If Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving, What is Drunk Driving? or, Last Night I Purchased A Breathalyzer On Amazon. I Swear I Don’t Have A Problem. I Swear. Really.

Last Friday evening I was out with some friends at Buca di Beppo in Encino. During the course of our two hour meal together, I consumed 2, yes, honest to FCBE, only 2 Sam Adams pale ales -albeit 16 oz. drafts. However, whenever I consume ANY alcohol and have to drive more than a mile or so from my house (Encino is about 30 miles away) I never feel good about it for fear of Big Brother. Yes, I felt absolutely fine, coherent and alert, as if all that alcohol was just sponged up by the bowls of pasta just consumed.

Yet today we live in an age of bullshit.  Now PLEASE let me be clear, drunk driving IS a problem and unlike many of the other chickenshit traffic infractions I fume about regularly, we NEED police to deal with this issue. However (here it comes, the “in tension” part and where the bullshit comes in) we are not going to solve the problem of drunk driving simply by redefining “drunk” whenever some pressure groups get in bed with some lawmakers. In fact, redefining any terms in order to increase the number of offenders does not solve problems -it only creates the illusion of a much bigger and widespread problem.

Some history:

New York was the first state in the union to outlaw “inebriated” driving back in the 1910’s.  The law stated you could not drive drunk yet had no objective standard by which to measure inebriation. In the 1930’s the National Safety Council working with the American Medical Association agreed together and concluded that a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .15 was the marker for inebriation. This .15 stood for nearly 5 decades until the 1980’s when pressure groups, namely Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD), convinced lawmakers to lower the BAC to .10. This stood for a time until there was federal pressure on all states to lower it once again, this time to .08, the current threshold, or risk losing highway federal funding. Today there is talk this .08 may be lowered to .05. Which effectively means we have brought back prohibition insofar as operating a vehicle is concerned.

The problem was never the BAC limits, rather the lack of enforcement of existing law. What could have happened in the evolution of the human body that it remained sober until a BAC of .15 was reached for nearly half a century and today we are “drunk” at nearly half that amount? When did we all become such lightweights?


Groups such as MADD and SADD seem to LOVE to pad their stats for some strange reason. I know personally a family who lost their son to a drunk driver and are now members of MADD -as MADD came to their side in assistance and claimed him as another victim of intoxicated driving. Yet the young man who was killed was also drunk and was likely the erratic driver and cause of the accident. That is akin to suggesting the ground was responsible for killing the man willingly jumping off the building.

So what is the bullshit?

Consider me a BADD…Blogger Against Drunk Driving -yet I want to solve the problem NOT redefine it.  For example, if I set out to prove our nation has an obesity epidemic, the path of least resistance is to redefine “obesity” and argue a lower BMI is truly obese; nothing in reality changes except the definition. So whether it be problems such as obesity, addiction, or sexual crimes, if we can successfully redefine these terms and what they mean in order to increase the number of offenders, we can successfully move forward our agenda, whatever that may be (hint: it is usually green and you can spend it) . Want to catch more drunk drivers? Make a “drunk” .01 or higher…even if all they had was rum cake for dessert.

Ironically I arrived home Friday evening and waited for Rene’. When she finally arrived she told me she was held up because she had run into a DUI checkpoint and had to wait over half an hour.  She said she was interrogated, a flashlight in her eyes as she fumbled through her purse (flashlight shown in there as well) filled with tampons and personal items trying to find her license, all the while the officer accusing her of not having one. Of course she finally found it and the jack-booted-entrapping-thug kindly let her go (please read my sarcasm here), though not without instilling fear, intimidation and embarrassment. Yes, I know some say that if they check 2,000 drivers and catch even 1 “drunk” it is worth it. Is it really? We could stop all kinds of social ills by becoming a police state, though is that really what we want? Perhaps we can create laws forcing people to stay home and lock their doors 24/7. All problems solved.

Since we live in this age of bullshit, I must play the bullshitters at their own game so that evening I spent a hundred bucks on a fuel celled breathalyzer. I rarely have anything at all to drink when I know I have to drive, yet on those rare occasions I do have a couple or must drive unexpectedly, I figure $100 is nothing compared to the 10 g’s or more it would cost to get caught driving “drunk” -which tomorrow might mean inhaling rubbing alcohol vapors.

So I endured the online shame of this purchase as I perused sites belittling the “types” of people (read: alcoholics) who would buy one of these things. Yet I did not create the rules, for better or worse, bullshit or not, I must abide by them. Which, I suppose, means I can do crack and drive as they have no measureable means to detect it. Hmmmmm….



  1. JIMMY don’t do crack, drugs are hard to get a hold of and expensive. Unless it’s free, that’d be a different story…
    JK! No, really. Society is getting more sensitive and more dramatic about where the threshold should be. Soon enough it will be no tolerance of any alcohol. BAC level NADA! Restuarants, bars and wineries will have to shut down. Lol. Dramatic huh.

