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Can Interlock Systems Prevent Purchase of Alcoholic Beverages

In: Social Issues

Submitted By Azszani
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Pages 17
Is Requiring Ignition Interlock Licenses to indicate that the Purchase of Alcoholic Beverages is Prohibited Effective?

April 20, 2013

Abstract
In many states of the United States of America, selling alcohol has a number of state legislature-enacted restrictions. One such restriction is the sale of alcohol to certain persons who are found guilty of having committed third class felonies that are related to breach of a court order that is against driving under the influence alcohol that is intoxicated above certain limits. The circumstance leading to prohibition of driving automobiles without an ignition interlock devices arises from the first conviction of causing accidents that result in personal injuries for reasons accruing from alcohol intoxication. The penalties for causing accidents due to influence of over consumption of alcohol are valid from state to state. For instance, in the Tucson area, once convicted and found guilty for driving while under the influence (DUI) and/or while intoxicated (DWI), people find themselves susceptible to incredibly serious penalties. Such penalties range from a mandatory jail term, suspension of one’s driving license, and a force under court order to install an ignition interlock device in all cars driven by the convict among other penalties (Ministry of Transportation, 2013). Upon subsequent offenses, in many states, the felony offender is limited from accessing alcohol products from retailers or the retailers’ employees under the provisions of the new NM House Bill 87 (2013). The bill will be discussed further based on its provisions, one of which is the need for an ignition interlock license that prevent any driver from driving if he or she is under the influence of alcohol.

