The Instigator
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The Contender
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10 Points

The drink-driving (DUI) laws aren't broke so there's no need to fix them

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/23/2010 Category: News
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 3,580 times Debate No: 11514
Debate Rounds (2)
Comments (10)
Votes (4)




The British government is proposing to lower the drink-driving (DUI) limit from 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood to 50mg in order to prevent up to 65 deaths a year. (1)

Now nobody would say that lives of 65 people are insignificant, but let's put this into context – every year a total of 460 people a year die as the result of drink-driving incidents while 30,000 people a year die as the result of being obese. (2)

So, are the government planning any punitive measures to save the lives of grossly overweight people?

For example, are they planning to force the obese to pay for two seats on planes, trains and buses? No, not that I've heard anyway.

Or are they planning to oblige fast food restaurants to make their doorways narrower in order to stop the obese from getting in? I don't think so.

Well perhaps they are planning to ban the sale of oversized clothes so that the obese have to go about wearing old sacks with holes cut in for the arms? Apparently not.

However, under the proposed crackdown on drink-driving, decent law-abiding motorists who enjoy taking their families out to countryside pubs for Sunday lunch will be punished with a mandatory one-year driving ban plus up to 6 months imprisonment and a �5,000 ($7,600) fine if they wash down their meal down with a couple of glasses of wine. (3)

Clearly, people who get totally off their faces on booze and then drive home should be punished but the new proposals will have a widespread and disproportionately harsh effect on responsible motorists who drink in moderation.

In conclusion, I believe that the current drink-driving laws are sufficiently punitive and should not, therefore, be tampered with.

Thank you.



Thank-You for creating this debate sir. It's my first on this site so please forgive any protocol mistakes.

When talking about whether DUI laws are broken or not it is first necessary to find out what the DUI laws are. British laws currently seem to allow for a 0.08% (80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood) alcohol level. As can be seen in a chart on the BBC website (1) drunk driving deaths have steadily decreased into a, more or less, plateau in the 90's and continuing into the 2000's.

So it is obvious that anti-drunk driving directives have worked in the past. The question here is whether or not we can improve on existing laws.

I don't think my opponent can disagree that a 0.05% blood alcohol level can cause unwanted effects. Research has shown that blood alcohol levels of as low as 0.02% cause unwanted effects such as a decrease in response time (2). Further studies have shown that these effects climb quite quickly when blood alcohol levels reach and exceed 0.05%. (3)

Therefore if a blood alcohol level of 0.05% does indeed cause negative effects that lead to an impaired ability to drive it is prudent on society to restrict operation of motor vehicles to those who are not impaired. The operation of a vehicle is a privilege and not a right. When you take the wheel of a car your fellow drivers expect you to be in full control of your senses just as you probably want them to be in control of theirs.

The fact that a hypothetical family may be inconvenienced is irrelevant. A mild inconvenience such as a prohibition that you cannot drink and drive cannot be compared to violent injury or death of the family members in question. Not to mention other families sharing the road with yours.

Mentioning obesity is also irrelevant. Drinking and Driving is a criminal act. It is recognized as one of the leading criminal causes of death. Gorging yourself is not a criminal act and it hurts no one but yourself. Drinking and Driving hurts yourself but more importantly it hurts others as well. As soon as you introduce the possibility of hurting others you must be willing to decrease your recreational activities.

It is unarguable that a 0.05% blood alcohol level causes impairment of the senses. A person who is not in 100% control of his mind should not be in operation of a machine that has the capability to harm innocents around him. Therefore society should restrict vehicle operation to those who are not impaired. Countries such as Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, and Spain (3) have imposed such reasonable limits and families there still enjoy their restaurant meals together without difficulty.

3) (PDF article on this page)
Debate Round No. 1


I should like to start by thanking scriptcoder for accepting this debate and for posting such an eloquent and well-constructed reply, to which I would like to respond as follows:

Whilst I accept that any amount of alcohol impairs a driver's performance, the effect is negligible and will do little to address the main cause of accidents.

The figures show that around one in ten casualties of traffic accidents involve the illegal consumption of alcohol (1) so, statistically, you are nine times more likely to be injured in a crash that is caused by a sober driver rather than a driver who is drunk.

So while drunk drivers can blame their crashes on the fact that they were intoxicated, we should ask what excuse the others have for causing accidents.

Well, recent research shows that eight in ten accidents are actually caused by motorists who eat while they are driving.(2)

Therefore it is these people that the Government needs to crackdown on - but who are they and how can this be achieved?

Well, they are obviously people who are either too lazy to get out of their cars to have a meal or are too gluttonous to wait until they get home to eat.

So what sort of people are lazy and gluttonous? Well, we know that lack of exercise and eating too much causes people to put on weight so it is the obese and other fat people that must take responsibility for the majority of the crashes on our roads.

Thus, obesity it is far from "irrelevant" to the argument, as my opponent claims.

The next question is how does the Government address the problem of the fat eating and driving.

