DUIs vs. Illegal Immigration

Now that it turns out the driver accused of killing director Bob Clark in a Wednesday morning car crash was an illegal alien, the right wing media and anti-immigration crowd have decided to make that a more pressing talking point than the driver’s alleged intoxication.

While I couldn’t find numbers on the amount of people killed by illegal immigrants, I did learn that in 2005 there were 1719 Alcohol related deaths in the state of California alone, accounting for 40% of all traffic deaths (source: MADD). This doesn’t include people merely injured or left handicapped in such wrecks.

Instead of complaining about our law enforcement not rounding up the illegals and shipping them all back south, why not spend the energy developing harsher penalties that might curb drunk driving, such as a mandatory seizure and auction of any vehicle found being used by an intoxicated driver?

38 thoughts on “DUIs vs. Illegal Immigration”

  1. Why not? Because there’s no political gain from that and it doesn’t unite the base with racist rhetoric.

  2. Tougnening up the laws has been thwarted so many times from so many directions. I whole heartedly agree we need to impound the vehicles. The problem is so many people think of alcoholism is a disease and want to extend mercy to the poor alcoholic making the poor choice to remain a drunk. It would be nice to see similar sympathy extended to the family’s of those killed by the drunk drivers. I agree with Dave we need to spend time and money rounding up drunks but that won’t happen as their “rights” are very well protected.

  3. My car was hit & run in front of my house by 2 people who I assume were illegal.They ran from the scene (leaving their wrecked, crashed car running in the street), came back for the woman’s purse, were caught & detained by the police & were ultimately let go having :(1) No ID for either of them (2) No car registration(They claimed it wasn’t even their car !).(3) No Insurance .

    Nothing happened to them & I got to deal with 3 months of car repair & car rentals. My insurance company got to pay $10,000 in repairs &
    & car rental fees.

    The car they were driving was impounded, but since it wasn’t theirs, I’m sure they didn’t care.

    Just imagine if my 4 year old daughter had been in the car or if any pedestrians had been involved.

  4. If you don’t think illegals driving isn’t a problem, then you’re living in a dream land. A buddy of mine was rear ended by an illegal and my mother-in-law was sideswipped by an illegal in two separate accidents. In both cases, the illegal’s $500 car was totalled and they walked away scot free. Since illegals don’t have insurance or any ID, they get a free pass to go around tagging the rest of us with their cars.

    The cops response? “Sorry, you’re out of luck.”

    What did the illegal do? Probably went out and bought another $500 car.

  5. Get used to more of these kind of stories when undocumented peoples start taking even more chances on driving cars without documentation this July, after the MTA raises the Day Pass and the Monthly Pass by huge amounts.

  6. I knew Bob Clark. Such a genuinely nice guy. Cared a lot about his crew.

    This accident is the result of a thriving illegal culture. It isn’t a right/left issue. There have to be additional consequences for the fact that the driver was in the country illegally and driving without a license.

  7. Be careful of using MADD’s statistics. Their definition of “alcohol related” is not what you’d expect, and in many ways is unreasonably broad and designed to inflate their numbers.

  8. Uhhh I though the David’s commentary was on the problem of drunk driving not illegals , his last paragraph starts
    “Instead of complaining about our law enforcement not rounding up the illegals and shipping them all back south…..”

    I guess most people decided be malcontent with (if read?) that topic and move on the the ISSUE of illegals.

  9. i hate illegal aliens and their sense of entitlement.

    my brother works for an insurance company and loves it when illegals try to get compensation without having a license, or titles to cars. “but that’s important”, they say. um, yeah, it is.

  10. Brian: Illegals driving is a major problem, but its about priorities. The larger issue is drunk driving itself which, frankly, mainstream society accepts until someone they know is killed. It has a more serious impact on society that illegal immigration, yet what’s getting the headlines?

    Slug: I think illegal immigration is a minor offense compared to driving drunk to an extent that makes it almost moot. Kicking out illegals and toughening up laws against them won’t have an effect on the number of fatalities caused by drunk drivers.

    Joseph: Interesting angle, and you’re probably right, but I think that the increased fares will effect even legal citizens choice to ride as well.

  11. so true we need to impound (permanently) drunk driver’s vehicles, like they do in New York. Sending drunk drivers to AA meetings is not punishment, it’s a place for them to network, make new friends, or be entertained, especially in LA. I’ve heard that nobody even checks those court cards, anyone can sign them. Maybe alcohol class is more hardcore, but seriously, if people knew they risked losing their precious cars they’d be more likely to find a designated driver or call that pick-up service.

  12. evan, why so shocked? perhaps you can explain this behavior by illegals at a recent rally?

