Sunday, February 27, 2011

My little moment of Sunday morning schadenfreude 

I've been irritated at the Mothers Against Drunk Driving since the mid-eighties at least, so I'm going to confess to a little twinkle of schadenfreude over this news:

A woman who was the former president of the Mothers Against Drunk Driving chapter in Gainesville has been arrested for drunk driving.

She blew .234 vs. a legal limit of 0.08, which is a lot. A few months ago I bought myself a cop-grade breathalyzer and have occasionally taken it around with me to see what it takes to push me above the legal limit. I find that I can drink more or less all I want to drink -- which is whatever amount it takes before I start getting really sleepy -- and I don't go above about 0.04. Not a big deal for me either way, since virtually all my watering holes are walking distance from my front door, but I did take it out with me on Super Bowl Sunday because I had to drive from party to party. I drank beer pretty much all day without getting even close to the legal limit. Perhaps all the concomitant food smoothed out a BAC spike.


By Blogger pam, at Sun Feb 27, 11:20:00 AM:

Well, the schadenfreude gods and goddesses will get me, too. Glad I'll be in good company.  

By Anonymous dr kill, at Sun Feb 27, 02:35:00 PM:

Best obtain a new tester. Not a single statement you made concerning booze and breathalyzers is true. Forget about drinking beer all day, you will be riding downtown after less than a six-pack.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Feb 27, 02:36:00 PM:

A beautiful case of schadenfreude for sure, sometimes there is justice in the universe. As I'm sure Tiger is aware there is a whole world to DUI including the "per se" laws that go along with it. I picked up a paralegal degree for kicks from a Law School and one of the Attorneys regaled us with several tales. One of the most interesting was a case of a prominent citizen who also rode horses. He saddled up one fine day and tossed 4 cans in a plastic six pack on the horn of his saddle and went prancing down a city street. He wasn't drinking and was perfectly sober when a Sheriff spotted him w/said beer still in the can. He was cited and prosecuted for OPEN container, which is any time cans were missing from the six pack. I was floored when I heard this. The DA made it stick and totally ruined this guys day. Be heads up out there folks........  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Feb 27, 02:59:00 PM:

"Not a single statement you made concerning booze and breathalyzers is true."

Well, in fact it may be true. Individual reactions to alcohol are exactly that -- individual. I am a person with a very low tolerance for alcohol, and it has an effect much like that described above. I get extraordinarily sleepy well before I get drunk. And that happens after only two drinks over dinner. Only once in my life have I ever actually been able to get classically drunk, and that was by carefully titrating how a drank over a period of many hours.

This is something that has been common in my family -- my father and grandfather were the same way. I am a large person -- 74 inches and 250 lbs. I would be unconscious before I drank enough to put me over the 80 mg/dL limit unless I swilled distilled spirits fast enough to get it in before I passed out.

Conversely, there are some people, particularly those who are experienced, heavy drinkers, who are practically asymptomatic at that level, at least to casual observers, and some for whom a level of 80 mg/dL would represent a risk for fatal withdrawal.  

By Blogger JPMcT, at Sun Feb 27, 03:36:00 PM:

Heh...I had to ASK for a breathalyzer a couple of months ago. We have a pretty busy bar band that plays out monthly. Beer is usually involved. Being the only car on the road SUN AM at 3:30 was, I guess, what got me pulled over. The trooper wanted me to "walk the line". Having one ear that's been trashed from Meniere's disease, I pointed to my hearing aid and told her that if I closed my eyes and walked, I would be on the ground in about 20 seconds.

She happily pulled out this thing that looked, for all the world, like a bong. She wouldn't let me share it with her (she also didn't thank that was funny) but I passed the audition and was on my way with a kind of apology.

I think it surprised both of us!  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Sun Feb 27, 03:38:00 PM:

Dr. Kill, it has been many years since I had more than a six pack or so in a day. Maybe four pints over four or five hours, and by then I'm getting very sleepy.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Feb 27, 04:32:00 PM:


By Anonymous jt, at Sun Feb 27, 05:38:00 PM:

a NJ State Trooper, who I've known 30+ years pulled a guideline chart for me once at town celebrations in the park things ... at that time I was lighter than today ... he told me something like 7-8 in an hour b4 I'd blow over the limit. I would expect to be passed out if I did that... like TH I am a 4 (sometimes 5 Pint and so tired and full I couldn't drink another) man. Hard liquor diff story ... five would destroy me. at .234 I hope they tossed her in the tank with street trash for a week...  

By Anonymous fritz schranck, at Sun Feb 27, 10:57:00 PM:

For most people, a limit of 12 oz of beer per hour would suffice to remain below the DUI limit. YMMV, of course.  

