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Drunk Driving Penalities, Too Strict/Lenient/Just Right

Drunk Driving Laws  

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Driving home tonight, I think I spotted at least a dozen cars that had to be driven by drunk drivers; all over the place, driving erratically, and I had to keep a safe distance from them. 

It was frustrating and infuriating. Most people are slapped on the wrist for their first offense. Fines, maybe community service, and financial expenses, but no real threat of jail time and I don’t think most even wind up with a felony on their record (could be wrong about that, but I don’t think so). 

Drunk driving penalties aren’t harsh enough, imo. Think they should come with some minimum mandatory sentence, like at least 90 days in jail on your first offense.

Am I on an island with this?

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Agree they are too lenient. 

I got a DUI in ‘99 and it was one of the worst moments of my life, just a terrible decision. I got 30 days suspended license and 24 hours of community service plus fines. I learned my lesson but have numerous friends and family that haven’t and have multiple DUIs. There is no way anyone should be allowed to drive for a prolonged period of time with more than 1 offense. 

No reason to drive now in a larger urban area with the prevalence of uber/lyft/etc

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I disagree with jail sentences for first time offenders, especially if their BAC was relatively low. I think education and community service are sufficient to correcting the behavior.

That said, I think sentences for repeat offenders (especially if they have a higher BAC) are far too lenient. A repeat offender with a BAC above .17 should get a year in jail, minimum.

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41 minutes ago, snore said:

Agree they are too lenient. 

I got a DUI in ‘99 and it was one of the worst moments of my life, just a terrible decision. I got 30 days suspended license and 24 hours of community service plus fines. I learned my lesson but have numerous friends and family that haven’t and have multiple DUIs. There is no way anyone should be allowed to drive for a prolonged period of time with more than 1 offense. 

No reason to drive now in a larger urban area with the prevalence of uber/lyft/etc

Only 30 days? State/municipality makes a difference, but I can't imagine anyplace today where a DUI conviction would carry such a short suspension. 

While I don't know what the best deterent would be, I do think it might be beneficial to allow consideration for an offender's specific economic situation. A $1000 in fines is very different for a guy making $25k a year than someone making $200k.

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28 minutes ago, [scooter] said:

I disagree with jail sentences for first time offenders, especially if their BAC was relatively low. I think education and community service are sufficient to correcting the behavior.

That said, I think sentences for repeat offenders (especially if they have a higher BAC) are far too lenient. A repeat offender with a BAC above .17 should get a year in jail, minimum.

I agree with this.  While it’s still impaired a huge difference driving .08 vs .17.  I think the current penalty is fine for those that are at or barely above the limit but need to be much more harsh for those that are hammered.

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Let me know when texting using your phone gets as harsh as dui.  There's more people killing causing accidents that go unpunished.  Until then put me in the I don't give a f.

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41 minutes ago, bucksoh said:

Let me know when texting using your phone gets as harsh as dui.  There's more people killing causing accidents that go unpunished.  Until then put me in the I don't give a f.

Stay classy.

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8 hours ago, fantasycurse42 said:

Driving home tonight, I think I spotted at least a dozen cars that had to be driven by drunk drivers; all over the place, driving erratically, and I had to keep a safe distance from them. 

It was frustrating and infuriating. Most people are slapped on the wrist for their first offense. Fines, maybe community service, and financial expenses, but no real threat of jail time and I don’t think most even wind up with a felony on their record (could be wrong about that, but I don’t think so). 

Drunk driving penalties aren’t harsh enough, imo. Think they should come with some minimum mandatory sentence, like at least 90 days in jail on your first offense.

Am I on an island with this?

Christmas night?  They were probably not drunk but texting friends Merry Christmas and updating their FB profile pictures.

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7 hours ago, [scooter] said:

I disagree with jail sentences for first time offenders, especially if their BAC was relatively low. I think education and community service are sufficient to correcting the behavior.

That said, I think sentences for repeat offenders (especially if they have a higher BAC) are far too lenient. A repeat offender with a BAC above .17 should get a year in jail, minimum.

