The Instigator
JohnFx
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
Rocstar293
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

The legal penalties for drunk driving have gotten too severe.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/8/2016 Category: Society
Updated: 11 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 335 times Debate No: 86226
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (9)
Votes (0)

 

JohnFx

Pro

I'll preface this by saying that I don't drive drunk, and have never been accused of it by law enforcement. I also don't favor legalizing it completely and think it should remain a punishable offense. My position is just that this particular crime has at least one very active lobby against it (MADD) and it is such an emotional issue that politicians have gotten overzealous with the prescribed punishments.

My position is that the penalties for drunk driving should be no harsher than those for other severe traffic offenses (red light running, speeding way above the limit, texting, etc.) where a reasonably big fine is involved, and habitual repeat offenses should still lead to confiscation of the car or revoking of driving privileges. If there is an accident involved, the penalties should be aggravated and it should be fair for the courts to assign a higher proportion of fault to the drunk driver in civil lawsuits.

In short: A first time drunk driving offense should be an expensive traffic ticket on par with doing 90 in a school zone, running a red light, or texting while driving.

Basis for my argument: I believe that hypothetically running a red light 10 times and driving drunk 10 times would result in a similar number of fatalities/accidents, thus the punishments should be on par with one another. I'm willing to concede that this could either be accomplished by raising the penalty for other traffic offenses, or lowering it for drunk driving. As long as there is parity commensurate with the risk.

I know this is an emotional issue for some, but I just think it would be an interesting to debate something that most people would likely disagree with. Please don't take it personally.

Facts: I ran the numbers for my state (Texas) for the last year I could find (2013) and it appears drunk driving was involved in roughly 1.3% of the fatal car accidents in the state. Drunk driving was involved in about 11% of all car crashes.
Rocstar293

Con

I understand your reason to believe that some lobbyist's can take unnecessarily extreme standpoints on issues that have an emotional background. However, regarding DUI and DWI offenses, the severity of the penalties is entirely justified and should be enforced to the highest of levels. Driving is a responsibility and a privilege that is often taken lightly. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "An estimated 4 million U.S. adults reported driving under the influence of alcohol at least once in 2010". On top of that, 13,365 lives were lost due to driving under the influence that year. These traffic laws that are put in place exist for the sole purpose of keeping the people safe.

The sad but relevant truth is that many Americans will look to drunk driving for convenience as opposed to taking a cab and having to retrieve their car the next morning. Many non-profit organizations are finding creative ways to end this problem. For example "Scooter Patrol", a free of charge service that is expanding rapidly, sends a driver on a motorized scooter to the impaired driver's location. Then, the driver stores their scooter in the trunk and takes them home, as to eliminate the need to pick up the vehicle later on. With services such as these, it is no longer an argument of convenience, rather a reckless, careless, and irresponsible thing to do.

Not enforcing this law as a criminal offense would mean the people would only be given another chance to do the exact same thing. It is not a predicament. It is not a mistake, but instead is a conscious choice to operate over two-thousand pounds of metal, capable of speeds of up to ninety (plus) miles per hour. A driver's level of intoxication can vary from not being able to judge distances between cars, all the way to a passing out at the wheel. Now I ask, would you feel comfortable sitting as a passenger to a motorist with either of those inabilities? These drivers travel the same roads that transport new teenage drivers, families, and hard working citizens to partake in their daily lives. This factor alone could easily justify the need for a zero tolerance policy for impaired driving in America.
Debate Round No. 1
JohnFx

Pro

JohnFx forfeited this round.
Rocstar293

Con

Rocstar293 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
JohnFx

Pro

JohnFx forfeited this round.
Rocstar293

Con

Rocstar293 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
JohnFx

Pro

Points taken. However, the Pro position is that the relative penalties compared to other traffic violations are disproportionate with the risk.

You have cited the estimate on the number of US adults who are likely to have driven under the influence, and the number who have lost their lives. However, without context those numbers

I would argue that almost universally drivers would agree that driving while intoxicated should be avoided at all costs, even those guilty of the offense. I reject the speculative premise that drivers only consider drunk driving hazardous because of the harsh penalties. Society has clearly adequately stigmatized the practice. By comparison an NHTSA study in 2013(1) found that 20% of drivers acknowledge speeding as a problem on US roads and that it didn't dissuade them from the practice. In 2014 almost 112,000 speeding tickets were issued daily (again NHTSA 2014) and that is just the ones who got caught. Unfortunately I was unable to find statistics of speed related fatalities, but I am confident that it is a factor in a large number of accidents , and presume even more than intoxicated driving.

Given that speeding clearly seems to be a safety issue on par, or more severe than drunk driving, especially in terms of the total casualties, it seems logical that the penalties should be similar.

I put it to the CON side of the argument, if under the hypothetical proposed that speeding is a factor in a greater number of fatalities and public sentiment seems to ignore the dangers of speeding. Would you agree that either the penalties for speeding should be raised a level on par with drunk driving OR the alternative that drunk driving penalties should be reduced to the level of speeding because of the lower relative risk in terms of total fatalities?

(1) http://www.nhtsa.gov...
Rocstar293

Con

Rocstar293 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
JohnFx

Pro

JohnFx forfeited this round.
Rocstar293

Con

Rocstar293 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
9 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Posted by Rami 1 year ago
Rami
Is that what happens? Many times, when I debate someone new, they forfeit completely.
Posted by JohnFx 1 year ago
JohnFx
I give up. I am new to the site, but could never figure out how to enter my arguments in each round of the debate and it keeps auto-forfeiting me.
Posted by JohnFx 1 year ago
JohnFx
Hmm. Somehow my round 2 response didn't get saved. Well that's frustrating.
Posted by Rami 1 year ago
Rami
Remember to use sources.
Posted by Rami 1 year ago
Rami
It's fine. Just common curtesy. Go ahead and have this debate. I'm fine with it.
Posted by Rocstar293 1 year ago
Rocstar293
I apologize for entering the debate without asking. I am also brand new to this website.
Posted by Rami 1 year ago
Rami
No, but you get too choose. Although one could accept immediately (unless stated otherwise), it is considered common courtesy to ask first.
Posted by JohnFx 1 year ago
JohnFx
Do I need to accept you or something into the debate? I am new to the site and am still getting used to the mechanics.
Posted by Rami 1 year ago
Rami
First round acceptance? I want this.
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