Monday, December 19, 2005

Good Collumn and Some Ranting About Neoprohibition

JD Bruewer of has a rather nice bit about neo-prohitionist legislation.

Prohibition is political dead meat. Enter neo-prohibition, a lighter, more palatable dish.

Calls for prohibition elicit strong reaction from many sectors of the public, but who can object to protecting children and innocent drivers? Neo-prohibitionists use these causes to criminalize and stigmatize all alcohol-related activities.

How can you object to tougher drunken driving laws or restricting the sale of alcohol around children? What politician would come out in favor of drunken driving or jeopardizing children?

With this approach, neo-prohibitionists have pushed the implementation of extreme laws that limit the civil rights of citizens accused of using alcohol improperly, while proving ineffective at protecting the public.

In a October column on, Radley Balko, who runs the Weblog, details how Mothers Against Drunk Driving has morphed into a neo-prohibitionist group and how the .08 blood alcohol limit law the group promoted has failed to curb drunk driving.

“When two-thirds of alcohol-related traffic fatalities involve blood-alcohol levels of .14 and above, and the average fatal accident occurs at .17, this move doesn’t make much sense. It’s like lowering the speed limit from 65 to 60 to catch people who drive 100 miles per hour,” Balko writes.

He points out that the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s review of drunken-driving data concluded, “The evidence does not conclusively establish that .08 BAC laws by themselves result in reductions in the number and severity of crashes involving alcohol.”

If you want to read Balko’s writings on the subject, or the GAO report on .08 blood-alcohol content laws, go to

My point is, if you’re against legalized alcohol, say it, fight against it and be clear in your intention.

Don’t confuse the issue by tying it to bad, feel-good legislation. Don’t harm legitimate efforts to protect the driving public and children by hijacking their causes to support your own.

If you are for legalized alcohol, stand up for the right to drink, don’t let the neo-prohibitionists strip away your rights.

So in other words, shit or get off the pot!

I, like the author, know which side I am on regarding this issue. Drinking is legal. It should have never been made illegal. Having been made illegal, the only correct thing to do was to repeal the Constitutional amendment that made it illegal, which was done. With prohibition, as wrong as it was, you see a good example of people working within the law to amend the constitution properly within the correct framework, more or less.

Unfortunately, any above the board legislation concerning alcohol ended with the repeal of prohibition, when it became clear that American public would not as a majority support a minority position such as prohibition. Since then the vocal minority in this country has used every underhanded tactic they could think of to keep people confused and sitting on the fence regarding this issue.

In other words, the Drys couldn't defeat the American drinking public with a frontal assault, so now they are going for the flank. They couldn't win by preaching. They couldn't win by violence (such as was perpatrated by Carrie Nation and the Anti-Saloon league). They couldn't win by the legal high ground of the US Constitution. So now they want to undermine that Constitution to get what they want.

Let me stress that again. Regardless of the motive, which itself isn't entirely clear, the people who want to prohibit the consumption of alcohol now choose to undermine the Constitution because they couldn't manipulate it to get whay they want. They don't want anyone to drink, and they will take away that right any way they can. And they don't care if the rights of due process, fair trial, freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, and even the basic right of a mother to care for her child are compromised, so long as they get what they want.

And it's working, because they've been slowly softening and shifting the public perception of drinking and drinking issues for decades. They will fail if the American public stops and thinks about what is going on. They will fail if Americans question their own opinions and even perception of the facts on this matter. Even if you don't drink, at least be aware of what's going on because you have as much to lose as any drinker.

Here are a couple of facts that everyone seems to have forgotten. It's not illegal to drink in the United States. It's not even illegal to drink and drive (although the neoprohibitionists have managed to confuse us on that issue enough to where even most police officers no longer understand this simple fact).

Think about that for a second. It's not illegal for you to drink and drive. It's illegal to be intoxicated while driving, as you endanger yourself and others. The definition of that intoxication has been (innapropriatley) set as having a BAC of .08 in most states. Also, it's a very good idea to not drink and drive, one which I continue to endorse even when it means I'm not going anyhwere for a while. But if you drink and drive, you have not broken the law unless you've had enough to bring your BAC up to .08 or higher.

If you had a glass of wine with dinner and drive home, you have not broken the law, even though you might get arrested for it. If you are sleeping it off in the back seat, you have not broken the law, even though you might get arrested for it. If you are sitting at a bar drinking while your car sit in that bar's parking lot, you have not broken the law, even though you might get arrested for it. If you call a cab because you've been drinkinand don't wish to endanger yourself and others by getting behind the wheel, yet before you get into the cab you go into your car to fetch some of your belongings, you have not brokent the law even though you might get arrested for it.

Neo-prohibitionists don't want you to be aware of these facts. Instead they want you to have a fuzzy, inarticulate perception about drinking. And while they are at it they want you to be so afraid of criminall persecution and prosecution that you will stop drinking altogether.

"Drinking is not a crime."


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