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Drunk Driving & Crime

Posted on:7/26/2012
Thanks to the concerted efforts of MADD, DWI now regularly appears among the list of compensable offenses.


Thanks to the concerted efforts of MADD, DWI now regularly appears among the list of compensable offenses. Even the statute that sets minimum requirements for federal support of state victim compensation programs explicitly requires that these programs “offer compensation to victims and survivors of victims of criminal violence, including drunk driving.”

 

“Drunk driving,” however, is exactly like speeding. Just calling it “criminal violence” doesn't make it so. Like speeding (and gun possession), DWI is an abstract endangerment offense. It requires the operation of a motor vehicle in a certain condition, namely while intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol or some other intoxicant. That's all.

 

DWI does not require the infliction, or even the threat of infliction, of harm upon anyone. The person who drives down a deserted country road at night is as guilty of it as the person who hits and kills three people in downtown Los Angeles. “Drunk driving” is just that, drunk driving. By definition, then, it has no more victims than, say, riding a bicycle with [one's] feet removed from the pedals.

 

There may, of course, be particular persons who suffer as a result of someone's drunk driving. But they are not victims of drunk driving in the criminal sense. They cannot be victims of the crime of drunk driving for the simple reason that the crime of drunk driving does not include within its definition any reference to a victim. That's why we call it an accident when someone who commits the offense of speeding or of driving while intoxicated or some other “moving violation” causes harm to another or to himself.


  
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