  2. It is sad that it seems we cannot see the forest through the trees. The one CERTAIN way of never getting in a car accident is never getting in one. Though all of us take calculated risks every day because the full life is full of calculated risks. I am sure burning man had many risks 🙂

  3. This topic has always annoyed me, but I’ve never thought through it enough to realize why. I think the point I took away was your comparison to obesity. Which is exactly what people are doing today. I have been completely 100% sober and avoided DUI checkpoints simply because I hate them, and I don’t like being, as you mentioned, embarrassed and belittled. Even having a glass of wine with dinner I get nervous that I’ll get pulled over and thrown in jail.
    Also, a cop once pointed out to me, and I agree… sleepy driving is as bad as drunk driving. You’re both in an altered state of consciousness. I’d also like to add to that, emotional driving is as bad as drunk driving, in my opinion…

  4. Cedric…no doubt. I swear my ride out to Crafton at 5:30am is definitely WAY more dangerous than having 2 beers and driving in the evening. I am half asleep in the morning working on autopilot. Yet, I could not get arrested for what is clearly more dangerous and potentially thrown in jail for something that poses no real threat to society. I think we all avoid checkpoints for the very reasons you mention. I have thrown a U perfectly sober because they just scare the hell out of me.

    Jordan….I took your advice.

  5. Alright you wanted an argument?! Well here I am fully rested and with no distractions to stray me away. It’s not much of a leg to rely on but here we go… It will be the prohibition once more if we as drunk Americans continue to heavily consume. It makes sense to lower the BAC level, now before you get “cray cray” hear me out, because the circumstances of have changed for drinking and driving. For instance, beer was difficult to make and a long process so therefore not very popular oppose to drinking rum back in the day, which had a consistent percentage in alcohol content. Nowadays, everyone and their moms are into beers and different ones at that! It’s no longer just a bud light or heiniken,it’s double IPA’s or Pale Ale’s. The alcohol content in beers have gone up twice! In one IPA or Pale Ale, you’re looking at a 8-10% alcohol content compared to the old favored bud light or budweiser at a 4-5%. (sorry idk anything before these “back in the day” beers :P) Therefore one beer in 2013 equals two beers in 1996. Let’s not forget about our friendly hard liquors. Yes, hard liquors are still doing the job in getting drunk a lot faster such as tequila, vodka, rum, and my favorite whiskey. These liquors have grown too also making them easier to drink (not realizing you’re drunk until much later), coming in every possible flavor you could imagine. Wth does is cucumber lemon tang taste like? Idk but its good! OH! AND LET US THANK our friends in middle America for moon shine! Like Everclear! BLAH. It has risen in popularity! Why? Idk, it’s horrible. And the proof on those bad boys are easily 100% and up! So can we blame BADD and MADD for affecting the change in the BAC levels? Not entirely. It makes sense. It’s annoying yes. Another point is this… When you compare the first 50 years when the BAC level was at 0.15 there were less cars on the road, less traffic and speed limits were minimal 35-40mph. It is now 2013 with higher numbers of cars on the road, speed limits up to 70mph and crazy amount of traffic (both foot and cars on streets). I think and call me crazy but if our drunk ass society keeps pusher the bar up higher and higher with beers brinking 15% content and hard liquors at %120 we should have ZERO tolerance. Wooo, America! That is all.

  6. My issue is not with the enforcement of DUI laws so much as it is with the nanny nation be have become. I do believe drinking and driving is dangerous, but the BAC limits are ridiculous. When I was drinking it took 4 beers before I felt anything. The bigger issue is we are losing the freedom to make our own choices. If you are a smoker (I’m not) you are treated like a primate. They want to tell us how big of a soda we can buy because we can’t control our weight. Cities want to ban fires on the beach because of all the deaths linked to smores (insert chuckle). The science behind the health effects of these issues is suspect at best. It’s all about revenue. Bring on the “sin taxes.” Less then 5% of the multi-billion dollar tobacco lawsuit went to combating smoking. The rest went into the general fund. Thanks for looking out “Big Brother.” They are the ones with the addiction. An addiction to revenue.

    • Freaking nicely stated Darren. The problem is it seems like we can only create new laws and rarely dismiss ones that are either outdated or just ineffective (although legalizing marijuana in Colorado and Washington gives us a glimmer of hope that we are progressive enough to change). As society evolves our laws must change with it. Yet remember that we have representatives whose essential job is to create laws or they are not doing their job. I propose a new law: Every two years each law must be reviewed to determine its effectiveness and there should be a motion to keep it and not assume it will always be with us. Often times laws are created as the result of some bullshit overinflated media story that the congress overreacts to…if we had to review laws on a regular basis at least we could have the possibility of cooler heads prevailing and have the “What the hell were we thinking?” opportunity.

      • I think reviewing old laws every few years is a great idea. The problem lies in hoping that those in power will let commonsense prevail over a stream of income from citations or taxes.

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