Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Should There be Laws Against Drinking and Driving?

Dr. Sean Gabb of the Libertarian Alliance injects some common sense into the issue of drinking and driving.
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Sean Gabb, Director of the Libertarian Alliance, speaking on BBC Radio 4 on the 22nd January 2013.

The excuse for this discussion was a story about an Irish local authority that wishes to relax the drinking and driving laws.

Sean argues these points:

  • That the Libertarian Alliance regards road traffic accidents as bad things.
  • That anyone who causes a road traffic accident should be effectively punished, and that drunkenness should be an aggravating factor for sentencing.
  • However, that the great majority of those punished in England for drinking and driving were not noticeably driving erratically. They tested positive in random stops by the police.
  • That stopping people without probable cause, and subjecting them to some physical test is a violation of their human rights. It is also a waste of the money we are compelled to give the police.
  • That this is equivalent in principle to making people turn their bags out on railway trains on the offchance that they are carrying stolen property.

Sean was asked by the presenter if he thought the current laws had reduced the amount of drinking and driving. Sean answered that shooting drunk drivers out of hand on the roadside would be more effective, but that it would not be done for obvious reasons.

The woman from a charity called Brake came in to say that the right to life is the most precious right. Sean decided, because he would have been silenced, not to make the following reply:

  • That states are not notably concerned about the protection of life. In the past century, thugs in uniform have been ordered by their political or military superiors to kill about 200 million people.
  • This point aside, that there are equally effective means of reducing road traffic accidents that do not require the shredding of our common law protections.

Note: Brake has been called a “fake charity” on the grounds that the majority of its income is from the taxpayers. According to Mark Wadsworth:

Their website screams fakecharity – it uses the same template as all the others, with sub-pages for ‘Home’, ‘About us’, ‘Contact us’, ‘Our supporters’ (as a variant on ‘Support us’ or ‘Donate’), ‘Jobs’ and ‘Links’.

The income in their 2007 accounts (see page 8) was as follows:

Corporate partnership £285,718
Donations £333,057
Road Safety Education £296,984
BrakeCare £75,979
Fleet Safety Forum £66,535
Research £3,360
Investment income £15,759

Their list of corporate partners seems innocuous enough. Donations include “Community Fundraising £236,319” (which might or might not be suspect). Note 3 to the accounts discloses income of about £70,000 from the Department for Transport, the Youth Justice Board, the Office for Criminal Justice Reform and the Scottish Executive. Those government departments are all duly listed on their site, along with Children in Need, which you might argue is not a fakecharity.

So far, so not so bad, really. Where it starts to stink a bit is on their list of Organisations working with Brake, which includes, along with some genuinely interested private groups, the following:

British Transport Advisory Committee
Chief Fire Officer Association
Child Accident Prevention Trust
Community Transport Association
Disaster Aftercare Services
European Secure Vehicle Alliance
The Intensive Care Society
Learn + Live
Pre-Hospital Care
Never Away
Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety
Public & Commercial Services Union
Road Operators’ Safety Council
Road Safety Markings Association
The Slower Speeds Initiative
Transport & General Workers Union
Transport Management Association of the NHS
University of Huddersfield

All of which appear to be quangos, fakecharities, public sector pressure groups and/or wholly or party funded or arganised by the government (there may be exceptions and I am happy to edit that list down a bit).

So, to cut a long story short, Brake appears to be, to a large extent, a fake.

Sean Gabb
Director, The Libertarian Alliance (Carbon Positive since 1979) Tel: 07956 472 199

Postal Address: Suite 35, 2 Lansdowne Row, London W1J 6HL, England
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