“Senile Citizen” checkpoints?

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How come you never see “senile citizen” checkpoints?

After all, elder drivers are the second-highest “at-risk” group of drivers after new/teenage drivers – according to accident stats. They are not uncommonly afflicted with physical maladies such as very poor eyesight (especially at night), limited mobility and dangerously slow reflexes. There are also problems such as dementia.

If the issue is impairment, does it really matter what caused it? Are you any less dead – is your car any less smashed up – if the person who hit you was senile (or sleepy) rather than drunk?

Yet “sobriety checkpoints are commonplace” – “senile citizen” checkpoints nonexistent.

Why?

Sobriety checkpoints are based on the idea that liquor (and other drug) impaired drivers constitute a threat to public safety. Ok. But how come so selective?

I’m not trying to give Them - you know, bureaucrats and politicians and other such vermin – ideas.

Just trying to make a point.

Old drivers are greatly indulged in this country, even when when they’re obviously past it – and arguably more of a danger to themselves and others than the guy who had a couple of beers with his dinner who has the bad luck to roll up on a “sobriety checkpoint.” Unlike the addled old coot doing 27 in a 45, the guy’s driving might be faultless – even if his BAC level is above the politically permissible maximum.

Consider, for instance, the oldster who can barely see, who wanders across the double yellow, jumps curbs, breezes through red lights, hits the gas instead of the brake pedal – maybe even drives through a plate glass window.

The same cop who will eagerly bust me or thee for not wearing a seatbelt or driving 10 MPH over the limit will patiently follow the elder driver meandering along at 27 in a 45, drifting over the double yellow and then back onto the shoulder – without lighting up his flashers or even pulling the road hazard over. The chances of the cop issuing el viejo a ticket for obstructing traffic are slim to nil.

Right?

We’ll all be old someday. I actually had a cop tell me once. Translation: It’s ok to endanger others by your driving if it’s because of biological processes as opposed to one drink too many.

Being ancient and addled is an acceptable form of impairment – treated gently by the law. That sweet old lady who just ran over a bunch of people didn’t mean any harm. Well, probably neither did the drunk driver. He was just having a few with his buddies and it got out of control.

Same goes for the drowsy driver who just nodded off… and veered into the oncoming lane f traffic, causing a horrendous wreck.

But he’s not a social pariah – or the target of a modern-day witch hunt. Or even random roadblocks to check for attentiveness (or senility).

The point is, the cause of being impaired should be irrelevant as a legal matter. It is arbitrary and unfair to target “drunk drivers” – but not Sleepy Sams and Distracted Debbys.

Or Senile Sams, for that matter.

And the most equitable way to go about weeding these impaired drivers out is by having cops out looking for signs of impairment: The person who is driving erratically, or much slower (or faster) than surrounding traffic, cutting off other cars, following too closely; weaving/wandering. That kind of thing. You know – actual evidence that the person is having a problem properly controlling his vehicle. The reason for his poor driving is – or should be – completely incidental.

Pull any such driver over and check ‘em out. I don’t think anyone would have a problem with the aforesaid erratic/unsafe driving constituting probable cause for such on the spot screening – a pull-over, with an interview by the cop and (if he sees reason to) a breath test or whatever is necessary to establish whether the person has been boozing it up – or is just addled. It’s fair, it’s reasonable. It involves cause and effect; you have to do something to warrant the attention of the law.

What people do have an issue with is the system we now have of random – and arbitrary – enforcement. People are routinely stopped for absolutely no reason and forced to undergo a once-over by a cop, including Q&A and having the cop take a look inside your car. Whether you’ve “got anything to hide” is as immaterial to the question as giving the IRS carte blanche to just randomly “check” your financial records at whim, just because. Oh. Yeah. I forgot. They can already do that. But you get the point.

“Drunks” (even when they’re not even that) are crucified – but equally dangerous or even more dangerous “senile driving” (and sleepy driving and all sorts of other less-than-ideal driving) is given a pass.

Why? I suspect it’s because of the moralistic streak that America has. Mix in some Yankee self-righteousness and – presto! – you’ve got the makings of a crusade. Old people are just old. Sleepy people – well, we all get sleepy, don’t we?

But drinkers? Get thee behind me, Satan!

Or something along those lines… .

Throw it in the Woods?

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  21 comments for ““Senile Citizen” checkpoints?

