Never having been drunk, I don't know what it feels like to wake up the next day with a hangover. However, after witnessing people (including, apparently, members of the Arizona House) who have had that "what-the-hell-have-I-done?" moment of not-exactly clarity, I think my decision to go through life alcohol-free works pretty well for me.
In case you missed it, the House and Senate passed a bill, which was signed into law by Gov. Janet Napolitano, which will have even first-time DUI offenders install and use interlocks on their vehicles. These devices would help prevent some drunk-ass individual from getting behind the wheel and going out and killing somebody.
Sounds like a pretty good bill to me, and it also must have sounded good to members of the House, who passed it pretty easily earlier in the year. But then, the Liquor Lobby descended upon the House, and members unsuccessfully attempted to repeal parts or all of that law because ... well, because the Liquor Lobby descended upon the House.
Now, it can't be easy being a legislator, having to keep track of whose bitch you are this week. Gun Lobby? No, that was last week. Cell-Phone Lobby? No, that's EVERY week.
This time, it's the Liquor Lobby, which has done the math and realizes that if people were somehow cajoled, threatened or persuaded to stop drinking short of the point of becoming drunk, that would mean less liquor would be sold. That, in turn, would mean less revenue for the companies, which would then need fewer lobbyists, who would then have less grease to spread around the Capitol. As Mel Brooks said in Blazing Saddles, "Gentlemen, we have to protect our phony-baloney jobs here!"
Most entertaining about the pathetic attempt at expressing some sort of legislative oops were the "arguments" made against the original bill. Local House member Olivia Cajero Bedford said that there is something inherently unfair in the bill because she, being a petite woman, might be able to get drunk after only two drinks. I'm sorry, but for people who want to get drunk, that seems like a pretty good deal to me. Lose your inhibitions, but not all your money.
Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, arguing for the repeal, cited a study that claimed that interlocks don't prevent recidivism or accidents for those convicted of the lower-level DUI. I don't have the official House record, but I wonder if he thanked the folks at Seagram's for that report.
There was also the claim that only 8 percent of all DUI offenders are likely to re-offend. Yes, that's been my experience in life: 11 of every 12 people I know who get popped for DUI never drink and drive again. I don't know which is more dangerous: Statistics being (mis)used by an amateur, or by a professional with a twisted agenda. If (and that's a big "if") that stat is true, it reflects more on the small number of law-enforcement personnel, the way they're deployed and the priorities they're given.
Another argument: What about those who can't afford the interlock devices? Well, they weren't too broke to drink themselves stupid. Can't afford it? Ride the bus, and think about getting drunk.
There was even the suggestion that taking Communion wine in church would set off the alarm. Yeah, that's a real concern. If a sip of Communion wine is going to get you drunk, you're probably thinner than the Host wafer that went along with the wine.
The state's hospitality industry (I'm not sure whether that includes hookers) chimed in, saying that the law might reflect badly on the state. Apparently, if word gets out that Arizona is tough on drunk drivers, the NFL might not consider us for its big game. That makes sense: Hundreds of people get slaughtered on the highways and, in exchange, Arizona gets to host the Super Bowl once in a while. Who wouldn't gladly give up their life so that Glendale can have more game?
Another genius also mentioned that if we were considered a "dry" state, the NBA might not look at us for sporting events. We already have an NBA team that goes to the playoffs every year, so all they could be talking about is the All-Star Game. That game is rotated around the league, and since there are 30 teams, it won't be in Phoenix all that often.
Plus, this year's NBA All-Star Game wasn't in an NBA city at all. It was in Las Vegas, where crime skyrocketed over the NBA weekend, and an NFL player was involved in a shooting (for which he is now facing two felony counts) that left a man paralyzed. Yeah, we want that action here.
Heck, I'll help the hospitality industry with their ad campaign: "Send us your drunks, your thugs, your first-time DUI offenders. We have no shame, but lots of hotel rooms."
Why don't we just let this law go into effect for a couple of years and then revisit it to see if there were any unintended, harmful consequences? Then, those legislators who want it repealed could run for re-election with the slogan, "Vote for me, because I think we're way too tough on drunk drivers."