This is me. Anyone can make one mistake, but every one after that must be dealt with more and more severely. 

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Texting and driving HAS to be a bigger problem than DUI, right?  The DWT numbers must be staggering.

A coworker got popped for DUI in October.  He was smashed, and it was his first.  He's in his late 40's, has 2 kids, isn't a problem drinker.  In my opinion he made a terrible decision, and has learned his lesson.  This event completely has his attention, and he is really beating himself up over making that kind of mistake.  So I'd hesitate to say "off with their heads" for a first offense.  Repeat offenders - throw the book at them.

Whatever we decide on for DUI, I'd want applied equally to DWT.

 

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24 minutes ago, proteus126 said:

Texting and driving HAS to be a bigger problem than DUI, right?

No.

In 2016, there were 10,497 deaths from drunk driving, and 3450 deaths from "distracted driving" (which includes texting).

I don't doubt that the number of people who text-and-drive is larger than the number of people who drink-and-drive. But the texters cause far fewer deaths, and therefore texting should not be considered to be a bigger problem than drinking.

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How many of those cases of "one mistake" wasn't "one mistake" but rather "the first time they got caught making that mistake"? I've made that mistake before and been lucky to never get caught. Mostly was lucky never to have had something really bad happen when that mistake was made. It's been a really long time since I've been that stupid and ever thankful that I never had an accident when doing it. Just too many bad things can happen and really need to set a "zero tolerance" policy on it to stop people from doing it the first time not after the first time they are caught. 

And the conversation of texting and driving is similar but different. Have no problem with attempts to crack down on that either - even as one that has also made that mistake. Have that debate separate, IMO, not as an excuse for allowing some level of stupidity for drinking and driving.

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6 minutes ago, [scooter] said:

No.

In 2016, there were 10,497 deaths from drunk driving, and 3450 deaths from "distracted driving" (which includes texting).

I don't doubt that the number of people who text-and-drive is larger than the number of people who drink-and-drive. But the texters cause far fewer deaths, and therefore texting should not be considered to be a bigger problem than drinking.

Thanks for the fax.  I'll have to rethink.

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3 minutes ago, The Iguana said:

How many of those cases of "one mistake" wasn't "one mistake" but rather "the first time they got caught making that mistake"?

I considered addressing that one in my post relating my coworker's arrest, but decided against added clutter.

Yep - I would have to doubt that this was his first time doing it.  I have little doubt that it was his last time doing it.  He's humiliated, disappointed in himself, and mourning the diminishment of his self-image (and his kids' image of him) as a bedrock guy.

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11 hours ago, [scooter] said:

No.

In 2016, there were 10,497 deaths from drunk driving, and 3450 deaths from "distracted driving" (which includes texting).

I don't doubt that the number of people who text-and-drive is larger than the number of people who drink-and-drive. But the texters cause far fewer deaths, and therefore texting should not be considered to be a bigger problem than drinking.

I have to dispute that only because my BIL does accident investigations for the Michigan State Police and has talked about this in schools to students.  If you are drunk and die in a crash they can prove you were drunk. Many so called "sober' distracted driving fatal crashes are impossible to prove.

Driving 75mph on a freeway and reading texts or posting for 10 seconds is like driving with a blindfold on. To me both are equal in terms of jeopardizing others.

I used to text and drive years ago and one time crossed the center line on a 2 lane highway checking of all things the
Detroit Lions score. When I looked up I was going into oncoming traffic..thank god no car was in my immediate vicinity. I have never done that after 4-5 beers.

Edited by Da Guru
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16 minutes ago, The Iguana said:

How many of those cases of "one mistake" wasn't "one mistake" but rather "the first time they got caught making that mistake"? I've made that mistake before and been lucky to never get caught. Mostly was lucky never to have had something really bad happen when that mistake was made. It's been a really long time since I've been that stupid and ever thankful that I never had an accident when doing it. Just too many bad things can happen and really need to set a "zero tolerance" policy on it to stop people from doing it the first time not after the first time they are caught. 

