Letters

Letters from the week of September 16, 2004

 drinking problem

A public service: Finally, somebody had the nerve to say it! People at .08 ain't the problem ("How to Drink and Drive and Get Away With It," Bruce Rushton, September 2). I've always believed that this is just a ploy for the legal system -- be it the courts and cops or DUI lawyers -- to get rich. I'm saying, you either pay your fine for a low-level DUI, serve your little jail stint and have your insurance premium skyrocket, or you hire a lawyer like Larry Kazan, pay him a mint and get out of it. Either way, somebody gets some considerable coin, and that's the whole point.

What you should have provided in your excellent story is how much total revenue municipalities and counties take in from drunken-driving arrests. I'll bet that pays most of the bills in speed traps like Paradise Valley, where I used to live.

I'm not saying that extreme DUIs don't deserve to be put in mean old Joe Arpaio's jails. They are a menace! But most of the revenue coming in from DUI arrests isn't from people at .15 and worse, it's from people who have had a couple of drinks and aren't causing anybody any problem. (As you intimated, arrest the fuckers on cell phones; they are far more problematic!) The propaganda to the contrary is just that -- propaganda. And anybody who says otherwise should read your article thoroughly.

One thing's for sure: Bruce Rushton's given readers news they can use! Several of us in my office read the story today, and we vowed to keep a copy in the consoles of our cars so we can read through it before we even think about hitting a bar for happy hour. I'm sure you will have the usual crybabies who refuse to understand the story's point (who don't even really read more than the headline), trying to have Rushton drawn and quartered, but don't listen to any of that. You've done a public service with this one.
Sandy Barber, Tucson

Truth in advertising: I honestly thought there was no way that your article could really be about how to get away with drinking and driving. But I gave New Times too much credit. Go ahead and let yourself believe that you were just pointing out that the system can be wrong. It doesn't change the fact that you just gave all those people who say they're "fine" at bars ammunition to justify another drink.

Your line that "no one likes drunk drivers" is just a lame disclaimer. Drunk drivers use that to make themselves feel separated from the "bad" variety, as if not planning on getting drunk and driving is different from what the other drunk drivers do. People don't usually head into it with the idea that they're going to get smashed and drive (sadly, some do). They push it and end up in a bad place. Well, at least you made the whole cab thing seem like a good option. Wait, no you didn't.

Did you really think this was the right way to approach the subject? You could have easily pointed out all the reasons someone could be convicted wrongly of a DUI without ever implying that drinking and driving is okay or giving people a blueprint for how to do it. In my experience, most people are okay with drinking and driving even though they will say it's wrong when someone else expresses that sentiment.

I am a tiny minority because I won't ever drink more than a beer or two and drive after a decent amount of time. Alcohol clearly impairs driving ability, even if it's sometimes just a small handicap in the .08 cases. That's all you need in an already dangerous driving situation to push it to a more dangerous -- and statistically more likely to be deadly -- situation. You think this is overblown? I have 10 (count 'em) 10 dead friends and relatives due to drunk drivers, and not one of them was in the drunk driver's car.

Sure, you're just journalists doing your jobs. It shouldn't be your concern how people digest it. Go ahead and believe that.
Dan Hargest, Scottsdale

A financial bonanza: There's no question in my mind that the cops, the courts and Mothers Against Drunk Drivers have a political agenda to turn people's nights out with a few friends into a financial bonanza based on intimidation and false information. If it weren't for DUI convictions and red light/photo-radar tickets, Snottsburg would have to raise taxes to make up for lost revenue.

Let me relate a funny situation. I was up in northern Wisconsin with three friends a few years ago on our annual fishing trip. We were pulled over by a cop who was positive he had a live one, we being in a relatively new Jeep Grand Cherokee with Illinois plates. The guy driving is one lousy driver. It looks like he's been drinking when he drives. The beautiful thing was that he's out there going through all of the cop's arsenal of tricks and tests -- stone cold sober. He doesn't drink. Of course, the three of us in the car had had a few, but we're simply along for the ride. To say the least, the cop probably let a few dozen certified DUIs go by (Wisconsin is a tavern-at-every-intersection kind of state) while he wasted his time with our driver. It was a hilarious situation.

