Your Daily Radical: “Legalize Drunk Driving”

Just another radical mind worm for you, in case ever, you care to evaluate shit and put your thinking caps on vs. just regurgitating the same thing and expressing the same outrage everyone does.

Jeffrey Tucker is a consumate, bow-tie wearing gentleman I admire greatly. He thinks for himself, too.

Most people have been there: a few drinks at a restaurant or bar and then into the car to get home. Am I over the legal limit? Hard to say. Is my driving impaired? It doesn’t seem to be. But what if I get stopped? Will I lose my license, go to jail, and be disgraced in front of the community? It’s a frightening prospect.

What’s especially strange about this is the reason I fear. My arrest and punishment would not be for driving recklessly or for endangering other drivers. It would be because I failed a test of something that is not materially related to my actual driving. […]

With laws against DUI, what’s being criminalized? Not reckless driving as such. Not aggression against anyone. What’s being criminalized is the chemical make up of the blood in your body. That itself should be no crime. To make having a certain blood content illegal is essentially totalitarian.

But you say that drinking is associated with bad driving. Well, enforce the laws against reckless driving. Many more people drink and drive than drive recklessly. Some people drive even more safely after a few drinks, correcting for their delayed responses. We do this all the time, e.g. after a workout, when we are sleepy, when we are angry, whatever. Human beings adapt with rationality. […]

For example, grudges are associated with murder in the sense that a vast number of murderers are carrying a grudge. Do we make grudges illegal? That would be crazy and unenforceable, even if there were some chemical way to measure what constitutes a grudge. But we make driving under the influence illegal though it is roughly the same thing. It targets an associated condition rather than the crime itself.

Laws against drunk driving have vastly expanded police power and done nothing to stop the practice. The best prevention against unsafe driving from drinking has been provided privately: friends, services offered by bars and restaurants, community interest groups, etc. This is the humane and rational way societies deal with social risks. The police have only messed up this process by adding a coercive element that targets liberty rather than crime.

And he quotes equally sane thinker, Radley Balko.

“If our ultimate goals are to reduce driver impairment and maximize highway safety, we should be punishing reckless driving. It shouldn’t matter if it’s caused by alcohol, sleep deprivation, prescription medication, text messaging, or road rage. If lawmakers want to stick it to dangerous drivers who threaten everyone else on the road, they can dial up the civil and criminal liability for reckless driving, especially in cases that result in injury or property damage.

“Doing away with the specific charge of drunk driving sounds radical at first blush, but it would put the focus back on impairment, where it belongs. It might repair some of the civil-liberties damage done by the invasive powers the government says it needs to catch and convict drunk drivers. If the offense were reckless driving rather than drunk driving, for example, repeated swerving over the median line would be enough to justify the charge. There would be no need for a cop to jam a needle in your arm alongside a busy highway.”

It’s a short read.

In terms of my own disclosure, I’ve driven “inebriated while driving” hundreds of times over the past 35 years, and in many foreign countries too. I’ve also driven physically ill—even tossed cookies once, on the way back from a ski trip in France—with a fever and chills, and dead tired where I kept nodding off. I’ve also been in a few accidents I caused, but none were related to any of the foregoing (both of my two rear-enders were while looking at maps—I don’t look at maps anymore).

And in 35 years I have never been stopped by a cop once while in an inebriated state. Rather, when I have had a few, I practice a deep presence of mind where 100% of attention is to the task of driving safely. If I ever do kill someone on the road, I’m pretty sure it would be at a time when I was concentrating least to the task—something we all do far, far more than driving with a buzz.

…Alright, fingers tapping on desk, waiting for the inevitable comment about how someone’s [insert special relationship] got killed, maimed, or paralyzed by a drunk driver—completely missing the point that the vast majority of those things involve sober drivers who were either not exercising proper attention to the task, driving recklessly, or as a victim themselves of run-of-mill ‘shit happens.’

Here’s a final poke at you. If you drink and drive, and/or know others who do, you’ve doubtless been admonished yourself, and you’ve admonished others. But why?


