Laws Named After Children Should Require A Super Majority To Pass

briee

Just as the North Dakota legislature is considering tougher DUI laws for the state, the North Dakota Department of Transportation has launched a new ad campaign featuring the victims of high-profile drunk driving incident from last year.

Because that’s not at all political, right?

And the state’s media, most notably Forum Communications, has hyped a few cases of drunk driving and has even named drunk driving legislation after one of the victims.

“Brielle’s Law,” is what they’re calling it, per this graphic from WDAY:

briee

I feel like I should propose my own law – “Rob Port’s Law,” perhaps – which would state that any law named after a child immediately requires a super majority of legislative votes to pass. Perhaps we could add in, too, any law that is “for the children” according to its supporters. Or any law that is touted by a legislator who surrounds himself/herself with children while advocating for the law.

Such tactics are manipulative. They’re an attempt to cloud logic and facts with emotion, to use children as human shields for any criticism of the proposed policy, and rarely is good policy made on the basis of how we feel rather than what we think.

There are a lot of good reasons to oppose the new DUI laws being proposed in the legislature. For one, mandatory jail sentences for first-time offenders are going to have a big impact on jails around the state which are already filled to capacity. Complying with that mandate will have a big impact on spending. We’re going to need more, and bigger, jails staffed with more law enforcement officials.

For another, there’s not a lot of evidence to show that increased enforcement is going to save lives. Despite a 53% increase in DUI arrests in North Dakota over the last decade according to the latest state crime report, alcohol-related accidents and fatalities have actually gone up slightly (though, for context, remember that we have more drivers driving more miles on our roads of late):

graph

If tougher enforcement isn’t saving lives, and preventing injuries and property damage, then what are we accomplishing other than bloating law enforcement budgets and filling up our courts and jails?

I’m not convinced that drunk driving is the epidemic it’s made out to be. We really have a very, very small number of accidents and fatalities. So small, I’d argue, that “get tough” policies aren’t going to have much of an impact. But drunk driving is a problem, so maybe we need an approach that is something other than more cops, more jails and a “throw the book at them” mentality.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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  • camsaure

    The state and highway patrol plus lawyers have made a cash cow industry out of DUI laws. They have also used it to advanve tryanny with unconstitutional checkpoints.

  • Ray Seltz

    So you wish to use the word “hyped” to describe a man, woman, little girl and unborn child killed by a drunk driver. That’s the sad state of affairs on both sides of the aisle who politicize their point of view to be “politically correct” for their respective side of the political ring. And with an issue like this?

    Guess what?- a drunk driver DID kill this family. No matter what kind of Forum, MSNBC or Fox News spin that you wish to call it, this family was killed. If the photo of a little girl that WAS killed by a drunk driver can be part of the bill fine. Because, if it just reminds just one of the “I can hold my liquor”/ “I just had a couple, officer” (truthfully 11), crowd, to not be stupid and drive, then it is a success.

    Let’s stop making excuses to justify behavior that conveniences us, but endangers others.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      So you wish to use the word “hyped” to describe a man, woman, little girl and unborn child killed by a drunk driver.

      Yeah, it was hyped. As tragic as that incident was, it was one incident. It is an anecdote. We shouldn’t pass a law based on one incident. We should pass it based on a broad analysis of the data available.

      If you’re for passing laws because one sad story – tragic as it is – got a lot of attention, you’re wrong.

      • Ray Seltz

        Unfortunately, that family became the poster child to finally get someone’s attention. And for the record, the new law is a joke. Former trooper Gruchalla, who had the unfortunate experience(s) of peeling bodies killed by drunk drivers out of car wrecks, had the best law. Are you not aware that the majority of auto deaths are alcohol related? If it was 6 or 15%, THAT would be knee-Jerk, Rob.

        • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

          Gruchalla’s law was a terrible law which would have done more to ruin people’s lives than make our roads safer.

          The “get tough” approach to this problem just doesn’t work.

        • opinionated

          No the families of the family allowed them to be poster family

        • SRM

          It’s more than 15%, but it’s not the majority. Around 30% nationally. Back in the 70’s it was around 60%. I don’t normally agree with Rob, but I do like his idea re: laws named after children.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      And, for the record, you’re doing it here. Because I object to passing knee-jerk law, I’m somehow not sufficiently concerned about drunk driving.

      I drive on the roads too. My loved ones drive on the roads. I don’t want drunk drivers any more than you do. What I want is policy that works, and I don’t think we get that when we cast votes for knee-jerk legislation.

      • opinionated

        Exactly free rides for everyone paid for by Alcohol fines would be a start

    • JoeMN

      . Because, if it just reminds just one of the “I can hold my liquor”/
      “I just had a couple, officer” (truthfully 11), crowd, to not be stupid
      and drive, then it is a success.

      _____

      Why should your “feel good” laws be exempt from any cost/ benefit analysis ?

      Especially considering that every dollar spent here is a dollar less to spend on something that could save lives.

