August 31, 2014. An opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal suggests that the DUI legal limit should be reduced to .05 from .08 as there is no reason to treat commercial drivers differently from drivers of passenger vehicles. However, many people would see this as an imbalance between punishment and blameworthiness as .05 can be as little as one drink for a 100 lbs woman. This phenomenon was discussed in a recent EconTalk podcast episode, Paul Robinson on Cooperation, Punishment and the Criminal Justice System, which discussed the relationship of the current criminal justice system which is not very good at tying punishment to blameworthiness and studies which show such imbalances in justice discourage our cooperation societally and encourages law-breaking generally and reduces crime control effectiveness.
Prohibition was cited as an excellent example of this phenomenon. Where a law, which many scoffed at, resulted in a dramatic increase in crime generally. Reducing the DUI legal limit to .05 would be seen by a majority of ordinary people as laughable, and for several reasons, could increase DUIs and DUI fatalities as was seen when the limit was lowered from .10 to .08 by the federal government for states to receive federal highway funding. Texting and driving are much more dangerous than DUI and hardly punished at all. Driving at age 70 and over has been reported to be as dangerous as driving at a 0.08 blood alcohol level. These disparities reveal fundamental unfairness and selective enforcement.
-Author: George Creal