It's almost tempting to go out and about on a weekend night, leave a bar totally sober (and with nothing else in your system) and lure a few of these bloodsucking, Zell Miller-wanna-be cops into a frustrating non-DUI stop. You know, just act a little goofy, refuse to take all their tests, pass the ones they make you take and see what happens.
Peter Anderson, via the Internet

A victim's outrage: About "How to Commit Attempted Murder, and Get Away With It":

As a victim, I am outraged by your reckless disregard for others' safety. How can you post a cover story about avoiding DUIs while there are more than 17,000 alcohol-related deaths each year in this country -- one every 30 minutes? I am dumbfounded as to why a newspaper would encourage this sort of illegal activity.

Those who choose to drink and drive are not victims of police harassment. Police are there to serve and protect; they keep you and me safe from people who break the law. If you have to suffer the indignity of being pulled over to ensure the safety of me and my family, so be it. I support them 100 percent.

In January of this year, my best friend of 14 years was senselessly slaughtered by a drunk driver. This was not an accident, but a choice that that driver made. My friend was not given the privilege of monitoring how much the woman had to drink. My other best friend lost his father to an impaired driver. Families and loved ones at home suffered their own sentences.

Here are some statistics you failed to use:

Even experienced drinkers are significantly impaired at .08. The results of nearly 300 studies reviewed show that, at .08 blood alcohol content, virtually all drivers are impaired, which includes in critical driving tasks such as divided attention, complex reaction time, steering, lane changing and judgment. And alcohol-related crashes in the United States cost the public an estimated $114.3 billion in 2000.

The real victims of your article are the 17,000-plus individuals murdered every year, not to mention the families and friends left in the wake. No way should this be tolerated, and this should never be encouraged.
Jason Blackstock, Phoenix

MADD money: Great article! Bruce Rushton really told the truth about the DUI situation. It's nothing but a moneymaking racket for police jurisdictions, which are pushed into action by MADD. I notice that even MADD, according to your article, says drivers at .15 and up are the real problem.

But why should these jurisdictions even listen to MADD when they are garnering so damn much revenue out of DUI arrests? A lot of lawyers in Phoenix would go broke if the legal limit were at .10 where it used to be. Thanks for giving us the straight dope.
J.P. Patterson, Phoenix

Sending the wrong message: Considering that every 30 minutes someone in America dies as a result of an alcohol-related accident, I really don't believe that .08 is too low.

I was really shocked when I picked up New Times: "Here's How to Drink and Drive and Get Away With It." It was the first article I flipped to. I didn't feel any better after reading it.

I usually love your paper, and I usually agree with most of the points you make. But I have never read something so irresponsible, inconsiderate and juvenile in your paper. Life isn't one big frat party. If you're not mature enough to admit you can't drive after a night of drinking, you're not mature enough to drink in the first place.

This article has sent completely the wrong message. How many underage readers do you think picked up this paper? How many drunk drivers do you think will now get away free and clear?

You should know better.
Name withheld by request

Vicious cycle: Interesting point that you get in far more legal trouble for drunken driving than for running over (while sober) someone on a bicycle -- even if the cyclist dies. That says volumes about Arizona's DUI laws.
Name withheld by request

And you know this how?: Does God read your stinker rag? I think not! First of all, He doesn't approve of drinking under any circumstances. Secondly, He hates the drunk driver. He also hates liberals like Bruce Rushton. He hates them a lot.

I'm just shocked and outraged at what this world has come to! I'm amazed that the government allows a magazine to print a guide to driving after drinking.

Zell Miller said at the Republican convention that soldiers are responsible for freedom of the press, not reporters. He's sure right! The only thing he might have added is that God had something to do with it, and that's the only reason I'm not for censorship of New Times.
Johnson Henry, Sun City

Fools rush in: Bruce Rushton is a fool, and completely immoral to have written what he did. Children could read this crap and think it's cool to drink and drive. Shame on you, Bruce!
Larry Rogers, via the Internet

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