One night while working as a firefighter, I was serving as the company officer of a truck company when a call came in to the neighboring company’s response area for an accident. During the dispatch, it sounded pretty serious. The Battalion Chief, who was at my station, told me to be ready to be dispatched to set up a landing zone for a medical helicopter, because he had a funny feeling that we would be needed.
Well, we wound up at the scene, treating a woman who was seriously injured, while the first unit to arrive on scene was busy doing CPR on her baby. Being the only paramedic on the truck full of EMTs, I was incharge of her care. I tried everything, every trick that I had in my knowledge base, but the woman died. So did her baby.
It turns out, according to her own family members, who were driving in the car behind her, she ran the stop sign, and was hit by a pickup truck that did not have a stop sign. The accident was clearly and unequivocally her fault, and that mistake cost her life, and her child’s life.
The problem here is that the State of Florida requires blood samples of every driver involved in a fatal crash. The driver of the truck, who did not seem impaired to me, had a blood alcohol of 82. He did admit on scene that he had 2 glasses of wine with dinner. I know what you are thinking- but his BAC did support the fact that he had only two. The State limit is 80. He was charged with and convicted of two felony counts of DUI manslaughter, and sentenced to twenty years in prison, and the accident wasn’t even his fault.
Why the long story? Because the government is cutting the DUI limits again. From 100, where it was thirty years ago, to 80 in 1999, and now to 50. After the limit was reduced from 100 to 80, traffic fatalities actually went up the following year, not down. My guess is that the law is working to reduce drinking and driving, and the amount of income that the government is getting from DUI fines is declining, and the number of paying customers that DUI attorneys is getting is falling. Perhaps the cops aren’t getting enough opportunities to earn free vacations for DUI arrests.
The truth is that the DUI law changes have had no discernible effect on the rate of traffic fatalities. Of course, the fact that the government uses traffic offenses as a cash cow, with Florida making $100 million a year and Virginia doing the same from traffic tickets, has nothing to do with it. In California, it was recently discovered that 1,600 DUI checkpoints yielded only 3,200 DUI arrests (two per checkpoint), but resulted in $40 million in traffic tickets and 24,000 vehicle confiscations. Cops also won, being paid $30 million in overtime to staff the checkpoints.