New Divining Rod for Drunkeness

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, St. Louis area police have a new gizmo to use on motorists:

More St. Louis-area police officers are carrying extra gadgets this holiday season to help them catch drunks on the road.

Several police departments in Missouri and Illinois have acquired the new technology during the past year. It is geared for traffic enforcement and could be key in the campaign to halt drunken driving during the holidays.

In the past six months, St. Louis County police bought portable breath testers for each precinct station.

Now officers in the field can easily test a driver who might straddle the line between sober and illegally drunk, police said. Results from the tests are not admissible in court, but officers can use the test as probable cause to arrest a driver then test him or her on a more sophisticated machine at the jail.

That’s right, fellows. They’ve got a new divining rod that, if it twitches right, indicates you might be in violation of the law. Enough to arrest you and drag you downtorn or to Clayton. For violating a law that’s sliding slipperily but certainly to the point where wearing an alcohol-based cologne will make you legally intoxicated. Why do the police think this new gizmo is important?

“Some professional drunks can fool you,” said Maj. Timothy Fitch, commander of the St. Louis County police patrol division. “Even if they can pass the field sobriety tests, they can’t pass this.”

Got that? People who are “professional drunks” can pass field sobriety tests–by not behaving in such a manner as to indicate the alcohol has affected them! Could it be that they’re perhaps not driving badly either?

What, you think I am making this up and it will only be applied to people who drive forty miles an hour in reverse on the shoulder on the wrong side of the highway? Wrong.

Departments expect these gadgets will come in handy during roadside safety checks and extra patrols scheduled for the New Year’s holiday. [Emphasis mine.]

Roadside safety check? Buddy, that means the sobriety checkpoints the police set up on the roads wherein all vehicles get screened. So whatever false positives this thing provides, complete with paddy wagon ride and booking, that means you Mormons are eligible, too.

A pile of cash and another nick in our liberty, for what? Here’s the numbers, in a metropolitan area of up to three million people (depending upon the counties you include):

Officers gave DWI violations to 713 drivers through November last year. They arrested 922 in the same time period this year.

That’s almost three arrests per day. In a population of three million. Obviously the profession of drunkeness does not pay well, or most professional drunks are telecommuters. What’s the life savings?

Last year, Missouri lost 525 people in alcohol-related crashes.

Fewer than two per day, and I would wager that many of those deaths were self-inflicted.

Individually, drunk driving deaths are tragedies, particularly the non-drunk victims. However, I do dispute that all the effort and ever-tightening legislative and law-enforcement nooses drawn around the problem probably have entered the diminishing returns effort. And it’s more than the returns that diminish; it’s our very freedom, Chester.

Now have a Guinness, and walk home, for crying out loud. A little cool air will clear your head, and you could use the exercise.

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