How tough is tough enough?

Depending on who you ask Minnesota either has a drinking and driving problem or the laws have gotten too strict. I’ve heard numbers cited that 1 in 8 Minnesotans (524,000 drivers) have a DWI and there are about 20,000 new first time offenders every year.

Wow.

Recently Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s has been proposing a series of stiffer laws and amongst those laws affected would be DWI/DUI.

The editors at the Strib have put together this little gem Editorial: Toughen DWI laws and save lives.

What I wonder is where is the point of diminishing returns, I think it’s clear that making tougher laws does not always result in less crime.

There are actually a few decent comments on the Strib story, but this one stands out

Let’s stop kidding ourselves
When I started in law enforcement 25 years ago it took me about 20 minutes to read the implied consent, obtain a test and write a ticket for DUI. When I ended my career I needed a flow chart to figure out what degree of DUI that was to be charged and 3 hours to fill out the required paperwork. We engage in this on going debate because enough citizens in our state refuse to acknowledge that it is not OK to drive when you have a snootful and a whole industry that has grown up to enable or punish this small group. Interlock’s will not stop the chronic offender. The chronic drunks desire to drive drunk will be readily served by a new industry who’s sole efforts will be to defeat the purpose of the interlock.
posted by montaguezx

Are the current laws sufficient? Too strict? I don’t know, but I get the feeling making tougher laws won’t do much to make the streets safer.

Thoughts?

.

2 Comments so far

  1. Erica M (ericam) on February 10th, 2010 @ 4:09 pm

    I’m not sure yet what I think about the interlocks.

    As far as longer jail sentences go, that won’t do a damn thing. All sense of reason and consequences goes out the door when a drunk gets drunk. You’ve got a good point about diminishing returns. Maybe that’s the thing: the people we’re really worried about here are chronic offenders who won’t be deterred by legal consequences and sometimes aren’t even deterred by life-threatening situations.

    So where do you balance big brother against public safety? It’s kind of like guns. Guns don’t kill people; people kill people, right? If someone wanted to kill someone, it’d be harder to do without a gun, but we don’t ban guns here.


  2. David (jacc) on February 11th, 2010 @ 12:38 pm

    I think the interlocks would be great, if they were installed in every single car.

    I’m suspect of any politician taking a tough on crime approach, typically it means they are running for office again and are trying to pick some low hanging fruit. It seems more often than not, they could care less about the root of a problem and instead attack a symptom.

    Hardly ever a productive strategy.



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