The Libertarian Case for Legalizing Drunk Driving

In contemplating the morality of laws criminalizing drunk driving, the free man is compelled to approach the regulation with skepticism despite the emotionally charged nature of the subject. The laws, as they are currently written, attribute the number .08 to be synonymous with drunkenness and therefore automatically disqualifying one from legally operating a motor vehicle. This number is based off of one’s blood-alcohol content, not the quality, or more specifically the actual danger to others present in the manner of driving. This substantial distinction changes the nature, by means of the results produced, of the law into that which a libertarian must resist.


Those reliant upon the state for their comfort of mind attempt to obfuscate the reality by vociferously reciting the intent of their prized ruling, and often ignore the results. The intent is obvious and known to all through the dutiful repetition of the believers: drunk driving kills. The logic supporting such a claim is far from sound, and is tantamount to the claims that mere gun ownership kills. It fails to realize the distinction between inherently threatening action, and that which is in the realm of bodily sovereignty.

The laws, as they are written, fail to criminalize actions that are inherently dangerous, but rather the chemical makeup of one’s blood. This is an arbitrary number applied to the 190 million Americans who are of legal drinking age. It’s as ludicrous to suggest that the 250lb man with the tolerance of a daily drinker is done justice by the .08 designation as it is to insinuate that the 110lb first time drinker is not driving under the influence at .06. This diversity, tangible to even a casual observer, cements the reality of the arbitrary and immoral nature of the law as it is currently reads. The veracity of this assertion has major implications in determining the morality of drunk driving regulation.

Laws that lock a person in a cage for participating in an action that does not directly threaten anyone is a law requiring reform or abolition. Designating individuals as drunk drivers and therefore a menace to be removed based off this arbitrary number is a perpetuation of prohibition, not a means of creating a safe environment for drivers. Despite the claims of the left, drunk driving is not equivalent to pointing your gun at someone. A violation of the Non-Aggression Principle is not limited in that it requires a victim of bodily harm. Threatening damage to one’s property or body is tantamount in this respect.


Unfortunately for those who support the current laws, having a blood-alcohol content of .08 is not an inherently threatening action. Its subjective nature resides in the dissimilar tolerances and other assorted attributes possessed by the 190 million legal adults. The distinction being articulated exists between drunk driving and reckless driving. Drunk driving, by its nature, does not inflict harm nor give genuine reason to believe that harm will be inflicted onto others. It is merely an attribute of an individual’s current state, not an action. Reckless driving is participating in actions that are reckless and therefore, by their nature, endangering others. Laws must criminalize actions that threaten others in order to be just, the chemical make-up of a person’s blood is not sufficient cause for stripping that person of liberties.

Laws should not be imposed based off of good intentions or malleable statistics. Instead, the existential truth of natural law demands it exist as the underpinning of any attempted regulations upon the actions of men. The collectivist seeks to create laws that will pose an ostensible gain for the greatest number of people within their borders. Free individuals reject this notion as demonstrating a perilous disregard for the nature of laws. Law does not exist to create comfort for the subjects of it but rather to enhance freedom. Yet freedom is not enhanced through the criminalization of drunk driving.

On the contrary, the opposite effect is realized. The religiously reliant perpetually demand further protections until the point is reached when the police detain and question everyone on a road. Realizing that drunken driving laws do not criminalize aggressive actions upon individuals necessitates the conclusion that all laws that seek to criminalize the bodily state of the individual at the time of detainment are aggressively immoral. In order to violate the Non-Aggression Principle, one must initiate aggressive action against another individual. On the public road, this can only be accomplished through means of either aggressive or reckless driving. Therefore all laws that penalize a driver’s state of being, as opposed to the reality of his actions, must be eliminated in favor of laws regulating reckless and aggressive driving.

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