By Blogger 1389, at Sun Feb 27, 11:46:00 PM:

I don't drink before I drive (not that I drive that often either), but I do have Meniere's Disease. Thanks for the heads-up on that!

The whole anti-DUI campaign has gone waaaaay out of control. I suspect it's a combination of too many people becoming power-crazed and/or money-hungry. I would even suspect that there may be a certain desire to appease Muslim activists who are known for their condemnation of any use of alcohol.  

By Anonymous QuakerCat, at Mon Feb 28, 12:34:00 AM:

Wait a minute - really? I know TH's general disdain for this group - but really? TH's argument is a principled one for those who have been reading this blog for some time. His argument goes to the point that if we can vote and go to war at 18 then a kid should be able to have a beer. On principle he is right, however in practice he id dead wrong.

I am 45 years old and I grew up in Upstate NY. The drinking age was 18 when I was a kid. Most of my teenage driving was with the wheel in one hand and a beer in the other. A 21 drinking age stops 14 and 15 year olds from regularly drinking and pushes it to 16, 17 or 18.

As for the great work MADD and other groups have done at curbing drunk driving look at the stats. When I was in high school there were 50,000 deaths a year in car accidents and over half of them were alcohol related. Today that number is about 1/6th what it once was. Bitch all you want - the numbers dont lie and the great work MADD and others have done. In reality many of us should be thankful for their work, because most likely one of our loved ones could have been one of the innocent victims...  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Mon Feb 28, 08:30:00 AM:

Like many social change movements, MADD did some good work. Its continuing effort to drive down the legal BAC limit and raise the sentences for violations, however, is reaching a point of diminishing returns and, far worse, giving the cops yet another excuse for random stops. I say this as somebody who is really never at risk of blowing 0.1 or even 0.08, but who has to make my way through random cop checkpoints far more often than ought be tolerated in a free society.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Mon Feb 28, 09:57:00 AM:

Moreover, the last state to raise drinking age to 21 was Wyoming in 1988. The last LARGE state to do it was Texas, in 1986. If the drinking age itself was alone responsible for the decline in alcohol related auto fatalities, then we should see that in the stats immediately. Mysteriously, however, the number of such deaths in 1986 was actually larger than the previous few years and by 1989 hadn't changed by much (26,173 in 1982 to 22,424 in 1989). The numbers then fall somewhat until 1993 (17,908) when they remain mostly level until 2006, when they decline again.

Over-estimating the number of fatalities, over-estimating the reduction, over-estimating drunkenness as a factor in said fatalities, ascribing the difference to a three-year range of drivers to try to support your preferred policy, and then asserting that it's all because of a certain organization?

Numbers do lie, and they lie easily and often.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Mon Feb 28, 10:00:00 AM:

Well shit. I had a large post split up over two smaller ones because of that character limit disproving Quaker's assertions en totale and explaining how asinine and hypocritical our alcohol policies are, and the first half disappeared.

Sometimes, I fucking hate Blogger.  

By Anonymous QuakerCat, at Mon Feb 28, 11:12:00 PM:

Dawnfire - I have great respect for your comments and I cannot without a bit of work refute anything that you have reported. It should also be noted that one of the last things anyone would ever call me would be a prude when it comes to booze.

With that said, I dont think it is wise that men who drink three or four heavy beers over the course of an evening should begin to question whether it is a good idea for a group of concerned parents to put some sanity into the discussion of drinking and driving. Because as a kid I knew quite a few young men who would consume four beers an hour for five hours and then jump in a car and drive other kids around.

Lastly, I can only think of maybe once where I was stopped at a road block and even that was not much of an inconvenience. However, if those road blocks stop one bad accident or one potential death then in the end it is a small price to pay; God only knows the much greater price we pay everytime we board a plane in way of our civil liberties...  

By Blogger Gary Rosen, at Tue Mar 01, 03:24:00 AM:

"by 1989 hadn't changed by much (26,173 in 1982 to 22,424 in 1989). The numbers then fall somewhat until 1993 (17,908) when they remain mostly level until 2006, when they decline again."

The drop from 1982 to 1989 is almost 15%, I'd say that's statistically significant. Also that is not just Texas, it is clearly the national figure since the total number of traffic fatalities is around 30-40,000 annually. The further drops are arguably more due to demographic changes than changes in the law. But the trend hardly supports the claim that raising the drinking age had no effect.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Mar 04, 02:53:00 AM:

NHTSA BAC data on where you might want to go (or not go) on holiday:

http://www.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/research/pub/dwiothercountries/dwiothercountries.html - jump to Table 1.  

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