Well, for obvious reasons drive-thru pubs are prohibited so it would seem sensible to make drive-thru restaurants illegal as well. Of course, that in itself would not solve the problem as obese drivers could bring food with them, just as alcoholic drivers can bring booze with them.

That's why the punishment for eating and driving should be brought into line with drinking and driving: that is – for a first offence; a mandatory 1 year driving ban plus up to a �5,000 fine and six months imprisonment.

Moving on, I do realise that other countries have even stricter laws than Britain in terms of permissible blood / alcohol levels. However, the penalties for drink-driving in these countries are usually much less severe.

Furthermore, I accept my opponent's point that driving is a privilege rather than a right but, in reality, people who live in or visit rural areas where public transport is limited have no option but to drive and a tightening of the drink-driving laws will unfairly discriminate against them.

In conclusion, drink-driving legislation is a balance of the welfare of the public on one hand and civil liberties on the other and I believe that these draconian new restrictions will do little to improve safety yet will have a huge negative impact on many people's lives.

Thank you.



I would like to thank my opponent for such a well-written reply.

My opponent agrees that alcohol does indeed impair a drivers performance. However he disagrees with my assertion that the effect is substantial. I do not believe that this is a tenable position. From the link my opponent posted himself (1) it can be seen that drivers who drink do indeed cause accidents. Furthermore it has been proven that a 0.05% alcohol level impairs reaction times.

Since we are arguing about a law that wishes to change the drunk driving laws from 0.08% to 0.05% the point of this argument is whether or not that is a justified change. I believe, that since a 0.05% alcohol level does indeed negatively impair those functions that are needed when driving, that the law is justified.

My opponent has not given a reasonable explanation for why a driver with a 0.05% alcohol level should be allowed to drink. Things like convenience simply are not relevant because the driver can choose not to drink before driving. There is nothing forcing the driver to ingest alcohol. The mantra "there is a time for everything" comes to mind.

My opponent has focused on the obese in this argument, seeking to shift blame to them for accidents. I wholeheartedly agree that the amount of accidents caused by people eating is shocking. However it is not the point of this argument. This argument is focused on debating the specific issue: should a driver with a 0.05% alcohol limit be allowed to drive? It does not matter that there are greater causes of accidents, it only matters that alcohol is one of the causes.

However let us entertain my opponent's argument. On the surface we can immediately see a fallacy: he assumes that the drivers who eat while driving are obese. What evidence does he propose for this? Do drivers who are not obese not eat and drive as well? However that is beside the point. The issues of eating while driving, and "drinking" while driving are completely different. An accident caused when someone is "eating and driving" is not caused by the effects of the food but because the action of eating is a distraction to the driver. On the other hand the consumption of alcohol effects the very senses of the driver. Distraction vs. deliberate dulling of the senses are completely different causes. Obviously people who eat and drive should be discouraged however that is for another argument.

Here we debate whether or not a person who has ingested a drug (alcohol) should be allowed to drive a vehicle. Common sense tells us no. The person is no longer in complete control of the vehicle and posses a threat to society. A person has a right to drink but they do not have the right to drink and drive.

My opponent claims that discrimination is occurring. I ask: how? A person has a right to drink, he also has a right to drive. However he cannot do them at the same time. This is a reasonable limitation and is in no way discrimination. All a person needs to do to be allowed to drive is abstain from alcohol before getting into a car. Alcohol can be consumed at a later appropriate time.

Sometimes one needs to have a sense of responsibility to personal and societal safety before indulging in practices that risk everyones lives.

Debate Round No. 2
10 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by brian_eggleston 5 years ago
Thanks for your comments, poorenglishspeaker - your English is very good by the way!

And the invisible gorilla website is amazing: I have added it to my favourites!
Posted by poorenglishspeaker 5 years ago
I am interested in your debates.
I think it is important to see the problem.
I didn't drink and drive because Japanese law is rigorous,
but I would often drive,using cell phone,eating,drinkng,etc.
Recently,I have learned how I faile to spot an unexpected event while driving.
We have too much confident what we can see.
I recommend you know how our brain works when we look objects,
please check on this website:
Thank you very much for nice debates.
Posted by surfride 6 years ago
Wow it's amazing that you can talk about drunk driving deaths as a number below 460 per year. . . In the U.S. In 2008 in Texas alone there were 1,463 alcohol related deaths, and nationwide it was 13,846.
Posted by brian_eggleston 6 years ago
Thank you!
Posted by Atheism 6 years ago
Counteracting Brian's votebombing. -.-"
Posted by mattrodstrom 6 years ago
lol, you had more Ideas for the obese debate, a bit too late to include them. huh?
Posted by Xer 6 years ago
No prob. I have a couple of cousins that live in England that come across the pond once or twice a year. Some words are definitely lost in translation.
Posted by brian_eggleston 6 years ago
Thanks Nags, I have edited the debate to make that clear.
Posted by brian_eggleston 6 years ago
Drink-driving = DUI
Posted by Xer 6 years ago
Don't you mean drunk-driving, and not drink-driving? Perhaps it's just another one of those trans-atlantic differences though.
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