Is Requiring Ignition Interlock Licenses to indicate that the Purchase of Alcoholic Beverages is Prohibited Effective?
It is an offense to sell alcoholic beverages to persons having cards indicating that the law forbids such persons from buying alcoholic beverage products. While such prohibition is vital for helping to reduce incidences in which people driving under the influence of alcohol pose serious risks to lives of other road users within the United States, such laws attract harsh criticisms while the paradigms of universal human rights are put into perspective. As part of legal defense against persons for having purchase alcoholic beverages while they are restricted from doing so, it is likely that the concept of human rights may create strong grounds to compel the jury to reduce the degree of penalty that is likely to be imposed on felony offenders. This paper argues that the new NM House Bill 87 (2013) is ineffective. Essentially, the bill relates to alcoholic beverage sales, prohibiting certain retail sales, requiring ignition interlock licenses, certain identification cards to indicate that the purchase of alcoholic beverages is prohibited, and providing penalties and reconciling multiple amendments to the same section of law in version 2007 of the bill. Before proceeding to discussion of the likely legal defenses to justify the central argument of the paper, the discussion of the bill is considered first.
The new NM House Bill 87 (2013)
The new NM House Bill 87 (2013) seeks to reduce incidences of people driving while they are alcohol intoxicated, particularly for the second time offenders who have been already restricted not to drive without having their vehicle interlock devices in place. The bill defines an ignition interlock device as any device, which is approved by traffic safety bureau, to function to prevent a motor vehicles from operating when a person intoxicated with alcohol attempts to drive it (Egolf, 2013, p.6).
An Ignition Interlock Device:
These type of devices measure alcohol concentration levels in the blood of the drivers, whose vehicles are required by law to be fitted with such devices upon blowing air into the activating component of the device. According to Spencer (2013), the ignition interlock device is normally preset so that some extra breath taking is required after driving for some time interval” (Para.3). After the extra testing, in case the results give an indication of higher Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) values exceeding the maximum permissible level programmed in the device, a warning alarm is given before the vehicle eventually shuts down. As part of the traffic rules in the state of New Mexico, calibration of the device is mandatory after the elapsing of a specified amount of time typically one month or even more. The ignition interlock device stores all the information pertaining to the driver’s alcohol concentration levels at any time in which he or she has ever driven his or her vehicle while intoxicated with alcohol. The information is normally accessible from the device during the calibration exercise to be handed over to the responsible authorities. From the analysis of the downloaded data, if the drivers on probation are found to have violated the legal requirements imposed on them during the first conviction, they risk serving additional time of incarceration.
Although the above legal stipulations are found essential in the state of New Mexico’s traffic laws in helping to reduce accidents caused due to human error, resulting from alcohol toxicities, they are not adequate in helping to compel people to shun from driving while intoxicated with alcohol. On April 17, 2013, Brian Watchman was arrested on his seventh DUI (Boatel, 2013). Watchman’s sixth DUI was in December 2008, which he was sentenced to eighteen months mandatory prison time. Watchman’s sentencing included mandatory penalties: “obtain an interlock license for life; have an interlock device installed on all vehicles driven by the offender for life; complete alcohol or drug abuse screening and court approved treatment; while on probation or parole, mandatory substance abuse counseling and treatment” (New Mexico Case Look-up). The mandatory penalties requiring Watchman to install an interlock device on all vehicles driven by the offender and required interlock license did not deter Watchman from purchasing alcohol or fulfilling his mandatory requirements.
It is for this purpose that the new NM House Bill 87 (2013) introduces another legal obligation requiring that workers of the retailers or even retailers themselves not to allow persons having an ignition interlock license or even an identification card showing that they are prohibited from buying alcohol are forbidden to purchase alcoholic beverages from them (Egolf, 2013, p.3). For alcohol beverages retailers or the retailers’ employees need to know that the persons seeking to purchase alcohol beverage from them have been barred from purchasing alcohol beverages., The new NM House Bill 87 (2013) further requires the barred persons to be issued cards, which they must have on their person such that they are seen by everyone. In particular, the bill provides that persons who have their licenses revoked for driving under the influence of alcohol or for violating an implied consent to have identification cards in the form of a printed legend. They must display them in such a way that they are easily visible and read by all persons who might be inspecting their licenses to reveal information whether they have been prohibited to buy alcoholic beverages (Egolf, 2013, p.4). In the amended version of the 2007 edition of the bill as explicitly expressed in the 2013 side of the bill, it is a crime for persons who have been prohibited from driving without interlock ignition locks to purchase alcohol beverages.
Under the provisions of the act, revoking refers to the division, which is pursuant to section 66-5-29 or 66-8-111 NMSA 1978, which provides that, due to driving while intoxicated with alcohol, a person’s driving license has been terminated (Egolf, 2013, p.5). The proposed bill, which is scheduled to take effect as of July 1, 2013, also provides a number of exclusions in its application to matters involving evoking the driving licenses privileges of persons caught in breach of the law against driving under the influence of intoxicating substances. For instance, persons who are caught and found guilty for having committed homicide or great bodily harm by their vehicles relating to driving while intoxicated with alcohol, as stipulated in section 66-8-101 NMSA 1978, are prohibited from being issued an ignition interlock in section 66-5-503 NMSA 1978. Whereas, an individual is caught not having committed homicide or great bodily harm but posing a danger to the lives of other drivers or other members of the public, an ignition interlock is mandatory in section 66-8-102 NMSA 1978. The convicted person is required to take care of the costs of installation of the ignition interlock devices and/or facilitate its maintenance. In addition, the convicted person may also be restricted from purchasing alcoholic beverages as discussed before.
Legal redress against the new NM House Bill 87 (2013)