And the conversation of texting and driving is similar but different. Have no problem with attempts to crack down on that either - even as one that has also made that mistake. Have that debate separate, IMO, not as an excuse for allowing some level of stupidity for drinking and driving.

I would submit that it being the first time you got caught destroyed the illusion that you had it all under control. The getting caught for some could be the wake-up call some need to re-evaluate their lives; for some, it won't. YMMV

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My buddy got one not too long ago in AZ. I thought the penalty was pretty stiff for a first timer, but I also agree it should be stiff. His BAC was 0.11

30 days suspended license - no driving at all

90 days only driving to work

1 year interlock on car - reduced to 6 months after 16 hours of counseling and all-day defensive driving class

24 hours in jail

That’s a pretty good pirice to pay, IMO.

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Quote

 

Fines. A first DUI carries $390 to $1,000 in fines plus a number of “penalty assessments” that can substantially increase the amount the driver has to pay. The total can be several thousand dollars or more.

Jail. It’s possible for a first offender to receive 48 hours to six months in jail. But if the judge orders probation—which occurs in most cases—there’s no mandatory jail time. Oftentimes, judges are lenient on first offenders and don’t order time in jail as part of the sentence.

License suspension. For a first DUI conviction, there’s generally a six-month license suspension. There’s also a four-month administrative suspension imposed by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) if the driver had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more. (Drivers who refuse BAC testing face a one-year administrative suspension). However, if two suspensions are imposed, they’re typically allowed to overlap. So the driver won’t have to complete two full suspensions. And after completing a 30-day “hard suspension” period, a driver may be able to obtain a restricted license for driving to and from places like work and school.

Probation. First DUI offenders normally receive a three-year term of informal probation (though it can be up to five years). As a condition of probation, the defendant normally must complete a three-month DUI school, consisting of 30 hours of classes. However, for defendants who had BACs of .20% or more, the program is nine months in duration and 60 hours of class time.

 

 

I'm going to say some of that is too stiff, IMO, for a first offender (the suspension and jail stuff)... especially if it's on the low side of impairment.  I think 3 tiers of intoxication would be better. 

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11 minutes ago, Da Guru said:
28 minutes ago, [scooter] said:

No.

In 2016, there were 10,497 deaths from drunk driving, and 3450 deaths from "distracted driving" (which includes texting).

I don't doubt that the number of people who text-and-drive is larger than the number of people who drink-and-drive. But the texters cause far fewer deaths, and therefore texting should not be considered to be a bigger problem than drinking.

I have to dispute that only because my BIL does accident investigations for the Michigan State Police and has talked about this in schools to students.  If you are drunk and die in a crash they can prove you were drunk. Many so called "sober' distracted driving fatal crashes are impossible to prove.

I'm sure that many texting-and-driving crashes are not counted as "distracted driving".

By the same token, many of the 3450 "distracted driving" deaths did not involve texting-and-driving.

Also, distracted driving deaths have been decreasing (down to 3166 last year). That's a sign that the problem can be corrected through public service campaigns and does not require harsh governmental overreach.

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42 minutes ago, [scooter] said:

No.

In 2016, there were 10,497 deaths from drunk driving, and 3450 deaths from "distracted driving" (which includes texting).

I don't doubt that the number of people who text-and-drive is larger than the number of people who drink-and-drive. But the texters cause far fewer deaths, and therefore texting should not be considered to be a bigger problem than drinking.

Is part of this because you can’t prove distracted driving like you can DUI?

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3 minutes ago, Wildcat said:
46 minutes ago, [scooter] said:

No.

In 2016, there were 10,497 deaths from drunk driving, and 3450 deaths from "distracted driving" (which includes texting).

I don't doubt that the number of people who text-and-drive is larger than the number of people who drink-and-drive. But the texters cause far fewer deaths, and therefore texting should not be considered to be a bigger problem than drinking.

Is part of this because you can’t prove distracted driving like you can DUI?

Maybe. I'm sure that some of the other categories of fatalities (drowsy driving, unbelted driving, etc.) include some unreported texters.

But since those categories have not seen massive increases in the number of deaths, I think it's safe to say that they don't include that many texters.

