He Drives Drunk Wrong Way Past Cop Car! License Revocation? Right.

license revocation does not workWrong-way drivers are never a good thing to see on the road. They’re more than a crash waiting to happen – they’re a crash about to happen.

Generally three factors cause wrong-way driving:

  • Bad signage. Poorly marked entrances on one-way turnoffs can send drivers the wrong way.
  • Age. Older drivers are over-represented in the number of motorists caught in a wrong-way driving offense.
  • Impairment. This is the principal factor. Police always check for intoxication when they stop a driver going in the wrong direction.

Factor number 3 was in play over Thanksgiving weekend in Riverside, California, when a man was stopped for driving west on an eastbound-only street. Fortunately, his route took him right past a police car.

As it turned out, driving the wrong way was just the most egregious of this driver’s violations.

  • He was drunk.
  • His license had been revoked.
  • He had an open bottle of cognac in the front seat.
  • He had two previous DUIs.

California does not take third DUIs lightly. Penalties could include forfeiture of the vehicle, four months in jail, and fines.

It will also include three years’ license revocation. However, if there is one thing that this case teaches us, it’s that license revocation is not an effective tool for taking hard-core repeat drunk drivers off the road. Vehicle confiscation might help, but the most effective course would probably be a sobriety court – heavily supervised counseling combined with an ignition interlock so that the offender cannot drink  and drive.

California’s governor has just signed SB 1046, which will require ignition interlocks for all DUI offenses. However, the bill will not take effect until 2019. Four California counties currently have all-offender interlock laws, but Riverside is not among them, which might be why the man in question could, with a revoked license, be caught buzzing by a police car, drunk on Remy Martin, doing the most dangerous possible action on the road: wrong-way driving.

If we want to make our roads safer, we first have to acknowledge that license revocation is the wrong way to go about it.