The new NM House Bill 87 (2013) is likely to attract immense legal challenges during its implementation. While some of its provisions are implementable, especially the ones advocating for revoking the license and giving a jail term penalty to offenders, some sections incredibly undermine the fundamental rights of the offenders. For instance, the provision that persons who have had their driver’s licenses revoked for driving under the influence of intoxicating drugs or liquor should have printed legends indicating that they are barred from purchasing alcohol would give rise to a number of legal issues.
Prohibiting certain people from accessing alcoholic products is an intervention put in place for equal protective concerns. However, some offenders in defense may come up with the counterargument that they are discriminated a lot in comparison to other people since it is impossible to prove in a court of law beyond any reasonable doubt that they were not purchasing alcohol for other people as gifts. In the realm of fundamental human rights, it is the right of any person within the United States to purchase any gift for anyone, if one wishes (Barr, 1999, p.275).
Defense Lawyers may argue that the restriction of the sale of alcoholic beverages to persons perceived as posing highest risks to other road users is an attempt to propagate the concept of dry state evidence advocated for by some in the United States such as Alabama and Alaska among others. In about every three counties within Alabama, two are dry counties, implying that they are prohibited from producing, distribution, and selling alcoholic beverages (Alcohol Problems and Solutions, 2013). In the context of the new NM House Bill 87, restriction to purchase alcohol is not advocated for in the faith of making the state of New Mexico dry in theory. However, in practice, it is likely that the state would become dry given the large number of people who drive while intoxicated with alcohol. Apart from infringing the rights of people to purchase products of all nature without restrictions, an attempt to make states dry has its own major drawbacks. For instance, borrowing from the example of Alabama and with regard to Alcohol Problems and Solutions (2013), carrying or even purchasing of shotguns coupled with rifles does not require any state licensing (Para.3). In fact, in Alabama, registration of guns is not a statutory state requirement. This argument implies that even little children in Alabama can carry guns freely. The dilemma that is established is whether alcohol is very dangerous in comparison to other equally dangerous situations such as possession of guns among small children. This inquiry is particularly challenging with the immense effort by authorities in the United States attempting to resolve the challenges of increasing incidents of malicious shooting of innocent people by persons who often end up committing suicide after killing several people. Now, it sounds reasonable to question whether road accidents relating to over consumption of alcohols are single most important causes of threats to the lives of people, which every state of the United States is constitutionally mandated to protect. What is the case for the protection of fundamental human rights, which include the freedom to consume products of one’s choice, which are freely sold in the market?
Conceptualization of the above issues indicates that the continued effort to limit the consumption of alcoholic products among people may end up making them consider alcohol as one of the most legally unacceptable products. The aftermath of this effort is making people consume the beverages in hiding places. In these hideouts, it is likely that such people would over consume the products in excess and increase the likelihoods of causing fatal accidents while driving under influence of alcohol. Whether under court order not to drive while intoxicated with alcohol or not, once a person causes an accident articulated to driving under intoxication of alcoholic beverages, the facts of the matter before the jury determining such a case remain that lives were lost because of uncontrolled drinking habits of the accused. In fact, the most important issue is not preventing people from drinking alcohol. What is not legally acceptable is the implication of driving while under the influence of alcohol. What is wrong with people purchasing alcohol for other people if those who purchase alcohol beverages do not drink the alcohol beverages themselves?
Bearing in mind the legal implications of the above argument, in legal proceedings, the legal defense team against lawsuits raised against persons buying or selling alcoholic beverages to persons who have been barred from consuming such products would require a proof that the products purchased by the accused were indeed meant to be consumed by him or her. If the proof is found to hold inadequate grounds to convict the accused against a third degree felony crime, then, it is perhaps inappropriate for a court of law to convict the persons accused of buying alcoholic beverages.
The applicability and effectiveness of the new NM House Bill 87 in helping to curtail incidences of people driving while under the influence of alcoholic intoxications is worth noting. For example, it is important to consider that people who are limited from buying such products from legally licensed dealers may end up seeking to buy alcoholic beverages from persons who are not authorized to sell liquor (bootleggers). Apart from exposing such persons to health risks, unauthorized liquor dealers may not care to know whether their customers are operating under a court order to never operate their vehicles without an ignition interlock devices or not. Friends, family members and person wanting to benefit monetarily, could easily be persuaded to purchase alcoholic beverages for the offender. In the measure to prevent persons ever convicted for felonies related to causing injury to persons arising from acts of driving under the influence of intoxication, limiting alcoholic beverage purchases from dealers and selling them to drivers shifts the duty of care while operating a motor vehicle from the driver to the alcoholic beverage dealer. “Negligence is best understood as conduct that falls below the standard of care deemed by the law as necessary to protect other from unreasonable risks of harm” (Burnham, 2011).
Under the conveying legal approaches to the duty of care while driving, any person operating motor vehicle owes a duty of care to other persons driving on the same road or pedestrians. The responsibility of any driver is to drive in such a manner that does not open his or her fellow drivers or pedestrians to any danger (Thornton, 2007). Arguably, it is the duty of a driver to understand in the most reasonable manner that his or her manner of driving may cause threats to the life of another party. This case implies that, for conviction, the accused must be proved aware that his or her driving acts could have caused harm to another party. One of the ways of confirming this case is by proving that the driver causing a personal injury was under the influence of any toxic drug and/or beverage, which while consumed beyond certain levels could impair the judging ability of the accused. NMSA 1978 guidelines for determination of impairment is found as Driving with a blood or breath alcohol level of .08 or higher, or .04 or higher when driving a commercial vehicle. §66-8-102(C). In addition, the amount of alcohol in the person's system may be considered with other competent evidence in determining whether the person was impaired or under the influence of intoxicating liquor. §66-8-110(B)(2)(b).