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Distracted driving is clearly a huge problem. It’s crazy that Apple, Samsung, etc can’t (won’t) simply implement a technology that shuts your ability to use your phone while driving.

Regardless, I think a lot of people who say just right or lenient lump DUI in a category similar to non-violent drug users first offense, I disagree with that. Just because you didn’t kill someone, doesn’t mean you couldn’t have. To me, it’s a violent crime, DUI puts everyone on the road at risk, and I feel you should be penalized as such.

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As someone who has lost a loved one (sister-in-law, 16 years ago) to a drunk driver, I may be a bit biased.

The woman that hit my sister was also killed in the crash. Driving the wrong way on a divided highway. My sisters-in-law was driving a late 90’s Cadillac, think long and heavy, a tank. I went to the junkyard the morning after to get any belongings I could salvage for my brother, including her wedding rings. The transmission was shoved into the back seat. The entire front half of the car looked like an accordion.  I’ll never forget how horrific her death was! Only thing I found was her shoe that was completely water logged from the fire truck putting the fire out. I have those images burned into my mind forever and whenever I drive by the spot she was killed or the salvage yard, I always have to look. There were no skid marks from the drunk lady, and she hit my sisters-in-law going at least 70mph.

I wanted the bar shut down as well! Testimony went that this woman could hardly walk out of the bar but no one stopped her from getting into her car. 

BTW, Worst call that I ever received at 3AM. I answered and it was my dad. He said, “—————— is dead”, I said, “what!?”. He repeated, and my wife asked what happened. Without thinking, I snapped at my wife what my dad told me. I’ll never forget my wife screaming/crying, “Nooooo!!!!!”

Yeah, I’m probably to biased to vote, but I voted to lenient.

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2 hours ago, The Iguana said:

How many of those cases of "one mistake" wasn't "one mistake" but rather "the first time they got caught making that mistake"? I've made that mistake before and been lucky to never get caught. Mostly was lucky never to have had something really bad happen when that mistake was made. It's been a really long time since I've been that stupid and ever thankful that I never had an accident when doing it. Just too many bad things can happen and really need to set a "zero tolerance" policy on it to stop people from doing it the first time not after the first time they are caught. 

And the conversation of texting and driving is similar but different. Have no problem with attempts to crack down on that either - even as one that has also made that mistake. Have that debate separate, IMO, not as an excuse for allowing some level of stupidity for drinking and driving.

I think for most, not getting caught also means not learning any lesson. So, they repeat the mistake until something bad happens. When you do get caught, the consequence should be life changing, but not life ruining. I'm OK with a 1 year suspended licence on your 1st conviction, but also think a "drive to work only" provision can be acceptable.

I also think that consequences can be different for different people depending on their situation. I mentioned my thoughts on financial impact in an earlier post. I'd be OK with an age/experience consideration as well. In my world, 45 year old who has been driving for 25+ years would be held to a higher standard than a 25 year old.

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2 hours ago, fantasycurse42 said:

Distracted driving is clearly a huge problem. It’s crazy that Apple, Samsung, etc can’t (won’t) simply implement a technology that shuts your ability to use your phone while driving.

Regardless, I think a lot of people who say just right or lenient lump DUI in a category similar to non-violent drug users first offense, I disagree with that. Just because you didn’t kill someone, doesn’t mean you couldn’t have. To me, it’s a violent crime, DUI puts everyone on the road at risk, and I feel you should be penalized as such.

Passengers can't use their phones then. Can't use navigation. It's tougher than it sounds. 

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4 minutes ago, shadyridr said:

Passengers can't use their phones then. Can't use navigation. It's tougher than it sounds. 

You’re underestimating technology. 

If vehicle manufacturers are aligned, there is a simple way to determine if the phones owner is in the drivers seat.

Edited by fantasycurse42

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9 hours ago, Short Corner said:

Stay classy.

Kind of agree with him.

It's not the catalyst for the inattentive driving that should determine the severity of the punishment....it should be the inattentive driving. 

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23 minutes ago, Thunderlips said:

Kind of agree with him.

