Protecting the Innocent

It is common practice for desigmated drivers and other abstainers under the age of 21 to be arrested and charged with illegal possession of alcohol when a party is raided.

This practice discourages designated drivers and, in so doing, unintntionallly promotes drunk driving and related tragedies that can result. The practice both violates individual rights and is counterproductive, a bad combination for public policy.

Now, a Montana state legislator, Jesse Leslovich, has proposed legislation to amend the state's underage drinking law to give non-drinking partygoers immunity when police arrest the drinkers. The bill wouldn't permit police to charge someone with underage possession just because that person is in the company of others who have been consuming alcohol.

"We should not be punishing those who are obeying the law," sais Laslovich. That seems reasonable, but not to some alcohol activists.

For example, one activist objected that the law would make it hard for police to prove who was drinking and who was not when a party is raided. His solution -- let's continue to define all of those present, including designated drivers, as guilty. That makes enforcement much easier.

Yes, ignoring guilt or innocence certainly would make law enforcement easier. In addition to making mere association with drinkers by young people a crime, alcohol activists heavily promote involuntary alcohol tests for young people, censorship of alcohol ads and similar jackboot actions. Our alcohol activists would find plenty of support from numerous dictators and tyrants, past and present. But who would want to live in such a police state? Unfortunately, no cost seems too high to many alcohol activists as they attempt to impose their alcohol-free utopia.


  • Young Lawmaker Wants to Change Underage Drinking Law. Helena, MT:
  • Associated Pres, Jan. 14, 2003.