The Tyranny of Pre-Crime
Drunk Driving and ‘Pre-Crime’?
by Eric Peters
Pre-crime used to be a sci-fi literature concept. But it’s already our everyday reality. The fallout from the shooting in Tucson is going to make that very clear, very soon.
But first, consider “drunk” driving.
There was a time, long ago, when a driver had to actually cause an accident – or at least, do something tangible that gave evidence of actually impaired driving, such as weaving over the double yellow or limping along at suspiciously slow speed. This was the probable cause needed by a cop to pull the suspect over.
Then in the ’90s we got (courtesy of Clintigula) the criminalization of drinking – irrespective of our actual driving. The mere presence of trace amounts of alcohol in one’s blood became sufficient to arrest a person for “drunk” driving – even though all the person did was run afoul of a notoriously unreliable Breathalyzer machine.
It did not matter that people process alcohol differently; that some people are much better drivers even with a little booze in their systems than others are completely sober. And more besides.
Most people now equate having “x” amount of alcohol in your system – in ever-declining percentages – with “drunk driving.” It is an epic victory of demagoguery and propaganda.
And it is also by definition an example of pre-crime. You haven’t done anything – but you’re in trouble because of what you might do.