It's not the catalyst for the inattentive driving that should determine the severity of the punishment....it should be the inattentive driving. 

Seems like an odd reason to not give a f about DUI's

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1 minute ago, Short Corner said:

Seems like an odd reason to not give a f about DUI's

I'm labeling it ALL inattentive driving;.....If one engages in an non-spontaneous/planned* (i.e. texting, talking on a phone, DUI, getting oral while behind the wheel) activity behind the wheel....the punishment should be across the board.....regardless of the reason.  

 

* As opposed to spontaneous/unplanned....like a seizure.

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36 minutes ago, Thunderlips said:

Kind of agree with him.

It's not the catalyst for the inattentive driving that should determine the severity of the punishment....it should be the inattentive driving. 

I would consider inattentive to be a short period of distraction......DUI is not that. 

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12 hours ago, brun said:

While I don't know what the best deterent would be, I do think it might be beneficial to allow consideration for an offender's specific economic situation. A $1000 in fines is very different for a guy making $25k a year than someone making $200k.

2nd offense - 10% of gross income in fines plus jail, suspended license, etc.

3rd offense - 20% fine + a year or so in jail.

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I think it's probably just about right for the first offense but repeat offenses are not handled appropriately.  There should be mandatory jail time as well as mandatory counselling and multiple years of the breathalyzer starters for multiple offenses.

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My wife was hit by a drunk driver a few years ago. Luckily all she ended up with was a cracked rib, but it was a really bad running of a stoplight accident.

However, I am hardly innocent as I have driven impaired multiple times. I like to think it was always on the very low-end scale of things, but without taking breathalyzer test it's hard to know exactly how impaired you might be.

My distracted driving level is probably ten times worse than my impaired driving level. I have also fallen asleep at the wheel twice, and once ended up in a pretty bad single car accident as a result.

I think just in general, we are way too lax about what we're doing behind the wheel and I know I am probably one of the most guilty.

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5 hours ago, [scooter] said:

No.

In 2016, there were 10,497 deaths from drunk driving, and 3450 deaths from "distracted driving" (which includes texting).

I don't doubt that the number of people who text-and-drive is larger than the number of people who drink-and-drive. But the texters cause far fewer deaths, and therefore texting should not be considered to be a bigger problem than drinking.

How do they determine "distracted driving"?  It seems like it's much easier to collect accurate statistics of drunk driving accidents than texting accidents.

It's easy to test someone after an accident where they appear inebriated and find out factually that they are drunk.  I would imagine there are a LOT of accidents where someone was playing on their phone where they neglect to mention that part when being interviewed by the police officer.

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3 minutes ago, FreeBaGeL said:

How do they determine "distracted driving"?  It seems like it's much easier to collect accurate statistics of drunk driving accidents than texting accidents.

It's easy to test someone after an accident where they appear inebriated and find out factually that they are drunk.  I would imagine there are a LOT of accidents where someone was playing on their phone where they neglect to mention that part when being interviewed by the police officer.

It shouldn't be that hard to figure out whether an incoming or outgoing text happened at the time of the accident.  Granted it wouldn't catch every case.

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1 minute ago, Foosball God said:

It shouldn't be that hard to figure out whether an incoming or outgoing text happened at the time of the accident.  Granted it wouldn't catch every case.

What percentage of accidents do you think they actually check this on?  0.01%?  Maybe if they cause an 800 car pile up on the DC Freeway otherwise I doubt this is ever looked at.

Besides that, there are a zillion things people are doing on their phone while driving that don't involve sending text messages.  "Driving while texting" has become kind of the catch-all term for playing with your phone while driving but it often doesn't involve sending actual texts and is just as problematic.

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19 minutes ago, Jayrod said:

My distracted driving level is probably ten times worse than my impaired driving level. I have also fallen asleep at the wheel twice, and once ended up in a pretty bad single car accident as a result.

I think just in general, we are way too lax about what we're doing behind the wheel and I know I am probably one of the most guilty.

