Ask the Best and Brightest: Define "Buzzed"

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

The Ad Council and the NHTSA sent me a link to their campaign: “ Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving.” The ad and seat belt folks want Joe and Jane Q. Public to sign an e-pledge promising not to drive buzzed. Yes, well, what’s the definition of “buzzed”? At first, I thought it meant driving under the influence of non-alcoholic drugs: cannabis, crack, coke, Clonazepam, etc. (and those are just the “c”s). More poetically (though far less likely), I wondered if it had something to do with the after-effects of doing the horizontal mambo with Jill Wagner or [your choice of homosexual heartthrob here]. But no. The campaigners contend that “Buzzed driving is drunk driving.” So why not call it drunk driving? Theory: they’re trying to position the “technical” debate downwards, to the lowest possible Blood Alcohol Content level. Which ignores the simple, inescapable fact that the majority of drunk drivers are habitual offenders who are WAY over the legal limit. SUBMIT? Not without a little clarification, thanks. What say you?

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Ronnie Schreiber Ronnie Schreiber on Jul 14, 2009

    I know tons of people who routinely (and safely) smoke marijuana while driving. I'm not saying that novice pot smokers should drive under the influence, I'm just saying that there's demonstrable evidence that some folks can drive safely while high on pot. Likewise, I'm sure that there are people that have the combination of driving skill and drinking experience, to be able to drive safely with a BAC of >.075%. MADD, like many advocacy groups, has had mission creep, since accomplishing its original goals of reducing teen drinking and driving. Then they lobbied to lower limits from .1% to .08%. Now MADD advocates that any alcohol intake necessarily impairs driving. The organization has departed so far from its original mission and morphed so much into a modern temperance organization that MADD's original founder has been openly critical of the group. The only times I've really been dangerously impaired behind the wheel have been when I've been tired and falling asleep. One problem with MADD, nanny staters and revenue hungry police departments is that current enforcement regarding drinking and driving discourages the right thing. People who have decided that they are too drunk to drive have been successfully prosecuted for sleeping it off in the car. Yes, Virginia, you can be found guilty of a drunk driving offense even while asleep. Getting behind the wheel, even if you never put the key in the ignition, has been ruled (by judges paid with traffic fines) to be "operating a motor vehicle".

  • FleetofWheel FleetofWheel on Jul 14, 2009

    If they were successful in lowering the allowed BAC to some low level like .01, then they would focus their energies on curtailing other aspects of motoring. MADD would alter their name to Mothers Against DANGEROUS Driving. They would seek horse power and acceleration limits, saying "Only police and emergency rescue vehicles need such power, blah blah, sky falling, limit, tax, surcharge, blah, blah".

  • Stevenm Stevenm on Jul 14, 2009

    Personally, I'd rather share the road with a hundred "buzzed" drivers than one soccer mom pseudo-driving an Escalade while yacking on the phone, applying makeup, and screaming at her kids in the back seat. What I wouldn't give for an anti-idiot advocacy group.

  • Benders Benders on Jul 15, 2009

    Yeah, because an internet pledge will really make someone say, "But I promised my computer I wouldn't drive buzzed." and take a cab home after a beer.