They say no good deed goes unpunished.
Not long ago a Phoenix man saw that his girlfriend was about to get in her car and drive while drunk. He did the right thing, and pulled the keys out of the ignition.
Her response was to grab a crowbar and hit him in the head.
It did not end well, as you can imagine. The driver, a Ms. Christine Burley, was charged with aggravated assault. Had her boyfriend let her go, she might have ended up with a drunk driving charge. Either way, she was headed for trouble.
But the point isn’t the crowbar: it’s what the situation teaches us. A person under the influence of alcohol can be irrational, aggressive, and impulsive. Drinking disrupts a person’s ability to see the consequences of their own behavior. Drunk driving is a prime example: a drunk person behind the wheel doesn’t see that his or her cloudy vision, swimming head, drowsiness, or inability to concentrate will have consequences that could be deadly on the road.
Another thought: a person who takes a crowbar to someone who wants to help them stay safe is not likely to be deterred by a revoked license either. That is why the standard punishment for DUI, license suspension, doesn’t work in so many cases. A person under the influence must rely on outside help to make the right decisions. A concerned boyfriend did the job in this case.
A safer alternative is an ignition interlock – a car breathalyzer that prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking – is one measure that will work. Arizona requires that all drunk drivers – even first DUI offenders – install an ignition interlock for a period. The device allows them to manage their life as before, but without the ability to start their vehicles if they’re drunk.
It’s not clear if an ignition interlock will be involved in this case. It’s probably a good idea, because if the offender in question wants to drink and drive again, there would be no need for an innocent person to intervene, and risk a crowbar to the head.