Recently Michigan passed a new law that is being referred to as the “Super Drunk” law. It defines a difference between drunk and “super drunk”. It seems “super drunk” comes with stiffer penalties. The changes are instead of a maximum of 93 days in jail to a maximum of 180 days for “super drunk” and instead of a $200.00 fine to a $700.00 fine for “super drunk”.
But will this really change the face of drunk driving in Michigan? Opponents of this law seem to feel that this is posturing on the part of the legislators to “appear” tougher on drunk driving. While supporters feel it can be quite effective.
I personally am in doubt that a law that redefines drunk is of benefit. The definition of “super drunk” is a blood alcohol level of .17 or above. Exactly how many beers must one person have in an hour to blow a .17 on a breathalyzer? According to experts that would be about eight beers in an hour for a person weighing about 160 lbs.
I am 110 lbs and female. So, it would be a couple of less beers for me. But, I have to ask myself this question: If someone is downing eight beers in an hour, what are we really dealing with? I can’t drink eight glasses of water, soda or juice in that time without expecting a severe stomach ache. Adding alcohol to that, I would be out cold on the floor or more likely in the hospital with alcohol poisoning.
If lawmakers think a stiffer penalty on someone who has a very clear drinking problem is going to deter them from drinking or getting behind the wheel afterwards, they are sadly mistaken in my opinion.
By the point that someone can down eight beers in one hour and still stand, we are looking at a serious alcoholism problem and sadly, until they realize they have a problem and seriously seek treatment, no law in the land is going to deter them from putting the lives of others at risk by getting behind the wheel.
If the fines and penalties are going to be increased for “super drunk” drivers then there should also be a mandatory stint in treatment. Granted, treatment doesn’t save every person and not everyone stays sober but even getting one of these people off the road is going to save lives.
I am not one to carry on about mental illness and being understanding of those who have addictions that endanger others. I am a believer in trying to find a way that is truly effective in reducing the chances that they will get behind a wheel and kill an innocent person. Isn’t it time we start treating the problem instead of just the symptoms?
Fines, jail time, community service and driving classes will not stop the problem of the “super drunk”. If we are going to spend the money to incarcerate them knowing the chances of them becoming a repeat offender is high then why not get them into AA meetings, rehab and so forth? Why not take real steps to curing the problem?
“Super drunk” is a cute term on a new law but it’s useless until we start to address the problem with repeat offenders and people who have enough alcohol in their body to put a small horse into a coma.
The “super drunk” law will not make any difference until we begin to deal with the cause of the “super drunk” driver.