New York State would make it a felony to drive while intoxicated with a child in the vehicle and would require first-time convicted drunken drivers to buy a device that prevents them from driving their cars if they have been drinking, under a bill passed by the State Assembly on Tuesday.
Even libertarians agree that DUI laws make sense. I fear, however, that these particular enhancements to New York's laws are driven mainly by emotion:
The push for harsher drunken-driving penalties follows two recent crashes in New York in which children were killed while traveling with adults who had been drinking.
My guess is that the felony charge will often be bargained down, or police will let violators off with a warning because the felony charge seems excessive.
The provision for locking devices may again have little impact in practice, as those affected disable them, or use other cars.
I do not have an obviously better alternative to offer, but I am not convinced these enhancements to the DUI laws will change much.