RFD Archive

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This thread will contain an archive of my RFDs.  
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--> @fauxlaw @FourTrouble

Resolution: Drunk driving should be legal.

PRO correctly states the BOPs in the intro:

This is a normative topic, so burdens of persuasion are equal on both sides. Starting points are equal. Pro must show that drunk driving should be legal. Con must show the opposite.

PRO argues essentially that: (1) DUI laws don't serve any interest of our criminal justice system, because (a) they lack a legitimate retributive purpose, (b) do not deter drunk driving, (c) are over- and under-inclusive and (d) aren't necessary; while contending that (2) regulation mitigates harms better, and proposing that "an additional licensing test for drunk driving" be implemented that would "mitigate a number of problems" such as actually deterring "bad drivers, which is the relevant group that we want to deter" as distinct from merely drunk drivers and  would more efficiently allocate resources ("police could go back to focusing on reckless drivers rather than drunk ones"). 

CON, on the other hand, contends that: (1) PRO simply "assumes that criminal law serves but one purpose: retribution, or punitive justice. Criminal law actually serves three public, or social purposes:  punitive, curative and preventive."  (Note: I removed the Oxford comma from that quote because it irritates me.  I will not, however, deduct points from CON based on his Oxford comma usage, for reasons I can discuss if the debaters are interested.) Further, CON argues that: (2) society is protected by DUI laws because DUI laws deter drunk driving (this is the most charitable and least incoherent rendering of the point CON struggled to make).     

  • Criminal Justice System Interests
    • Purposes
      • PRO's heading states only that DUI laws don't serve a retributive purpose. 
        • Though he is actually arguing that they don't serve a legitimate retributive purpose, wherein such legitimate retributive purposes would focus only on punishing those who in fact deserve to be published (such as the examples he cites, including rapists, murderers, thieves and sex offenders) unlike those who simply drink alcohol and drive, who are undeserving. 
        • CON's argument does not address the body of PRO's legitimate retributive purpose argument; focusing only on the heading which, as I noted above, doesn't jive with the actual argument he made. 
        • PRO was actually arguing, as per the body of his point, that DUI laws don't serve a legitimate retributive purpose (see above), not that they don't serve any retributive purpose.   So even if I agree with CON, that DUI laws some at least one retributive purpose (and I do), that isn't rebutting the legitimacy point. 
        • And again, I agree with CON that DUI laws in fact DO serve a retributive purpose; though that's where CON's argument on this subject ends.  He provides no substantive rebuttal to the body of PRO's argument relative to the retributive purpose's legitimacy.  CON does not, for example, provide an example of why DUI laws' retributive purposes are legitimate, explain their utility and the like. 
      • PRO argues that DUI laws don't deter (a point better started in his R2), aren't necessary and are over/under-inclusive.  CON says they do deter, are necessary; even if over/under-inclusive.  
        • PRO makes the point that cops can only identify drunk drivers if they were bad drivers first.  Which is obvious.  PRO suggests that "there's no evidence that adding multiple layers of criminal prohibitions leads to greater deterrence."  Even according to CON's own source, PRO observes that "DUI laws fail to prevent over 10,000 traffic fatalities related to drunk driving each year."  By R3, CON counters that "estimated effects suggest that having BAC above either [limit for] DUI or aggravated DUI threshold reduces recidivism," thus deterring; and "Prior to 2000, when .08 BAC was established nationwide, the annual traffic fatalities due to DUI was in the mid-to-high 30,000s."
        • Even still, "As [PRO] explained in R1, DUI laws don't deter because (a) drunks misjudge their BAC, and (b) police officers can’t distinguish between sober & drunk drivers until after-the-fact. Con never disputes these underlying facts." 
        • The R1  distinction CON endeavors to draw between "curative" and "preventative" purposes is incomprehensible.  CON argues that "curative" means "the court system of justice to resolve criminal cases" and "preventative" means "to deter criminal action by defining expected social behavior."  
        • If I am being more charitable than I should --- which is what I'm doing here ---  I guess CON meant that the former is an enforcement mechanism and the latter comprises those expected social norms to be enforces.  But even still, that's not precisely what CON said.   CON is trying to talk about two aspects of forward-looking justifications for laws, generally: deterrence: the rules and the means to enforce those rules.  Though he doesn't actually state that; instead he calls this "jurisdictional justice."  He means deterrence.  Whatever.  
        • CON lists effects of consuming alcohol and suggests these impair driving ability.  CON lists statistics relevant to drunk driving.  These, according to CON, necessitate DUI laws.  Yet, these are not "evidence that adding multiple layers of criminal prohibitions leads to greater deterrence," (see PRO R1).  The issue, says PRO,  "isn't drinking, but rather unsafe driving caused by a significant degree of impairment."  As PRO clarifies in R2, "CON fails to distinguish different levels of drunkenness/impairment. DUI laws currently prohibit driving with a BAC of .08, but some people can't drive safely at a BAC of .03, while others drive safely with significantly higher BACs. As I explained in R1, DUI laws are under- and over- inclusive."
        • But that doesn't matter because, as per PRO's R2-R3, "DUI laws don’t deter dangerous driving because drunks misjudge BAC, and law enforcement can't distinguish sober & drunk drivers." 
      • PRO wins this point.
    • Drunk Driving License
      • PRO proposes a drunk driving license, which CON says is absurd because it "ignores that a driving test encounters drivers of variable skills, yet applies a single standard of acceptable driving skill. It also ignores that a DUI test would have variable thresholds of acceptance, i.e., multiple standards. It is simply illogical and impractical to eliminate a common standard in favor of imposing a standard for one, another standard for another, and so on, when a universal standard can by applied: if you drink alcohol, of any amount, do not drive."  In R2, CON further adds that "Driving ability is diminished by just .02% BAC. Regardless of not being legally drunk, the driver’s diminished condition may affect his ability to avoid an accident just by failure to drive defensively with due caution, such as the above suggestion: If you drink, don’t drive, which is a necessary driving caution even for fully unaffected drivers of any debilitating condition."
      • PRO rebuts in R2, "A drunk-driving licensure test could help identify unsafe drivers & alcoholics before-the-fact. It would also deter reckless driving by providing would-be drinkers with individualized feedback about their drunk-driving skills. As a result, people who fail the licensure test would know they aren't capable of driving when they drink. This results in better education about the risks of drunk driving, leading to broader & greater deterrent effects than DUI laws."
      • PRO notes in R3 that "Con misunderstands how a drunk-driving license would work. It's a specialized license, like the ones people get for trucking or transporting hazardous materials. It doesn't apply different standards to different people -- the safety standard is the same for all drunk drivers, just as the standard for truckers is the same for all truckers."
      • I am unconvinced either side won this. 
PRO wins all points other than the drunk driving license, based on the fact that he demonstrated that DUI laws lack any legitimate retributive purpose (i.e., drunk drivers don't deserve punishment); DUI laws don't deter, and the distinctions make no difference in the outcome (or if they do, CON has not established a causal nexus between those distinctions and the societal benefits he alludes to); and DUI laws are unnecessary b/c they overlap with other driving laws, such as reckless driving.  Drunk driving license point is won by neither side.  There are too many problems in such a test's potential application, as noted by CON.  But, this point was mostly superfluous/tangential to the resolution anyway.  Even if CON won this issue, PRO still wins the debate overall.

The formatting was incredibly irritating in this debate.  Particularly from CON.