Tolerance Happens Essay, Research Paper
Effective as of November 28, 1995, President Bill Clinton signed legislation that
forces states to adopt a ?Zero Tolerance Law?, to prevent teens as well as adults from
driving under the influence. To the youth of today, it doesn?t really matter if drinking is
illegal. No matter how much we spend on new laws, there will always be a way that the
younger generation will sneak past to continue drinking. The problem shouldn?t be
considered as who is drinking, but should be referred to as who isn?t drinking
responsibly. As in the words of Martin Luther King, ?Nothing in the world is more
dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.?
The spending of our hard earned tax dollars has become sort of an ?obsession? in
the government. In a June of 1995 radio address, President Clinton made a statement
after the signing of the new law saying, ?It is already against the law for young people to
consume alcohol. This national standard will reinforce by making it effectively illegal
for young people who have been drinking to drive an automobile?(?Clinton Takes,?
para. 3). Taking up billions of our tax dollars, in the past ten years lawmakers have
enacted over 2,000 new drunk driving laws and still can?t point to a decrease in the
property or life casualties related to drunk driving (Madder, para. 2). The Zero Tolerance
Law says that states not enforcing the law by Oct.1, 1998 will have 5% of their federal
highway subsidies withheld, and every year prior to that, will be withheld 10%. Tax
dollars are better spent while focusing on more important issues.
There are still no promises of a reduction in the loss of life or property as we
pack 1.4 million Americans in our jails each year (Madder, para. 3). Sharply on the
lookout for drunken drivers, police are letting more and more juveniles committing other
far worse crimes, slip through the cracks daily as we overcrowd our cells with DUI
offenders. More focus should be on criminals committing robberies, dealing crack,
executing homicides, and performing rape. Filtering through millions of Americans at
sobriety checkpoints is just a waste of valuable time. While police stop you to check
your car for an open container, you could be running late for an important appointment,
or worse, somebody might be looking through your house and taking off with your
The criminal justice system should rethink the zero tolerance law. Preventing
underage drinking is impossible as long as drinking is legal at some age. Raising the
tolerance level for the sake of responsible drinkers would prevent the courts from running
their current 1.4 million Americans through the criminal justice system. Doing this
would increase the availability of responsibly sober drivers at parties, and also make it
alot safer for social drinkers to drive home after a night out. Although younger people
aren?t supposed to drink at all, alot of college students like to go out to parties and have a
few drinks, and who?s supposed to stop them? The law considers people to be adults at
the age of 18, which suggests they can make responsible decisions. Responsibility in
knowing when you?re too drunk to drive or knowing when someone else is too drunk to
be driving is a valuable quality in a person, and every person that drinks and drives
should know his/her responsible limits.
In refutation, there are many irresponsible drivers that take their lives and the
lives of others. While this law may discourage the more responsible drinkers from
driving under the influence, many of the irresponsible alcoholics will still get behind the
wheel of their car only to endanger themselves and others. Many college students also
drink to the point of high intoxication, and may try to drive somewhere at the end of the
night. Without responsible decision making, though, one cannot grow to their fullest
With so many loopholes, the zero tolerance law should be completely revised to
suit the responsible social drinking driver as well as taking strict actions against the
disastrous drunk driver. Raising the tolerance level would clear up so much space in the
jails that the police would have room to put the more criminalistic minds behind bars.
People who know their responsible limits should be allowed to go out to a club and have
a couple of drinks and not worry about getting pulled over by the police. After all, a
responsible decision could mean the difference between life and death.
?Clinton Takes Hard Stand on Underage Drinking and Driving,?
NewsBriefs, Sept. 1995, pg.21
Madder– Motorists Against Drunk Driving Enforcement Rip-offs,
?Show Them the Statistics,? http://www.madder.org/page8.html