedom you posses, but you want to indulge yourself to feel more "caring" while you vote in a police nanny state.

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." - C.S. Lewis

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