The new NM House Bill 87 (2013) may aid in helping to permanently prevent people from driving under the influence of alcohol by virtue of the fact that they would have no place to buy liquor. However, arguably, regulation of liquor establishments, grocery stores, and liquor stores could give rise to other vendors who could sell to offenders. This challenge poses questions of who will be responsible for oversight of the sellers of alcohol and who will train employees of the establishments not to sell alcohol to people bearing cards printed ‘not allowed to purchase alcohol’. Therefore, it infers that the duty of care that a driver owes to his fellow drivers and pedestrians shifts from the driver who supposedly would cause an accident while intoxicated, to the liquor seller and his or her employees.
The arguments raised indicate that introduction and enforcing of the new NM House Bill 87 (2013) would completely alter the legal approaches to duty of care in matters of road accidents. The changes can attract much opposition since they are inappropriate for sellers to assume the duty of care for reckless acts of a driver who should have known that overconsumption of alcohol may interfere with his or her judgment abilities and hence cause dangers to lives of those persons that he or she should care about while driving. A major legal challenge to the bill would entail making a determination whether it is the responsibility of a person under court order restriction from purchasing alcoholic beverage to know that overconsumption of alcoholic beverage would deprive him or her of some senses. For instance, he or she can be incapable of making good judgments. Is it the duty of an alcoholic beverages dealer to refrain from selling the liquor to such persons on accounts that if he or she does so, the driver would drink and cause accidents? In this end, there arise crucial questions necessary for determination in any legal suit relating to breach of the order ‘not allowed to purchase alcoholic beverages’ among persons under a court order not to drive without an ignition interlock. To what extent should an alcoholic beverage seller and the seller’s employees foresee that selling alcohol to persons carrying legendary cards printed ‘not allowed to purchase alcohol’, irrespective of whether they are purchasing products for their own consumption or gifts to other persons not engaged in the purchasing process, would alleviate the purchaser’s capacity to cause accidents?
Many businesses are established to make profits as the main tool for ensuring continued presence in the future. Driven by profit making intentions, it implies that an organization would seek as many customers as possible. In a capitalistic business environment, the new NM House Bill 87 may lack compliance of good will because it is unsure, when a dealer would turn away a potential customer simply because he or she bears a tag’ not allowed to purchase alcohol’. Although sellers may be aware of the legal consequences for selling alcohol to such persons, the probabilities for the sellers turning away people not drunk, particularly if they cite reasons such as purchasing alcoholic products as gifts, is minimal.
One way of dealing with problems of fake identities is by conducting a thorough scrutiny of all clients seeking to purchase alcoholic beverages from a given dealer before the actual selling transaction is completed (Burton & Baird, 2001, p.57). Unfortunately, more often than not, sellers face an influx of customers particularly during rush hours. This situation makes it practically impossible to dig out details of every customer before selling alcoholic beverages so that identifying whether a customer is under any court order restricting him or her from buying alcoholic beverages would consume a lot of time hence victimizing and discriminating against individuals (profiling). When a person-to-person scrutiny is not practically possible, the alternative is to examine a random sample of customers to determine the probability of selling alcohol to persons not allowed to purchase alcohol by law via a court order. However, this approach is invalid since the law requires scrutiny of all customers always. In this sense, new NM House Bill 87 would make business almost impossible for liquor outlets dealing with large numbers of customers. This case is possible especially when persons who are not permitted to purchase alcoholic beverages fail to display the printed identification card (ID) with “prohibited from purchasing alcohol” as required by the new NM House Bill 87 (2013) or when such persons attempt and successfully manage to use fake IDs.
Conclusion
Many nations identify intoxication with alcohol as a major cause of accidents leading to personal injuries and fatalities through road accidents. It is the duty of all governments to protect the fundamental rights of life for all citizens. Consequently, as argued in the paper, many nations have established various traffic laws to restrict people from driving while under the influence of any intoxicating drug including alcohol. In the United States of America, these laws are enforced through legal provisions declaring some areas within various states as dry areas. This argument means that selling of alcohol is not permitted in such areas. In the state of New Mexico, acts have been established through the state’s legislature seeking to curtail incidences of accidents resulting from reckless driving because of the undue effects of alcohol on the judging abilities of the drivers. The NM House Bill 87 provides that persons who are under a court order not to drive without an interlock license and be prohibited from purchasing alcoholic beverages. The paper maintained that this bill is an ineffective way of prohibiting the sale of alcohol to persons not allowed to drive without an ignition interlock devices for a number of reasons including the legal defense that people could be buying the products as gifts to other people meaning that their rights impaired by restricting their buying capacities.
Unfortunately, I know of families that lost love ones resulting from individuals driving while intoxicated and felt their grief. I also stand on the other side of the road because my children made bad judgment decision to drink and drive. Persons addicted to alcohol will find any measures to procure alcohol regardless of probation or laws. Roadblock of obstacles such as NM House Bill 87 (2013) can decelerate the train. My views and understanding of implementing stronger and tougher DWI laws is a necessity to protect the people. The citizens of the State of New Mexico must continuously enact laws to send the message DWI/DUIs is unacceptable. Laws must not abridge any constitutional rights or impede on the rights of freedom and prosperity. There will never exist the perfect law that will address all our problems, but we can enact laws as our duty of care to protect our citizens.