    The event’s organizers blamed the low turnout to the fear that “undocumented”” immigrants feel as a result of backlash and deportations. The thousands who made it didn’t seem one bit scared, however. They loudly demanded an end to deportations, accused a small group of nearby anti-illegal immigrant demonstrators as being racists and stomped and burned American flags as they chanted in Spanish. Loud Mariachi music played in the background.

  13. The linked story calls it a “critical fact” – the legal status of the DUI driver.


    As pointed out here, it comes down to the money, not to the moral or ethical issues involved with drunk driving. The examples here turn on folks who’ve been left to (very unfairly) foot the entire bill because they’ve been hit by or involved in accidents with drivers who aren’t here legally, AND don’t have insurance or other legitimizing papers.

    Being here illegally doesn’t make you less able to drive – it makes you less likely/able to be insured and therefore less likely to compensate the victim of an accident (whether the injury is to a person or to property).

    One’s immigration status here doesn’t make them more or less likely to drink before they get into a car. And there are plenty of US Citizens who drink before they drive and who drive uninsured.

    So what does that mean?

    They’re ALL WRONG – for lots of different reasons. But attributing the real damage of this action – the death of innocent people – to the immigration status of the other cars’ drivers does nothing to address the situation. It’s an irrelevant fact, not a critical one.

  14. I’d be the first to argue that the issue of DUI is one reason we need harsher penalties against people coming here illegally, but the more important issue that effects the safety and lives of more Americans is the one of drunk driving.

    Here’s an interesting personal fact: I went to high school in a largely upper middle class, predominantly white part of Connecticut, where Taco Bells and McDonalds are staffed almost entirely by non-minorities. 5% of my graduating class have been killed in alcohol related accidents – thats about 5 out of 100.

  15. I’ve been involved in both types of accidents: Illegal aliens, and drunk drivers. It was the drunk driver that nearly killed my husband. I would have much rather put up with three months of expensive car repairs than three months of life and death medical issues. Of course, that’s something that no one thinks of until they go through it. Infuriatingly, there seems to be a lot of reports of celebrities involved in DUI incidents recently, or maybe that’s my newfound sensitivity to the subject. Anyway, I don’t even care if the Mexicans come on in. I never did. I do care about people being senselessly killed or having their lives turned upside down by disability. That’s messed up.

  16. What part of “illegal” escapes you people? No one from another country is to take up residence in the US without going through the process that’s been established for decades. If that guy hadn’t been in the country he didn’t belong in, he wouldn’t have been flying along PCH drunk. And this particular American family wouldn’t be grieving.

  17. “You people?” Who do you MEAN exactly? Illegal immigrants of all races, colors and creeds? Or just Mexicans? Remember, illegal immigrants include Chinese, Eastern Europeans and even the Irish, among others.

  18. I think the person meant “you people” as “you people who are trying to separate illegal immigration from drunk driving” or “ability to recoup financial losses as opposed to debate on responsible alcohol consumption, etc.

    Though the ribbon of anti-Brown runs clear through most comments here, you’re right.

    Our broken immigration system isn’t to blame for drunk driving deaths. They are independent problems that happen to have intersected here. Both need to be addressed – and both need to be addressed more honestly than they are currently being addressed.

  19. This situation is a good argument for offering drivers’ licenses to every driver, regardless of status. To get a license, you need to take a test to demonstrate competence. There’s a probationary period, too. So, the process of getting a license forces people to learn the law.

    They could increase the burden to require people who do not speak English or are immigrants to do a day of additional instruction about cultural differences in driving. This would improve highway safety.

    The illegals would also learn something else: if you are DUI, and hit any object, and don’t leave a note, you’ve committed a felony. That can mean deportation, and no chance to ever get a green card. This drunk driver probably didn’t know this before he got loaded and drove.

  20. considering he’s here illegally, drives without a license, etc. i don’t think our laws really concern him anyway.

  21. There was no “anti-brown” in my comment. It was aimed at everyone. I’m completely pro-immigration — I’m staunchly anti-ILLEGAL immigration. To assume otheriwse or paint me or others who believe as I do as bigots is a gigantic load of crap. The drunk who killed those two could have been Canadian or British or Lithuanian or Mexican or Peruvian — it wouldn;t matter. If he hadn’t been here illegally, he wouldn’t have been flying down PCH drunk that night.

  22. As someone with daily contact with the criminal justice system, I can tell you that impounding and forfeiting vehicles has no effect. The vast majority of DUI defendants merely file an affidavit with the court swearing that they don’t own or have access to any vehicles and that’s as far as it goes. Then the minute they are out of jail, they hop right into a relative or friend’s car and do it again!

  23. The big problem is that speaking out against illegal immigration instantly brands you with the “racist” tag, and the ensuing backlash stains whatever merits the speaker once had. Denying that illegal immigration is having a negative effect on California in particular is so blindly idiotic and so historically short sighted. All you need to do is substitute “Rome” for “USA” and “barbarian” for “Mexican” and you can see how this is ultimately going to play out. Our social services in this country are incredibly important, but the system as it is set up simply cannot withstand the onslaught. We need a massive change in order to simply maintain what is already in place.

