Re: Who is responsible?
This is long. Read it or not as you wish. But we need to quit screwing around with assholes who drink and drive, bar owners/bartenders that continue supplying them long after the point of obvious intoxication, and mindless jackasses who text and talk on cellphones oblivious to the fact that there are others on the roads as well.
I think we need a “meeting of the minds” regarding laws in general. From the tenor of the responses to GL’s post, there seems to be some confusion. So, let’s clear that up immediately.
Once the executive branch of government (a governor at the state level, president at the federal level) signs a BILL into LAW, it’s a done deal. The public’s agreement is not required, only its compliance. At this point law enforcement need not give a crap what the public THINKS.
Now, as to this notion of implicit unfairness in holding alcohol-serving businesses or their attending bartenders responsible for drinkers who decide to get drunk and drive under the influence, it is NEITHER unfair, nor does the law hold anyone but inebriated drinkers responsible for their own actions.
It never used to matter in this country (Delaware was no exception) of what bartenders or their bosses did relative to drunken patrons. The status-quo rationale was that drinkers made the decision to drink and drive and the drinkers should be held accountable for the consequences.
But, while a majority of drinkers in this country (Delaware included) DO take personal responsibility for their conduct by not getting shitfaced and driving, there are those who do NOT.
People can bemoan the death of personal responsibility until they turn blue; but it will do no good. There has ALWAYS been and there ALWAYS will be a cadre of assholes who simply do NOT take personal responsibility for their actions.
Thus we enact laws to handle this crowd. And I’ll concede that, at least on the surface, many of our laws seem ill-conceived (due to pure political motivation), badly written (albeit with the sincerest of intentions), and erratically enforced (due to the sheer volume of duplicative laws on the books).
But, the point is that we enact laws to handle the non-stop proliferation of cases provided by the “refuse-to-take-personal-responsibility crowd.” The rest of us obey the laws of the land to the best of our ability.
At some point a few decades ago, a prosecutor decided that enough was enough relative to drunk drivers and a lack of initiative on the part of bar owners and their bartenders in trying to curb the problem. And he concluded from a scientific standpoint, at least, that “under the influence” has a serious context.
Inebriated drinkers are not capable of making rational decisions. Whether we choose to believe it or not, it’s a fact. And whether the problem stems from an inexperience with drinking responsibly (young people), alcoholism, or just flat-out stupidity is of little consolation for the victims of drunk drivers.
The fact is that they do things that they’d probably NOT do otherwise. But, the problem is that once such drinkers have had too much to drink, it’s no longer a matter of OTHERWISE; they’ve become DRUNK.
The law does NOT hold bar owners and their bartenders responsible for the behavior of drunken patrons who decide to drive. It holds them responsible for their complicit behavior in failing to take REASONABLE preventable measures to curb it. And, the least of these include ceasing to serve additional alcohol and taking reasonable precautions in trying to prevent them from driving away from THEIR premises.
That first successful case at enforcing this became precedent for all future cases involving bar owners and bartenders. It sent the message that bar owners and their bartenders are INDEED responsible for the consequences of continued serving of alcohol to patrons already inebriated.
And, it has WORKED; both of these parties think LONG and HARD before continuing to feed alcohol to obviously inebriated patrons.
The case involving the texting incident is an attempt by another prosecutor to establish a precedent involving texting (reading and sending) while one’s vehicle is in motion.
It may appear to be pointlessly frivolous to some. But, if the evidence of party negligence is there, it is anything but pointless. However, we shall see; the matter will go to a preliminary hearing before a judge. The prosecution will present its evidence and the defense will try to refute it.
The judge will rule one way or the other. And, what will determine if it goes to trial will have nothing to do with that judge’s FEELINGS on the matter of texting while driving.
If the judge finds that the case holds at least one point that is arguable in fact, it will go to trial. In other words, does this case possess issues of fact that a jury, the triers of fact—or a judge sitting as the trier of fact—can reasonably determine.
I have zero tolerance—ZEEROW tolerance—for people who drive drunk. Two of my family members, neither of which drank at all, were killed by drunk drivers. And’ I’m rapidly gaining an equal disdain for assholes that text while driving, and this includes police officers.
Yesterday afternoon, I was stopped at the intersection of Weldin and Shipley roads (4-way stop sign) with IHM Catholic Church and School to my left). I was the next in line to go as a Delaware State Trooper and a young woman in an SUV approached the intersection. She was headed toward Wilson Road and the trooper was headed toward Washington Street Extension.
But, as I began my turn, the young woman—talking on her cellphone—rolled right through the intersection. She was talking on her cellphone! The trooper, also talking on HIS cellphone, waved for me to make my turn.
I thought for sure that the trooper would flip his lights on and do an about face. But, he didn’t; he just went on his way. Perhaps he was talking with that young woman!
I don’t know! I do know that the cellphone laws in Delaware are a joke. And, while I don’t hold this trooper up as a telling characteristic of the entire Delaware State Police Force, he certainly didn’t appear as one of their best.
Just as incidences of bar owners and bartenders serving booze to the obviously inebriated, texting and cellphone conversations while driving has to stop. And, if the prosecutor pushing the point with this case can get some needed attention, I’m all for it!
Even if the pessimists are right, in the end, the optimists will have had a much more enjoyable trip through life.