  1. clover
    April 15, 2011 at 1:33 am

    Again making things up. Have you EVER seen it where an elderly person was weaving back and forth across lines and the cops did nothing? Prove it. Driving under the speed limit is not against the law and usually not a safety problem except for some of the other idiots on the road. Weaving across lines will get you stopped.
    Again you back drinking and driving. Drinking and driving is a decision that is made that everyone should know endangers the driver and everyone else around them. Speeding because of a major brake failure probably will not get you a ticket because it is not a deliberate decision to break the law and endanger others.

    • April 15, 2011 at 12:14 pm

      Truly, Clover, I wish that I were! In fact, I’ve seen (and continue to see, almost weekly) some doddering old febe meandering across the double yellow at 10-20 MPH below the speed limit on the windy mountain roads in my area. The cops do nothing – because there are no cops around. They’re too busy manning stationary radar traps and sobriety checkpoints!

      You’re right: Driving under the speed limit is not against the law; but obstructing traffic is – and is almost never enforced. Who is more (much more) likely to be pulled over and ticketed: The guy doing 10 over or the person doing 10 under (with an angry line of cars stuck behind him)?

      Drinking and driving: Yes, I think it’s ok to have a drink and drive because having a drink and driving is not drunk driving (or even “impaired”) driving. If a person is genuinely drunk – and driving erratically or recklessly – then yes (Hell yes) he should be pulled over and, if convicted, very seriously punished. But do I think a person who isn’t driving erratically or recklessly but who has a little alcohol in his system ought to be crucified as a “drunk” driver? Hell no!

    • Boothe
      November 10, 2011 at 3:55 pm

      Sonja, thanks for resurrecting this thread. Clover is bent on proving that if a thing hasn’t happend to him, he denies its existence. Clover, here are just three examples from my personal experience (not all inclusive by any stretch, just notable) with “impaired” drivers that the cops did nothing about.

      1) I was riding my motorcycle southbound on Mary Esther Cutoff (Florida: the blue hair capitol of the world) when an elderly gentleman and his wife in a Chevy Caprice leaving Santa Rosa Mall crossed the acceleration lane, both traffic lanes and into the turn lane, diagonally, forcing me up over the curb and into the median. He never looked anywhere but straight ahead. I pulled up next to their car and yelled at them until the woman noticed, told grandpa (who couldn’t hear me), he looked at me, freaked out and turned left against the red arrow right in front of oncoming traffic. They nearly killed me, then nearly killed some other folks. But because there was no cop in sight, Clover can’t accept that it really happened. Denial is a wonderful thing…

      2) I was westbound on Racetrack Rd. about 9:00PM (it was dark out), once again on a bike, running an Osram 80/100W headlight (illegally bright, but no one could say “I couldn’t see you’). I was approaching a green light when an elderly woman pulled right out in front of me. Not satisfied that she’d forced me into the left lane, she proceeded to force me up over the curb and into the median (I sure am glad I was good rider). She never looked back, so I followed her home.

      When she got out of the car, I pulled up and yelled “What were thinking! You nearly killed me back there!” Did she respond I’m sorry or I didn’t see you? No. I’ll never forget this: she snapped back, “Well Florida has a right turn on red law!” My response to that was less than polite I assure you. But again Clover didn’t see it, so it didn’t happen, right?

      3) I was on my way home from work in rural Virginia when a wealthy member of the community who was not only senile, but arrogant and drunk, ran a stop sign in her Fifth Avenue, forced me out of the curve I was entering and down the side road she had just come from (at about 55MPH). I was in a truck this time, not on a bike! I turned around and followed her to the corner store where she stopped and confronted her. She responded by asking me (slurring it all) “Do you know who I am? I am ___ ___ ___ and I’ll drive any G-D way I want to young man!” Got back in her car and took off right out onto Rte. 10 without even looking! This was hardly the first time she’d done things like this and not the last either.

      But because she was an heiress to a huge paper company fortune and her husband was a prominent area minister the cops gave her a wink and a nod. Drunk (and I do mean trashed) or not she got a pass. There’s your precious system at work Clover; equal protection under the law my ass. If it had been the other way around, I’d have been somebody’s bitch down at the county jail for a few months and had to pony up a few thousand to boot. But it didn’t happen to you, so it simply didn’t happen, right Clover?

      That fact is Clover, the system is designed to extract wealth from the productive class and transfer it to the parasite class. If you think your “leaders” really care about you and are doing this for your safety, ask yourself this: If I were laying in the ditch on fire and my congressman / senator / president / etc. was riding by, would he bother to stop and piss on me? I think you already know the answer.