Reference List
Alcohol Problems and Solutions. (2013). Alcohol and Drinking Facts in States Across the U.S. Retrieved from http://www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/FunFacts/FactsByState.html

Arizona Department of Transportation. (2012). Ignition Interlock. Arizona: Arizona Press.

Barr, A. (1999). Drink: A Social History of America. New York: Carroll & Graf.

Boatel, R. (2013, April 18). Man arrested on suspicion of 7th DWI. Farmington, New Mexico: Farmington Daily Times. Retrieved April 20, 2013, from http://farmingtondailytimes.nm.newsmemory.com/
Burnham, W. (2011). Introduction of the Law and Legal System of the United States. St. Paul: West, Thomas Reuters.
Burton, G., & Baird, J. (2001). Liquor a contentious, complicated cocktail in Utah politics. New York: Associated Press.

Egolf, B. (2013). State of New Mexico: house bill 87. Retrieved from http://www.nmlegis.gov/Sessions/13%20Regular/bills/house/HB0087.pdf HB0097. (2013). Retrieved April 22, 2013, from New Mexico Legislature: http://www.nmlegis.gov/Sessions/13%20Regular/bills/house/HB0097.html
HB0087. (2013). Retrieved April 22, 2013, from New Mexico Legislature: http://www.nmlegis.gov/Sessions/13%20Regular/bills/house/HB0097.html
Ministry of Transportation. (2013). Impaired Driving: Ignition Interlock Program. Ontario:
Queen’s Printer.

NM Courts. (n.d.). New Mexico Case Look-up. New Mexico. Retrieved April 20, 2013, from http://caselookup.nmcourts.gov/caselookup/app?component=cnLink&page=SearchResults&service=direct&session=T&sp=SM-147-IR-201300020
Spencer, K. (2013). What is an Ignition Interlock Device? Retrieved from http://www.orlandocriminalteam.com/blog/what-is-an-ignition-interlock-device/
Thornton, M. (2007). The Economics of Prohibition. Salt Lake City: University of Utah
Press.

Valdez, G. S. (2010). New Mexico DWI law. Retrieved April 20, 2013, from New Mexico DWI Law Penalties: www.newmexicodwilaw.com/penalties.htm…...

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