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Article published October 27, 2012
DUI proposals wrong
Armand R. Cingolani III Butler
Why do editors always ask for more big-government solutions? Haven’t the legislators done enough harm? I’m referring to the Oct. 18 Butler Eagle editorial, “Why won’t local state reps. take lead on DUI penalties?” If state lawmakers knew what they were doing, would they not already have enacted the supposedly sufficient and proper penalties the editorial proposes for violations of DUI public-safety laws? Where is the empirical evidence that tougher laws would deter crime? People still commit crimes that carry the death sentence and life imprisonment.Why would increasing penalties by a few more months or a few more years deter anyone from committing crimes that already carry penalties of months and years? There’s no evidence conduct can be deterred by increasing penalties. Anecdotes to the contrary show the true purpose is to punish the hapless offender. Accident statistics merely demonstrate that cars are safer to drive and that enforcement has been diverted from other purposes. The only ones who can be deterred are those who would be dissuaded by the threat of shame. It was an ignorant proposal to punish the innocent in the suggestion that those who provide a vehicle in which a drunk causes an accident forfeit their vehicle. Inevitably, bus companies, railroads, and maybe a newspaper or two would lose vehicles due to the presumably foreseeable act that an employee would have one too many before getting into an employer’s vehicle. Families would forfeit vehicles when an angry drunk threatened a family member and forced the vehicle from control of the owner. Again, the editorial irresponsibly suggests utopian public goods with multiple unforeseen consequences, and neither the writer nor any legislator can look into the mirror of the future and see the havoc such well-intentioned laws would cause. Humanity always will produce unthinking and irresponsible offenders who shock and offend the moral guardians of our society. Stop proposing making an example of some unfortunate to teach us all. They don’t learn and humans never change, and command legislation has never yet improved humanity.