US drink-driving nonsense

So I saw a commercial yet again tonight advocating that “it’s easy to tell when you’ve had way too many, but what about one too many?”, and “buzz driving is drunk driving”, typical of the tendency in US society towards tolerance of drinking any alcohol before driving a vehicle.

You notice this quite quickly after living in the US for a while. Whereas in many parts of Europe the government warning messages will take a hard line that drinking and driving don’t mix (in the UK, these commercials (UK: “adverts”) can be very graphic in nature, showing actual car crash scenarios – complete with the reality of injury and death), here in the States, people will far more readily drink one or two beers before driving home/wherever. And government warnings follow this trend – they’ll advise you not to drink too much, not to be “over the limit”, but they won’t state Common Sense:

Any alcohol is too much alcohol when driving a vehicle.

I have a simple rule. It’s really very simple, and I wish more people would consider adhering to it also (though I’m not trying to preach to my friends, just the populous in general really). I don’t drink and drive. This means I don’t drink *any* alcohol before driving a vehicle (car or otherwise). Not “just one beer”, but “just no beer”. Yes, this often means that I don’t drink – in case you’ve ever been out with me and wondered why I tend to avoid drinking these days, it’s likely because I might be driving later on. Ordinarily, this means that I will only drink on the weekend, in town, on an evening after I’m done driving for the day. Sometimes, I’ll have a drink or two on a trip, if I’m staying at a hotel and taking some form of alternate transportation.

Now I’m perfectly aware that the configuration of many US towns outside of major urban areas doesn’t lend itself to this philosophy – in a town where the layout relies upon driving yourself home, you’re going to have to use a vehicle somewhere, but that’s what friends are for, and taxis, and liquor stores (UK: “off licenses”) for the purchasing of beverages intended for home consumption. There is no reason to drink a beer and drive home, although I see this happening all the time.

I wish the US would stop caring so much about carding (UK: “IDing”) – “we card because we care” – grandmothers and everyone under 35, stop frivolously wasting taxpayer money prosecuting and ruining the lives of people over 18 (who can legally serve in the army but not buy a beer), and instead focus efforts on educating people as to the dangers of drinking and driving, not “drinking too much and driving”. It’s really very simple to get this right, but will probably never happen.


2 Responses to “US drink-driving nonsense”

  1. Pete says:

    Hi Jon,

    I also prefer not drink at all if I’m going to be driving. Mainly because it’s easier – no worrying about the strength of what I’m drinking, no worrying about how my blood/alcohol level compares to the standard and no worrying niggles at the back of my mind. It’s not for everyone, but it works for me. Luckily, I can live a near 100% car free liftstyle living and working where I do.

    I found the general attitude towards (and acceptence of) drink driving during my time in California pretty surprising to be honest…
    There’s a massive social stigma attached to having drink driving on your record in the UK, whereas DUIs seem to be laughed off in the states.


  2. jcm says:

    Actually, I’d argue the US hysteria on drink driving goes:

    *). People laugh at DUIs until someone gets one.
    *). Then its a terrible heinous crime.

    It’s basically predicated on the notion of not getting caught for drinking rather than simply not doing it in the first place – I’m not sure entirely what it is, but this isn’t the first case of society being based upon enforcement rather than common sense.

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