      • November 10, 2011 at 4:37 pm

        Amen –

        Here’s another:

        Just last week, when the weather was warm, I decided to take a short trip (appx. 90 miles) on my bike up to Lynchburg to visit Thomas Jefferson’s country house, Poplar Forest. Which, by the way, I recommend visiting if you’re in the area. Anyhow. On the return leg, on US 460 – which is a 55 MPH two-lane (each direction) divided highway – I am in the left lane coming up beside a semi on the right. The semi suddenly heaves into my lane, almost forcing me off the road and very likely to a serious accident (possibly fatal) which I only avoided by the grace of a motorcycle’s ability to accelerate like an F-18 when necessary. This was one of those necessary moments. I managed – just – to squeak past the son of a bitch – who was on the godamn sail fawn. He didn’t even see me until I got in front of him and let him know, by every gesture I could muster, what I thought about his genuinely reckless, idiot driving. But of course, no cop in sight. And why? Because the bastards are out looking for “speeders” and setting up “safety checkpoints” instead.

        Thanks, Clover.

        • dom
          November 10, 2011 at 4:44 pm

          Went thru a safety checkpoint this morning. I’m pretty much feeling super safe right now!

          • November 10, 2011 at 4:51 pm

            I am so glad we don’t have them (much) around here. It’s one of the reasons why we moved. I think Id be dead – or in jail – otherwise. I’m 45. So I remember what it was like to live in a sort-of free country.

            And I can’t accept living in an unfree one.

            I wish Americans had more balls. If even 10 percent of us just refused to be treated like criminals for no reason at all, we could turn things around.

            But, the Safety Sleeping Sickness (which renders its victims passive and inert whenever “safety” is mentioned) has overtaken the whole damn country, just about.

    • doncooper
      November 10, 2011 at 5:59 pm

      You talk like you only use one half of your brain. You falsely assume that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Nobody is advocating driving after drinking too much. They’re saying that it is but one bad decision of many that a driver can make so why is it given so much attention and not the others? How about people, of any age, who are simply just very bad drivers?

      And breaking the law and endangering others are two different things. If I j-walk, am I endangering others simply due to the fact that I’m not crossing where the gov’t tells me to cross? But even though my 84-year-old father has a legal driver’s license he still endangers others when he changes lanes without checking his blind spot because his neck can’t turn that far anymore.

      If you rely on the “law” to be your moral compass and decide for you what is right and what is wrong, then one day you are going to end up dead right!

  2. ed tiesenhausen
    April 15, 2011 at 3:57 am

    one morning i was headed to work early (6.00 a.m.).as i turned onto the highway i noticed a car in the distance coming towards me in my lane. as it got closer i pulled over to the right shoulder and then the ditch to get out of the way and avoid a head on colision. as the car went by i saw it was being driven by a very old looking gentleman with his wife(?) sitting beside him. as they dissapeared in the distance (still in my lane) i thougt holy shit what are these people doing on the road.

    • April 15, 2011 at 10:34 am

      Yep! My parents live in AZ (Scottsdale) and I see “senior driving” all the time when I visit. Mind: This is not a slam against older people as a class of people. There are (of course) old people who are better/safer drivers than young people. The point I was trying to make in my article was that American law enforcement has arbitrary fetishes – such as “speeding” and “drunk” driving (which increasingly isn’t anything of the sort).

    • Sonja
      November 10, 2011 at 6:41 am

      Ed,
      I think I saw that same car only further along their journey. They must have been trying to exit because I caught them on my on ramp. Older gentleman and his wife in a cadillac (imagine that). I tried flashing my lights but he kept on his way and I had to pull to the side. He sure was determined, Ill give him that. Hah!
      Not my first encounter with senile drivers…I’ve always believed at the age of 70 we need to take a drivers test again,

      • November 10, 2011 at 10:09 am

        I’d rather the cops just quit giving senile citizen drivers a pass. “We’ll all be old someday.” Well, yeah. But we’ll all be drunk someday, too. (Most of us, anyhow.) So is it ok to drive then also? I’d rather our society regarded impaired driving (for whatever reason) as the problem – and only bothered people who showed signs of it, by their driving.

        But that would take actual policework – patrols looking for weavers and so on. And it would be fair, too – unlike random checkpoints.

        So naturally, we can’t have that.

    • doncooper
      November 11, 2011 at 2:25 pm

      Had a similar experience with my grandparents when I was sixteen. My 80-year-old grandfather starting heading up a mountain side on the wrong side of the road and there was a large barrier in the median so it wasn’t simply a matter of changing lanes. Once I realized what he was doing, I said something and he turned around. Luckily no one was coming down the mountain or I wouldn’t be writing this today.

