A response to That Guy T’s video on the legality of drunk driving

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That Guy T made a video explaining his position on the legality of drunk driving, which is a topic that is sure to stir up plenty of debate within the liberty movement.

A number of libertarians like to take a position that the non-aggression principle is axiomatic, so taking that logic through, they will hold a strict position that if there is no victim, there is no crime. As a general rule of thumb, I agree with the “no victim, no crime” sentiment, but anyone can come up with a number of situations demonstrating that this single idea is insufficient.

In a stateless society where the roads would be privately owned in one way or another, it is hard to imagine that a business would allow drunk driving on its roads. It is obviously more dangerous for the other drivers and it also hurts the profitability of the business. A higher rate of accidents means insurance premiums go up, traffic gets worse, and consumers lose confidence in the product. This does not suggest that simply making it a rule would prevent it from happening, but those who are caught would likely be banned from the roads (and that information would probably be shared with other road owners and insurance companies).

But we don’t yet live in a society like this, and even though the state’s control of the roads and driver’s licensing complicates it, we still do have to work within it. That Guy T feels that drunk driving should be illegal and I tend to agree. I don’t necessarily agree with the way it is handled today by the state, but that’s out of the scope of my point here.

I have a personal story related to this that I think helps strengthen That Guy T’s view. A few years ago, I was at a bachelor party for a good friend who was getting married soon. It was early in the afternoon and we were driving back from playing golf that morning. We had a few cars in our group and I was driving one of them. We noticed a car in front of us that was swerving in and out of lanes. He looked like he was an accident waiting to happen and I wanted to get away from him as soon as I could.

I waited until we were at a red light to slowly drive by him. When we looked into his car (which was a convertible, so it was easy to see him), he was so hammered I couldn’t believe he could keep his head up. Another driver got out of his car, stood next to him while we were all stopped at the light, and screamed at him to get off the road. The driver was so out of it that he didn’t even acknowledge the man.

At this point, everyone in the car and I agreed that we needed to do something. We called our friends in one of the other cars and told them what was going on. There were two lanes going in our direction (and fortunately a divider in the middle of the road), so we let the impaired driver go ahead of us while we blockaded the lanes behind him. We didn’t want someone unaware of the situation trying to pass him and get run into. My friend in the passenger’s seat then called the police to report the driver. We were asked to continue our pursuit while they dispatched a few cars to come to our location.

Two state trooper cars arrived and took over our very low speed chase. To further explain how out of it he was, they had to box him in with one car in front and the other behind in order to get him to pull over. When they got out of their cars to approach him, he took his foot off the brake and started to slowly roll forward again.

Am I a hypocrite for calling the police to handle this situation while simultaneously being against the very existence of a government police force? I had two other options. The first option was to say, “There’s no victim here, so I better just let him be. What he does to himself is none of my business!” I don’t think I would have been able to sleep that night if I chose to ignore him. He was a disaster waiting to happen with poor control of two tons of steel.

The other option would have been taking it upon ourselves to get him off the road without any involvement from the police. There were plenty of us there, so we could have done it if we chose. And I would have been willing to do it. What happens, though, after we get him to pull over and take his keys away? Do we imprison him until he sobers up? Do we find him too irresponsible to drive and not give him his car back? And what happens to us when he calls the police for kidnapping him?

I have no regrets over what I did. We live in an imperfect world and the existence of the state cuts away options making ethical decisions even harder. At the end of the day, however, I feel that I have the right to take someone off the road who is putting others in serious danger, so I can delegate that right to someone else. What would you have done in the same situation?

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Carlos
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I agree with your post. I don’t agree with the way the state enforces this. Sending a person to prison for a victimless crime seems to violate the non-aggression principle. The state could enforce this in other less aggressive ways such as driver’s license removal and/or maybe fines. One could argue that driving without license could lead to violence from the state; however, entering a private road when banned could also lead to legitimate violence from that road’s owner (if you refuse to stop driving), which would amount to be the same consequence. I don’t think the debate is whether… Read more »
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