And you're the reason that our children, for the most part, won't have the ability to drive.  Once we move to automated vehicles the insurance premium add-on for human controlled driving will be sky high.

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4 minutes ago, FreeBaGeL said:

What percentage of accidents do you think they actually check this on?  0.01%?  Maybe if they cause an 800 car pile up on the DC Freeway otherwise I doubt this is ever looked at.

Besides that, there are a zillion things people are doing on their phone while driving that don't involve sending text messages.  "Driving while texting" has become kind of the catch-all term for playing with your phone while driving but it often doesn't involve sending actual texts and is just as problematic.

I think when they result in a death they do, which is what that statistic was supposed to represent, but what do I know.

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1 minute ago, FreeBaGeL said:
5 hours ago, [scooter] said:

No.

In 2016, there were 10,497 deaths from drunk driving, and 3450 deaths from "distracted driving" (which includes texting).

I don't doubt that the number of people who text-and-drive is larger than the number of people who drink-and-drive. But the texters cause far fewer deaths, and therefore texting should not be considered to be a bigger problem than drinking.

How do they determine "distracted driving"?  It seems like it's much easier to collect accurate statistics of drunk driving accidents than texting accidents.

In cases of fatal wrecks, it would seem that the police would be able to gather some pretty convincing circumstantial evidence (i.e., cell phone records).

This study shows that fatalities from "distracted driving" peaked in 2003. But it also shows a very high number of fatalities in 1999 -- which was a time when fewer people texted and more people talked on their cell phones. I can't find any records prior to 1999, so I'm not sure if they even tracked "Distracted Driving" before then.

 

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7 minutes ago, FreeBaGeL said:
10 minutes ago, Foosball God said:

It shouldn't be that hard to figure out whether an incoming or outgoing text happened at the time of the accident.  Granted it wouldn't catch every case.

What percentage of accidents do you think they actually check this on?  0.01%?

I would think that they checked the cell records (or had other circumstantial evidence) for most of the cases involving fatalities.

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48 minutes ago, Kanil said:

I think it's probably just about right for the first offense but repeat offenses are not handled appropriately.  There should be mandatory jail time as well as mandatory counselling and multiple years of the breathalyzer starters for multiple offenses.

I think one year suspended license is not an unreasonable ask.  These occur much too frequently for the current penalties to be considered an adequate deterrent.

 

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27 minutes ago, [scooter] said:

I would think that they checked the cell records (or had other circumstantial evidence) for most of the cases involving fatalities.

Do they check to see what time someone last updated their facebook profile pic?  When the last time they checked their action network app to see how their sports bets are doing ? The last time they logged in to Candy Crush?  Do they check the last time they opened an email?  The last time a webpage loaded?  The last time they changed their spotify playlist?  The last time they shazam'd a song on the radio?  The last time they looked for a gas station along their route in google maps?  Do they have a way to see if someone was reading a text that was actually sent 30 minutes ago?

This all seems very unlikely to me.  I think there are a lot more phone related accidents happening than they could possibly ever even begin to track.

Edited by FreeBaGeL

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4 hours ago, fantasycurse42 said:

Distracted driving is clearly a huge problem. It’s crazy that Apple, Samsung, etc can’t (won’t) simply implement a technology that shuts your ability to use your phone while driving.

Regardless, I think a lot of people who say just right or lenient lump DUI in a category similar to non-violent drug users first offense, I disagree with that. Just because you didn’t kill someone, doesn’t mean you couldn’t have. To me, it’s a violent crime, DUI puts everyone on the road at risk, and I feel you should be penalized as such.

Android has apps that do this for you

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Too lenient. But then again almost all traffic laws are too lenient. 

ETA: at least when discussing net results. 

 

Edited by parasaurolophus

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2 hours ago, shadyridr said:

Passengers can't use their phones then. Can't use navigation. It's tougher than it sounds. 

Waze works, but only if the car was stopped at the time of programming or someone says they are the passenger. Of course, the driver can lie and say they are the passenget, but it is a start. The nav on my wife's car wont't work if the car is anything but stopped.  - ie you have to program it at a stop light or in the driveway;

 

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