259 What determines if a crime was committed?


Tom Garrett 3 years, 7 months ago

In a recent case, which is a lot like the cases we talked about a few days ago on another string, the same kind of question needs to be asked.

Here it is, posed as well as I can pose it:

Sometimes something happens when someone is driving a car. The driver is doing something that people do all the time, perhaps something that I would think of as just plain dumb, but then people have a right to do what they want, don't they?

Other people are in the car voluntarily, and are voluntarily doing the same thing. In fact, the whole lot of them believe they are having a load of fun. That's why they are there. Nobody made them be there, and no one made them do what they are doing.

Then an accident occurs and some people are hurt, maybe even killed.

If the driver is sober he is rarely ever charged with anything. But if he is even slightly over the limit, even a whisker over it, he is suddenly charged with murder or manslaughter.

My question is: What about the fact that the person who was killed or inured chose to be where he was, and to be doing what he was doing? Doesn't that count for anything?

Okay, now, take the recent case where a 55 year old man voluntarily chose to sit in "open-top Jeep" at "night," and to go "four-wheeling" on a forest trail while that jeep was driven by someone who'd had "upwards of 20 beers that day."

Since the 55 year old who was killed had free choice, and deliberately chose to place himself in that open topped jeep, and chose to hazard himself on a trail while someone who was drunk drove that jeep, was he not therefore responsible for the choice that led to his death, rather than the man who was driving?

How does the other idiot, the driver, suddenly become responsible for the fact that the 55 year old chose to hazard himself?


Pat Randall 3 years, 7 months ago

I don't think alcohol should enter into it. Last I knew you have free choice of who you ride with. Except for the school kids that ride with a bus driver driving 85 MPH up the Beeline. The charges would be the same if the driver had only one beer.

There are many people I know who have never had a drink of alcohol in thier life and I won't get in a car with them driving. I have ridden with people after they had been drinking and was not worried at all.

Matter of choice. One of the few choices we have left.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 7 months ago


I agree with you entirely. All too often it isn't the laws themselves that are wrong, but the application of those laws.

I always look at it this way: If a person is truly guilty of--the usual charge is manslaughter--then the person was "slaughtered" should not have been a voluntary participant in what happened. Why? If he hadn't been voluntarily where he was, doing what he was doing, the incident could not possibly have occurred. True?

But what happens is that do-gooders who feel that people should not drink always look only at two things: What happened? And was the driver drunk?

Well suppose you're driving down the road drunk as a skunk, a deer runs across the road, and someone with you is killed? Who's guilty of what then.

And how about this? If someone who is drunk is stopped and there are two people in the car not wearing seat belts, then how come the driver is not charged with two counts of attempted manslaughter?

After all, if you are guilty of manslaughter if there's an accident, then why weren't you guilty of attempted manslaughter when an accident didn't--but certainly could have--occur?

The answer is because there was no manslaughter in the first place. People just get all high and mighty and want to punish people--anyone except themselves.

There's an, "Oh, someone's got to be guilty!" syndrome among some people that drives me nuts!

As for what you said about driving with someone who has had a few, I agree with you there too. And that's a matter of choice, isn't it? There's one person whose car I just will not get into. Lousiest driver on the planet.


John Lemon 3 years, 7 months ago

Tom, It seems that we ought to recall that " dumb is not a crime". Of course the passengers had freedom of choice and therefor contributed to the circumstances that may have caused them injury, but the written statutes do not hold that to be a crime. DUI is an applicable crime. Speaking from an ethical point, all who participated in the ride while being aware of the driver's consumption of alcohol and those who did not wear a seatbelt while riding are morally responsible for whatever may have happened to themselves (excepting the juvenile). Those who thought it was a good idea to ride under the circumstances described in the Roundup have an additional burden : the kind of decision that they made.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 7 months ago

"DUI is an applicable crime. "

As long as the person driving is charged ONLY with DUI (except for cases where riders were not legally old enough to consent to their situation) I agree. Otherwise, I don't. What happens in many cases is that the person is charged with homicide or manslaughter when he was only guilty of DUI, and juries being legally ignorant just go right ahead an convict him. In some cases the laws allow such a thing to happen, but if the accused had the money to take his case to higher courts the law would be declared unconstitutional. As always, the law only works for those who have the money to make it work.

"Those who thought it was a good idea to ride under the circumstances described in the Roundup have an additional burden : the kind of decision that they made."



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