When I was a hideous little child with no manners and not the dook of an idea how to comport myself in public, O my brothers, drinking and driving was naughty but not evil. Crashing into other people was evil no matter what you had in your bloodstream. Managing to get home plastered but undented and with no pedestrian hood ornament was, even so, frowned upon but not actually subject to a mandatory pummelling from the law. Now, it is.
I no longer have a car. I've had several, all battered bangers - and never drove drunk because I knew I was unsafe to drive under the influence. Incidentally, one of my big regrets in life is that my father once had a Ford Cortina Estate Mk II 1600E (Yes, E. Someone out there knows what that means) and he sold it long before I was old enough to drive. It was a beaut, and if I had it now I might even let it out of the garage once in a while. I've seen a MkII Cortina recently, and a Hillman Imp, and even an Austin Seven, all in top condition and they made me wish I'd kept my wedge-shaped Princess and looked after it. It would be too old to pay tax by now (do they still exempt old cars?) and it was repairable without recourse to computers.
Driving while not in proper control of the vehicle is dangerous. Operating any such machinery, cranes, diggers, tractors, etc. while not being properly able to control it is dangerous. That is unchallengeable. This week I was on a bus with a driver who I swear was either a) desperate for a pee, b) desperate for a smoke or c) practicing for the bobsled at the next winter Olympics. I was early at my destination which didn't really help because the bloke I was to meet was still in a meeting. I was, however, glad of the colon-settling properties of The Stuff. She (the driver) was in complete control at all times. Too well in control for those of a nervous disposition, but we were never in any danger. It was as safe as a fairground ride. I don't like those either.
If that driver had been under the influence of any form of reaction-slowing substance, I might have missed Smoky-Drinky and be typing this on my little Linux almost-palmtop from a hospital bed, using my remaining fingers and washing between every keystroke while trying not to inhale. She was not, fortunately.
Nowadays we have an arbitrary number, a one-size-fits-all limit on how much you can drink and still be in control of a vehicle. It is wrong. Not the number, the approach. In law, more than two beers (approximately) and you are subject to the same penalties as someone who has downed a bottle of whisky in one go.
I would not drive after two beers. I could be coherent after a bottle of whisky, but not in one go. However, I would not feel fully in control of the vehicle after two beers. When I had to drive home from somewhere, I drank no alcohol. My personal drink-drive limit is zero. So, why am I not joining the ranks of programmed drones in calling for zero? After all, I don't drive and when I did, I never drank, so why aren't I leading their charge?
It's because their charge is stupid.
The reason I don't drive has little to do with booze. I like drinking, yes, I don't like driving and I don't believe the two things are a good mix for me personally, so obviously I'll ditch the one I don't like. That was just a small part of it. I am not permanently drunk so could make use of a car. I don't like paying tax when I buy the car, I don't like paying duty and VAT on petrol (a tax on the tax), I don't like paying tax on insurance which goes up when someone else crashes, then road tax, MOT plus tax, repairs plus tax, tax tax tax. Tax on every aspect of the driving experience means that it is cheaper for me to use public transport. I only have to pay for it when I use it and when I get where I'm going, I don't have to park it. I am not 'lucky to live where public transport goes where I need to go'. That was by design. I sought a place to live where public transport worked how I wanted it to work. No luck involved.
Plus, if I have a ticket, I have a receipt that can be attributed to business use. I could never prove which parts of car use were business and which were not.
I am happy to pay the petrol costs when friends give me lifts, and I never disparage their choice to own cars. It's their choice. It's different to my choice but that is the nature of choice, and of personal circumstances. They are not the same for everyone.
Just like drinking. I could write a novel while continuously plastered. Others would have trouble finding the keyboard. I would not feel safe driving with any alcohol in me. Others are affected to different extents. Some could be over the 'limit' and safe. Others could be under the 'limit' and deadly. Some should not be driving even if they haven't so much as smelled a beer but that's a different rant.
'In control of the vehicle/machinery' is the critical aspect here. You might be stone cold sober but driving a Porsche Boxster when you've spent your driving career in Fiat Unos. Are you in control? It's perfectly legal. Nobody will raise the slightest objection. As long as you're sober and within the speed limit you can plough into a primary school playground and that's just an accident. Under the law, it's not what you do that counts. It's what condition you were in when you did it. Lose control of a performance car and as long as you're sober, you'll have no trouble.
This Labour idea of cutting the drink-drive limit in half, likely to be embraced by the Illiberal Torycrats aka New New Labour, will do nothing at all to improve road safety. It is not intended to.
Look at the bans so far. Drugs are illegal. Are there no more drugs? Handguns are illegal. Are there no more shootings with handguns? Carrying a knife is illegal. Are there no more stabbings? Why are these things not enforced harder?
Smoking in a public place is illegal and enforced as if it we were building atom bombs in the back rooms of pubs.
It is not complicated. Those who cause accidents while over the 'limit' are not slightly over. They are double, treble, four times over. They are completely gassed. They ignore the limit.
The criminals with guns had them illegally anyway. They did not hand them in. They bought more. Those who set out to stab someone, ignored the law saying they shouldn't carry knives. It was already illegal to stab or shoot someone, you know. So what changed?
All that changed was that the muggers and burglars knew for sure that their targets were not armed. Their confidence soared and they are now far more prepared to use their weapons, knowing that we don't have any. That is what the bans changed.
I've never owned a gun. In the past, anyone breaking into my home didn't know that for sure. Now they do. Has that improved my safety?
Those who drive well over the current limit will still do it over the new limit. So what is the point of this new law? Who is its target?
Have a glass of wine in the evening then set out to pick up your child from his friend's house. You're done. Go to a restaurant and have a meal with wine. You're done. Have a nice day out with a pub lunch somewhere quiet. You're done.
This new law is not intended to make the roads safer nor is it intended to reduce drink-driving. It cannot do that and those who designed it are well aware of this.
This new law is designed to collect revenue from you. Yes, you. Not me. You.
It makes no difference to me what the drink-drive limit is set to. Why would I care?
Well, if you're an antismoker, it is tempting to just sit back and watch you go through the same thing we smokers have experienced. I can't, because this is not revenge, this is progression.
It's a progressive agenda, you see. Smokers were not the end of that agenda. We were just an early item.
You're all on that agenda. Somewhere down the list, you're all there. Every one of you.
So, do you want the smokers to help? Not yet, I suspect. You're not ready. You still think you have nothing to hide and nothing to fear but you'll see. One day you will find the Thought Police have noticed you and you won't know what to do, nor where to hide. Then, perhaps, you will call out for help.
We smokers might still be prepared to listen at that point. Or we might not. It depends on how we're treated in the meantime.
That part is entirely up to you.