      This study suggests there are many more illegally “drugged” drivers than there are using alcohol

      http://www.nhtsa.gov/Driving+Safety/Research+&+Evaluation/2007+National+Roadside+Survey+of+Alcohol+and+Drug+Use+by+Drivers

      2.2 % were over .08 blood alcohol

      vs.

      10.5% under the influence of illegal drugs

      Talk to any diehard member of MADD, and they will admit their ultimate objective is prohibition.
      If the results of this study were any indication of the success of alcohol prohibition, they should be careful of what they wish for.

  • RCND

    Add this criteria to you law- “but if we can save/ help only ONE it will be worth it”

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      We can add that through amendment. ;-)

    • thetruth

      How many lives saved would make it worthwhile? 5? 10? 100?

      • borborygmi

        if it costs money, none, as evident by the replies.

  • Jonesy

    “Rob Port’s Law, perhaps – which would state that any law named after a child immediately requires a super majority of legislative votes to pass. Perhaps we could add in, too, any law that is “for the children” according to its supporters. Or any law that is touted by a legislator who surrounds himself/herself with children while advocating for the law.”

    You mean like Dosch who had a kid next to him as he attempted to funnel public moneys to private schools??

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      Yeah, that’s a fair point, i supported Dosch’s law but bringing the kid in next to him was in poor taste.

    • dakotacyr

      And cried crocodile tears.

  • Roy_Bean

    We have no idea if the old DUI laws would work because they were never enforced. Even at least one of the legistators accused of DUI was only convicted of reckless driving. That means his 2nd offense will still be treated as his first. We would have been further ahead to leave the laws alone and turn prosecution over to the AGs office. This is feel good knee jerk BS, it won’t help if prosecutors won’t prosecute.

    • Camburn

      Senator Miller got out of his admitted DUI. If you are drinking, don’t act like Senator Miller did just because you think you will get out of it.

      IN fact…….just DON’T drive.

      Call someone. There are LOTS of folks who would be happy to come get you and take you home. Free of charge even!

  • spud

    Everyone needs to step back and take a deep breath. No one wants to see anyone killed or hurt by a drunk driver. The problem with deaths associated with children and families is that no law will ever be designed to get enough flesh to make everyone feel better. No law will ever eliminate the hurt that drunken driving deaths cause to those who are left to deal with the after-math. The only prevention is to not get behind the wheel of a vehicle in the state of intoxication. All Rob is saying is throwing money after money at a problem is not an answer.

  • nimrod

    We are going to punish mistakes harsher than premeditated crimes. But it sure makes us feel good to pass laws named after children.

    • Ray Seltz

      Its a mistake to get behind the wheel drunk? Harsher than murder? One word: delusional

      • nimrod

        You can intentionally assault someone and do no time. You can get drunk and fall asleep in your car and mandatory jail time. Assault is premeditated, where drinking too much is a mistake. I would say yours is the delusional argument.

        • FrackinNoDak

          Drinking and driving isn’t a “mistake”. It’s a choice. Anyone that gets a DUI deserves to have the book thrown at them. They choose to get wasted and then drive. It’s really quite simple.

        • thetuth

          I can’t believe there are people who still believe this.

    • FrackinNoDak

      DUIs are not mistakes. People make the decision to drink and then drive.

  • TexasJew

    Using emotional appeals to pass laws worked for the Nazis.
    Why not North Dakota?

  • PK

    Wouldn’t wearing helmets, five-point restraints with the Hans system be a good idea? I think that would be the most practical approach to saving lives on the roads. We will never stop accidents, so why not suit up like Nascar drivers? Instead the government always talks about stricter fines(revenue generation), lower BAC, more cops and checkpoints. If you wouldn’t let your children ride on a motorcycle going 80 without a helmet, why would you let them get in a car with someone going 80? Cars are made of metal with large opening to the pavement. Let’s just wear helmets and get the government out of our lives.

  • TexasJew

    Cute puppies would also work to push ill-considered laws down our throats as well.

  • borborygmi

    Rob hates putting a real face to tragedy. That way accidents and victims are just statistics. Statistics are much easier to combat then the human equation.

  • zdavid53

    Municipal judges association against the proposed new DUI law. Sheriffs association against the proposed law. They are not close enough to the problem to understand one woulld guess. Lets just let loby groups name and write laws.

  • Bridget

    If you had a family member, let alone your son, daughter-in-law, granddaughter. and unborn grandchild murdered innocently; please ask yourself how you would feel? An entire family, full of hopes, dreams and potential, killed. It is a choice to get behind the wheel and drive. If you make bad choices, there are equally detrimental consequences.

    • JoeMN

      Rob wrote;

      Such tactics are manipulative. They’re an attempt to cloud logic and
      facts with emotion, to use children as human shields for any criticism
      of the proposed policy, and rarely is good policy made on the basis of
      how we feel rather than what we think.

  • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

    What’s wrong with me? My preference for policy based on data and facts, not emotion and political manipulation?

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