  3. AngryOldMan
    April 15, 2011 at 9:42 am

    http://www.caranddriver.com/features/09q3/yo_mama_can_t_drive-feature

    “A Michelin engineer who tests driver behavior once told me, ‘Most people, when faced with cornering beyond 0.4 g or hitting a tree, choose the tree.’”

    • April 15, 2011 at 11:08 am

      Yep! Despite 18 and 19 inch wheels with Z-rated tires and all the rest of it…. never has the capability of the average new car been so high… and the skill level of the average driver so low. And a big part of the reason for this is our idiotic (that is, idiot-based) traffic laws, which encourage dumbed-down Cloverite “driving” while punishing the non-Clovers who can drive.

  4. Brent P
    April 23, 2011 at 2:38 am

    I have argued time and time again that what should be attacked is “bad driving”, not driving with a BAC level that is arbitrarily too high. The reaction is generally unpleasant, as if I had argued for turning small children into a food source.

    The argument that brings about silence or insults is that, what does it matter to me if the driver who crashed into my car damaging me and/or my property is sober, drunk, old, or anything else? Just like those ‘buzzed driving’ PSAs, it doesn’t make me better because they weren’t drunk.

    The safety reasoning is just the public excuse to execute a control freak social policy while establishing greater government intrusion into our lives. Drunk drivers are a classic socially disliked group upon which the state can expand its power. Here again people expect laws to be used only on those “bad people”, not elderly and well liked Mr. Magoo.

    I see Magoos (young and old) out on the road far more often than drunks. I might see a drunk once a year. I see magoos nearly every day. I have a video from last weekend of texting magoo just cutting me off.. his exit was at least 3/4mile away but he just moved over right in front of me. Texting while driving being the newest possible cause for bad driving to be illegal. Bad driving has been illegal for decades, but people want “something done”. Perhaps at some point being born will be made illegal to prevent all sorts of possible harm to others.

    • April 23, 2011 at 9:49 am

      Amen! Bad driving is the best evidence of impairment there is, and the source of impairment is ultimately irrelevant. But, tell it to the Clovers… .

  5. richard
    November 10, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    Interesting thread. I am retired from law enforcement having worked in jails and prisons for 24 years. Many, many times I’ve booked ‘drunks’ into jail and asked them as part of the procedure where they were arrested. ‘In my driveway or ‘on my porch with door keys in my hand’ was a common answer. Never could understand why a person would be hooked in that situation. I worked in Idaho where ‘zero tolerance’ for just about anything ruled and still does. (Another topic, another time.) Officers there like to arrest folks for ‘walking drunk.’ (publicly intoxicated.) Folks sleeping it off in their vehicles while safely parked would be arrested as well. Lovely state, but well down the road to 1984.

    • November 10, 2011 at 6:15 pm

      When I was in college – ’80s – there were many times I “slept it off” in my car after a party. Today, a kid who makes the responsible decision to sleep in his car after too much drinking might as well just go ahead and drive – because the law treats them both the same.

      It’s despicable.

  6. doncooper
    November 10, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    Funny I posted something on this in the forum today but didn’t know Eric had written this. Agree 100%. Common sense really isn’t it? Would anyone feel better about the fact that their loved one was killed in an auto accident because they were hit by my 84-year-old father who can’t turn his head to check his blind spot rather than someone who has had too much to drink?

    Drinking and driving was politicized, and if a group of people can politicize an issue then it will likely become law and penalize EVERYONE for what some people might do at some point in the future.
    It has nothing to do with anything just or moral or even in the best interest of society.

    DUI laws are stupid anyway. Somebody has had too much to drink, but yet still believes he can drive safe and has literally made the irrational decision to bet his life and the life of others on it, but then he’s going to stop all of a sudden and make the rational decision that there’s a law against it and he could end up spending a night in jail and paying a fine so he’d better not.

    Is it happy hour yet?

    • richard
      November 10, 2011 at 7:08 pm

      I think the statement, “The personal is political” was first uttered in the 60′s by a feminist. Could be wrong about the feminist part, but that phrase just pisses me off. The personal is just that – personal. Once you politicize anything, it becomes something it wasn’t previously – CRAP. Meh.

      • doncooper
        November 11, 2011 at 3:44 pm

        I respect women’s rights the same as anyone’s rights but if we are so goddamn equal, how come people have to be forced to treat women equally?

        Isn’t that delusional thinking? I clearly have a larger piece of pie than you, but I’m going to force you to admit that they are actually equal in size. And if you refuse then I’ll take your money and if you continue to refuse then I’ll put you out of business altogether. You choose? WTF?

        Just saying it doesn’t make it so.

        And if men and women really are equal, then why the political campaign for equality at all? LMAO! Stupid is as stupid does.

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