[FOUNTAIN]Drunken policiesAccording to a posting on a Web site in the United States, an undercover police officer was hiding in the parking lot of a bar, waiting to arrest drunken drivers. Soon a young man staggers past and gets into his car. The man, sitting in the driver’s seat, yells and makes noises. The undercover policeman pulls out a breathalyzer and waits. He mentally calculates what the driver’s blood alcohol measurement would be. Maybe 0.12 percent, judging by the staggering? Perhaps even 0.15 percent because of all the noise he is making? The policeman settles back in his hiding place and waits for the man to start up his car.
Meanwhile, other bar patrons are walking (or staggering) out of the place and disappearing. After the parking lot has emptied, the man in the car turns on the ignition and the policeman swoops down on him to tell him to blow into his machine. To the policeman’s surprise, the breathalyzer said the driver was cold sober.
“You’ll have to come with me to the station,” the policeman said. “This machine is broken.”
“I doubt it,” said the driver. “Tonight, I was the designated decoy.”
There are three ways police check for drunk drivers. The first is a driver’s appearance and behavior. The second is random traffic stops or checkpoints to scrutinize drivers passing by. Most developed countries do not use this method because it tends to treat all drivers as suspected criminals. The third method is to use sensors buried in the roadway to measure drivers’ reaction times when braking is required.
The Korean police announced that they would target suspected drunken drivers instead of using random checks as they do now. The police agency distributed to local stations U.S. guidelines developed by behavioral scientists that suggest when a driver has had too much to drink. Some criticize the change, saying drunk driving will increase, but the decision, I think, is a good one.
Government policies and officials are sometimes compared to drivers.
An opposition Assembly member compared the Kim Dae-jung administration to a drunken driver because its policies were not consistent. “The Chun Doo-hwan government could be pictured as a reckless driver while the Roh Tae-woo administration was a student driver. Kim Young-sam was an unlicensed driver,” he continued.
The most dangerous situation, however, is a student driver who is reckless and drunk.
by Lee Kyu-youn
The writer is a deputy crime news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.