Did you tell them, or did they tell you that ‘hey, I think you might hurt someone’? Or rather, did you tell them, and did they tell you, ‘you’re going to get caught’? You know the answer because, when you knew they would likely hurt someone or themselves, you took their keys, just as you should—and the “legal system” and all the wasted social agitation that sucks out all air will never replace that on the ground human animal love for other human animals.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More


  1. Geoff on January 9, 2015 at 18:03

    It’s a propos of your point to note the cases in which being drunk is perceived as a defense rather than an offense:

    “You lost a $500 bet on that game?”
    “Sorry, honey, but I was drunk.”

    “I can’t believe you called my mom fat!”
    “But you know I was drinking.”

    “I can’t believe you slept with him.”
    “What can I say, I was drunk!”

    In all cases the condemnation is properly concerned only with the conduct and its outcome, not the reason why the conduct happened.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 9, 2015 at 18:48

      Exactly right, Geoff.

      In drunk driving logic, we should be prosecuting people for owning guns, because guns kill people. …Oh, wait…

  2. Kit Perkins on January 9, 2015 at 09:47

    I’ve often thought the same about speed limits. Speed is not what we actually care about.

    Same with employers who care about “hours at the office desk” for their knowledge workers.

    It’s easy to make an argument for one level of abstraction, but the principal is the same as many levels of abstraction.

    I’ll bet car color and likelihood of speeding are correlated. I demand a tax on red car purchases. Think of the children!!!

    • Richard Nikoley on January 9, 2015 at 10:06

      “I’ll bet car color and likelihood of speeding are correlated. I demand a tax on red car purchases.”

      Yea, and if it’s a Corvette, and you’re over 50, have hair on your chest—and you’re into gold chains but not shirt buttons…it’s straight off to jail for you!

  3. John on January 9, 2015 at 09:59

    Road head. Tough to finish while concentrating on keeping eyes open.

  4. Tom Murin on January 9, 2015 at 10:17

    There is a difference between drinking and driving and drunk driving. It doesn’t make sense for “open container” to merit a ticket if you are not drunk. Why not be able to take a beer or wine “to go?” The folks at MADD or perhaps the CDC would like you believe that you shouldn’t drive after you’ve had a single drink. This is such BS. There wasn’t a need to lower the threshold to .08 from .1. There wasn’t a problem with drivers having accidents with .08 – .09 range.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 9, 2015 at 11:29

      “There is a difference between drinking and driving and drunk driving. ”

      Of course there is, but it still doesn’t matter. Most totally fucked drunks get home safely. Most drivers get home safely.

      Sometimes, shit happens and by very far most of the time, it involved people who have not been drinking.

      This is the point of the post, in case you care to re-read.

    • Tom Murin on January 9, 2015 at 11:44

      Richard, I think your point was more about not getting caught. I don’t think it is OK to drive when a person is truly smashed. I think the “impaired” driver meme has been taken too far as you know. The tired driver may be a greater risk to others than a drunk. A stupid driver is the biggest risk to all. We’re not good at measuring how tired a person is behind the wheel – and we are unwilling to measure stupid or a senile drivers.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 9, 2015 at 11:49

      Fair enough. Blog commenting is just as imperfect as is using BA levels to determine if someone is bound to harm someone else.

    • Tom Murin on January 9, 2015 at 11:59

      Yes. I handled automobile insurance claims for about 15 years. The folks involved in the serious accidents were usually 2X or move about the legal limit. It wasn’t the drivers at the margins of .08 that had 2 glasses of wine with dinner. One of the few advantages of being heavier is that it took more to get legally drunk!

  5. gabkad on January 9, 2015 at 11:05

    Ah, Richard, you got it. It’s like if I have a couple of drinks before driving home and some idiot camel driver rear ends me because he doesn’t know how to drive, I’m in deep shit.

    It’s a real party killer this. Here, I think the blow limit is 0.04. Who the hell, if they have a couple of drinks, knows when they blow that low?

    Might as well stay home.

