Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Darren rattles our chains—with the PM’s sanction

Nanny has reared his ugly head again.  Momentarily and uncharacteristically knocked last week (at least temporarily) by National’s Nanny Steven Joyce, the miasma of wowserness has now passed across the aisle to the son Helen Clark never had, Darren Hughes—whose member’s bill to nearly halve the legal blood-alcohol limit for drivers was last night given the tacit support of Prime Minister Smile & Wave.

Quite apart from all the other points we canvassed last week, the success (if any) of this “Daddy State” bill looks like another case of rewarding policing failure and drawing our own chains ever tighter.

Nannies like chains. Puritans like Darren and Steven seem to like rattling them. Puritans’ greatest pleasure, observed H.L. Mencken, is preventing we simple folk from enjoying ourselves.  They’re motivated by the frightful idea that someone, somewhere might just be enjoying themselves in a way of which they haven’t approved.

Frankly, that’s about all the argument there is for this New Puritanism in this latest manifestation.  That people are drinking, so therefore we have to stop them.

The “argument” given for nearly halving the limit is that “drunk drivers are still killing people” so “we” have to get them off the road.  So how has that worked so far?

Well, since it’s drivers well over the current allowed alcohol figure of 0.08 mcg/ml of blood—those utterly bladdered—who are the drivers doing the damage, that argument doesn’t work very well at all. In the last year, only one driver aged over 25 who died in a car crash had a blood-alcohol content between 0.05 and 0.08—i.e., in the net that Darren Hughes and Smile & Wave would like to cast over us—whereas drivers well over the current legal limit were the ones much more heavily involved.

In other words, drivers who are already illegal under current laws are doing the damage, or at least involved in it; and in response Darren and Daddy would like to punish the rest of us, who aren’t.

That’s not intelligent government—that’s just bloody wowserism.

The problem is not those of us who are safely driving between 0.05 and 0.08, who Young Darren would like to ping. It’s those driving dangerously—and those already well over the existing government-imposed limit. And they’re often “the same driver,”—and the existing laws don’t bother them, and Darren’s new one won’t touch them: Recidivist drink-drivers are two a penny on the roads, and they infest all the courts.  So they’re still driving.  And still getting slapped on the hand for it.

So despite the idea that it’s all as simple as setting a “limit,” that hasn’t worked at all.  So much for setting a “limit” and thinking it will, by magic, somehow stop drunk or dangerous driving.

So why not just do the sensible thing and stop this obsession with alcohol, and just penalise bad driving. Have your police on the roads stopping bad and dangerous drivers when they see them, regardless of what they’ve drunk, instead of obsessing about pointless random stops and quotas. (In fact, take them off the random stops and they might even have time to do it.) Why not penalise bad driving, penalise dangerous driving highly—and punish dangerous driving causing death even higher. Why not sentence even higher those who’ve made themselves irresponsible and dangerous through their imbibition—recognising that this makes them more culpable, not less.

In other words, make people responsible for the actual damage they themselves do to others, not for actions you would just like to stop—and then remove them physically from being able to do it again. That’s what law is supposed to do,not to penalise those who’ve inflicted no damage on anyone else.

The point of good law is not to inculcate a New Puritanism. It’s not to stop people innocent of aggressive action from enjoying their lives in whatever way they wish. The point of good law is to protect innocent people from aggressors. Darren’s lemon sucking won’t do that.  Actually targeting objectively dangerous driving could, and would.


  1. Has this state beneficiary, Darren Hughes had a real job in the commercial world? Yes, All MPs are state beneficiary because they fucking produce bucker all. MPs should be required to have shown that they have work experience in the real world before entering parliament.

  2. the drunken watchman10 Aug 2010, 10:15:00

    HLM said that puritans don't like people playing golf?

  3. Look at the stats. What you're proposing would, for purely ideological reasons, increase dramatically the number of innocent people killed by drunk drivers. Nice one. Hail the mighty Rand!

    Judge Holden

  4. You are right of course, PC.... and I would suggest that the reason why the cops don't target poor and dangerous driving is that they are just too lazy.

    It is much easier to simply dragnet thousands of innocent people into their roadblocks as they try to go about their business than to actually get out onto the road and catch bad and dangerous drivers. Also, of course, those people caught with such infinitesimally small amounts of alcohol in their systems at these roadblocks provide a nice revenue stream for our masters too.

    I cannnot prove this (because I don't know where to find the stats), but I bet that people who crash their cars while 'drunk' are those who also jump lanes, turn without signalling, cut other drivers off and fail to give way etc while they are 'sober'. Good drivers surely don't magically turn into fuckwits after three glasses of wine.....

    Actually, I think there is more to this whole 'drink driving' campaign that we see on the surface. I think it is motivated by a deep belief in some circles that alcohol is somehow 'wrong' and 'harmful' and should be 'stopped'. Why else would they be planning to make it illegal to drive after having one glass of wine - in a country with virtually NO public transport system which DEPENDS on the private motor car?

  5. ... Oh... an afterthought.

    Has anybody actually done any TESTING on the ACTUAL effects of moderate amounts of alcohol on driving ability?

    The scientifically sound way to test this would be to test people 'sober' and then 'drunk' and compare results of course.... but a good way to test for poor drivers would be to have part of the sample composed of people who had recent convictions for a serious driving offence and see how they compare.

  6. "I think it is motivated by a deep belief in some circles that alcohol is somehow 'wrong' and 'harmful' and should be 'stopped'."

    Evidence? Thought not. Drink yourself into a stupor everyday. Please.

    Police can't be everywhere at once. Squawking "actually get out onto the road and catch bad and dangerous drivers." Is just asinine. If you did this in lieu of having a legal limit and random testing you would find a massive increase in dangerous driving detected after the fact, with the obvious consequences for the road toll. Name me one jurisdiction where this has worked. How many innocent lives would you like to see sacrificed on your freedom altar?

    Judge Holden

  7. There was a relevant comment by a Comedian on TV2 last night. He was talking about restrictions on smoking. He said it is not about your health, it is about control!


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