What I am about to reveal to you lawmakers of the world are some fool-proof instructions for drafting and enacting laws that will transform men who are disinclined to drive while intoxicated into dangerous drunk drivers. I am not sure whether you will find these instructions useful in your professional lives, but I am fairly certain that you will find this information edifying nonetheless.
The overall strategy that you ought to pursue if you want to convince men to drive drunk is to make sure that they have no (or few) viable options open to them besides getting behind the wheel when they’re drunk. More specifically, what you should aim at accomplishing is to increase the costs of the alternatives to drunk driving, which will concomitantly decrease the relative costs associated with drunk driving. While this might appear initially to be a difficult feat to accomplish, it is actually quite frequently and easily achieved in practice.
Let’s look at a classic example of how to draft a law that will convince men to drive drunk. In fact, this is one of the best possible ways to make sure that there are more drunk drivers on the road than there otherwise would be. The general objective in this case is to make sure that all men who are thinking about sleeping off their intoxication in their vehicles choose to drive home instead. In order to achieve this result, all you have to do is draft and enact laws that punish sleeping in one’s car while intoxicated in exactly the same way that you punish drunk drivers. What you will have achieved by enacting such a law is to have increased the costs associated with choosing not to drive while intoxicated, while having simultaneously decreased the relative costs associated with driving drunk. When faced with the choice of sleeping in a truck cab versus his own bed a man is likely to opt for the latter choice and drive home, when the costs associated with either option are the same. After all, why not choose to drive home and sleep in your own bed, when you could get a DUI anyway just by sleeping in your car? If you are looking for laws to enact that will convince men to drive drunk, this should be one of the first options you consider.
Another effective method for increasing the number of dangerous drunk drivers on the road is to enact laws that will lead the population to be more intoxicated on a regular basis than they otherwise would be. If you can convince men to drink a pint of whiskey instead of just drinking a few beers, for example, you will of course have drunker and more dangerous drivers on the road. Don’t for a minute think that this goal is impossibly out of reach for you far-seeing lawmakers. One of the most effective ways to accomplish this feat is to dramatically increase the tax on beer (and, hence, its overall price), which decreases the relative price of hard liquor. Since it is much more difficult for drinkers to ascertain how intoxicated they are when drinking, say, shots of Jack Daniels compared to drinking Coors Light, you can be assured that there will be many more stupendously drunk drivers on the road than there would have been without this tax. Feel free to improvise here. If you can use your taxing power in other ways to ensure that people will drink vodka, gin, and whiskey (or, better yet, Bacardi 151) instead of drinking their preferred light beer, you will have accomplished the same goal of creating more dangerous drunk drivers on the road. For more information on how to use taxes and prohibition to make Americans more drunk, I recommend reading Mark Thornton’s excellent book The Economics of Prohibition [PDF].
You can also cause people to drink more than they otherwise would by constantly tightening the legal definition of drunkenness. This option is a bit more subtle, but is nonetheless effective. In order to see how to employ this strategy, consider this example. If the definition of drunkenness is legally established at, say, .15%, men are in a position to be able to drink a few beers, have a bit of fun, and still stay well below the legal limit. They also have an incentive to slow down before they approach that limit and risk getting a DUI. If you tighten the definition of drunkenness, however, to, say, .08% or even .02%, men can only consume one or two drinks before they are already over the legal limit. And, once they are over the limit, they have no incentive whatsoever to slow down. Since they’re already over the limit with two drinks, and can already get a DUI if stopped, why not keep drinking? There is certainly no legal incentive for them to slow down after they’ve passed this ridiculous definition of drunkenness.
The same holds true should you choose to treat all people with alcohol in their veins as "drunk," no matter how much they have consumed over the legal limit. If you punish a man just as severely with a BAC of.09% as you do men with BAC’s of .25%, what possible reason could a man have to slow down his drinking after he’s over the limit? Since he will receive the same punishment whether he drinks five cocktails or fifteen, he is not encouraged by the law even in the slightest bit to slow down. If you are looking for more elegant and subtle ways to increase the number of truly dangerous drunk drivers, this might be the option for you.
Yet another method for increasing drunk driving that I would like to share with you concerns alternative transportation. If you can manage to drastically reduce the amount of safe, alternative transportation in your jurisdiction, you will go a long way toward making sure there are more drunk drivers on the road. If you can foist a government-backed cartel in the taxi and limousine trade in your jurisdiction, for example, you will be effectively depriving drunk people of a cheap and safe alternative to driving when they are drunk. And, without having the option of these cheap and safe forms of transportation, they will choose to drive drunk more frequently than they otherwise would. A more effective method for creating more drunk drivers would be hard to find. This option has the added benefit that the people thus deprived of cheap and safe transportation won’t even know that it is responsible for increases in the incidence of drunk driving!
Finally, it is critically important for you lawmakers to avoid legalizing drunk driving at all costs, if you want to make sure that there are both more drunk drivers and more dangerous drunk drivers on the road. If you follow these simple prescriptions, in no time you will find a veritable epidemic of drunk driving in your jurisdiction emerging, and the booty from drunk driving arrests will start to flow in.
Just remember not to crack a smile when you hold press conferences in your district piously proclaiming that you are doing everything in your power to reduce drunk driving.
Mark R. Crovelli [send him mail] writes from Denver, Colorado.