    Oh, drinking alone is baaad. Call a friend and party on the phone. 🙂

    Mind you, I don’t know how blotto shitfaced you’ve been behind the wheel. I’ve noticed here that the cops are never setting up in wealthy neighbourhoods. I guess rich people never drink and drive. They plunk themselves under the bridge down the street in a Muslim dominated area.

  6. Thomas on January 9, 2015 at 11:52

    I read somewhere recently that a sober person who texts and drives has a far slower reaction time than an inebriated driver. I think the general conclusion was that at least the inebriated driver is looking at the road. I’ve been rear-ended twice at stop lights by fuckheads texting and didn’t see in time. If they had been drinking they’d have been carted off to jail.

    Sleep deprivation is another overlooked factor. Heard a story on NPR about a guy who lost his wife and two kids to a sleep deprived driver. No one seems to give a shit about preventing these types of causes.

    • Bret on January 9, 2015 at 17:29

      Seriously, if I was afforded the opportunity to have one single magical power, it would be to blow out 4 car tires at one time….

      If it weren’t for all these god damn car regulations, you could install a device on your car to do just that, Messala style (go about 1:20 in), or similarly at least.

      It would serve them right, and they’d think twice the next time they held people up.

    • John on January 9, 2015 at 13:54

      Its tough for the police and state to profit off of these types of impairments. Alcohol is measurable with numbers!

      And texting while driving – this is a huge issue right now, and you hear about how horrible it is all the time. Once again, measurable – phone records.

      I remember that one of the big anti-weed points was “if its legal people are going to be driving, and how will we measure highness???”

    • Richard Nikoley on January 9, 2015 at 15:42

      The worst thing now is that people text during stoplights so it’s like 8 or 9 times out of ten I have to honk as someone to get their stupid fucking pathetic ass in gear.

      Seriously, if I was afforded the opportunity to have one single magical power, it would be to blow out 4 car tires at one time….

  7. TJ the Grouch on January 9, 2015 at 13:59

    Damn it! You make sense every time you open your mouth (actually put pen to paper).

  8. Damon on January 9, 2015 at 15:14

    In his book “The Privatization of Roads and Highways,” (link to PDF) Walter Block argues (as implied by the title) for complete privatization of all roads. In that environment, rules regarding drinking and driving would be decided by property owners.

    For example, the owner(s) of I-10 in Southern California might allow folks to drive on I-10 while stark raving drunk. Meanwhile, the owner(s) of I-90 might prohibit driving under the influence on I-90.

    The drivers in both cases might be indemnified by their respective insurers, but even that aspect would be determined by the owners of the roads on which they drive.

    Here’s the point: there’s nothing inherently wrong with laws against drinking and driving. The problem lies with the fact that such laws are decided by an ever-changing list of elected thugs, sociopaths and bureaucrats whose authority has been legitimized by generations of voters. Such laws would ideally be decided by property owners who arguably have “skin in the game.” To that end, you might pass a law for your home that prohibits visitors from dropping their pants and shitting on your kitchen floor.

    Your property, your laws.

    So too should it be with laws regarding drinking and driving.

    By the way, if you vote, the above ideas are likely wasted on you.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 9, 2015 at 16:02

      “To that end, you might pass a law for your home that prohibits visitors from dropping their pants and shitting on your kitchen floor.”

      Do you have any idea how much I make selling passes to do that, not to mention the tickets to watch it?

  9. Ed R. on January 9, 2015 at 15:28

    Damn, when I saw the title I figured you have finally gone off the deep end and flipped out.

    Damned if it doesn’t make sense though. Kind of like hate crimes. If you commit assault or murder, those are punishable crimes. I don’t really give a rats ass what you were thinking at the time.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 9, 2015 at 16:04

      “Damn, when I saw the title I figured you have finally gone off the deep end and flipped out.”

      And then came to see the carnage.

      Rubber necker! 🙂

    • Dr. Curmudgeon Gee on January 10, 2015 at 11:58

      “hate crime” is even worse. it’s punishing what people think.

  10. Karen DeCoster on January 11, 2015 at 04:32

    This theme originated with his ex-boss, …… many years ago.

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