    All that being said, the burden needs to be placed on big business. They need to be held accountable for employing illegal immigrants, and CEOs need to take a pay cut so that a living wage can be paid to the American workers who will do those jobs if it allows them to support their families.

  24. JK: I’d argue that if you’re here illegally and caught DUI, whether or not you hit anything, you should be deported. Heartlessly and without prejudice.

    Tom: You’re right, but this is because our laws are barely enforced. Still, I think the greater offense is DUI because its the one that kills people, but most people would choose to concentrate on his immigration status.

    Lee: Being against illegal immigration doesn’t make you a bigot, but that you get more fired up about the immigration debate but not DUI, and the probability that people you know drive drunk with some frequency, is my beef.

    Liquid Premium: Maybe impounding isn’t the answer, but its a start. If people know this is a possibility, and its enforced more harshly, it would probably have a better effect. But here’s the thing: both immigration and DUI laws are enforced very, very poorly. Why’s there only outrage over illegal immigrants?

    Scott: Nice of you to prove my point.

  25. david,

    meth is a problem, too. but if a high school kid overdosed on it and it was discovered that it was being sold in the vending machines at his school, which do you think would be the bigger story? that he took meth or that it was in the vending machine?

    but i would love it if this country was tougher on drunk driving.

  26. David: I never said DUI wasn’t a big issue. It is. Penalties need to be harsher.

    But illegal immigartion is an even bigger threat to this country — and I say that as a lifelong liberal Democrat. Illegal immigration is an even bigger problem that is debilitating our social services — the safety net that was created for Americans and those here LEGALLY. Penalties need to be harsher, both for those who are here illegally and those who hire them, and those who shelter them.

  27. There’s nothing mutually exclusive about being concerned with both DUIs and illegal immigration. The debate about which is worse strikes me as impossible to resolve, so I’ll leave that alone.

    But the part of the article that the original poster identified as wrong is the notion that there’s any meaningful relationship between the illegal status of the driver and the accident. This seems ludicrous.

    Some of the commenters have suggested that it’s a moral hazard issue: illegals are uninsured and they therefore drive more recklessly. I’m not sure if this is right, but if you’re a rational illegal immigrant, you’d likely be much much more careful than the average driver because if the authorities become involved in an accident you may well end up deported. And if you’ve done anything illegal in the course of the accident, that’s immediate grounds for summary deportation even for some kinds of legal residents.

    The second point to consider is that the “reckless illegals” story works in the opposite direction. If a citizen causes a wreck with a car driven by illegal immigrants,they’ll likely get away scot-free because the illegals will be loath to contact the police or an insurance company about it. The point is simply that people can benefit as well as suffer from the reticence illegals have for contacting authorities in traffic situations.

  28. david
    yes, drunk driving laws should be much harsher, but you left one KEY WORD out this statement:

    “…the right wing media and anti-immigration crowd…”

    which is ILLEGAL!

    you should have written, the anti-ILLEGAL immigration crowd.

    and you know, there are LEGAL IMMIGRANTS in the US who also oppose ILLEGAL immigration

  29. very true.

    my wife is a LEGAL immigrant and has been approached several times by illegals asking if they can “borrow” her social security number. they only need it for a few months, they say. like it magically expires or something. then when she refuses they tell her she’s selfish. if anyone is selfish, it’s the illegal immigrants.

  30. The issue is crime. Whether it be social security fraud, drugs or drunk driving is irrelevant.

    We probably all agree that drunk driving is worse than illegally entering a country. Why can’t we all agree that an illegal immigrant committing a crime is worse than a citizen who does so?

    Why specifically “harshen” drunk driving laws when simply enforcing immigration laws will be much more effective in preventing crime…in general?

    Deporting illegals who commit crimes is justified. Just as it would be justified to deport Americans who commit crimes while abroad.

    Conservatives are simply trying to convince the public that illegal immigration is wrong. Crime statistics are a method of doing so. High-profile DUI-related deaths are a part of this.

    Legal Mexican immigrants made up the largest group of immigrants in 2006. There is no racist right wing conspiracy. There is simply a demand for respect of our laws and culture. Since there is such a large demand for our laws and culture in the first place.

  31. Hey Jeff, I agree with your sentiments, but don’t assume that “conservatives” have it right. GWB was pushing for outright amnesty, and it’s laissez-faire-loving big business that wants to keep the immigrants coming to fill their factories. I’m only slighty to the right of Karl Marx, and think stopping the flow across the border should be our country’s number one priority.

  32. Come to Illinois They are trying to pass legislation to allow Illegal immigrants to get a drivers license in the hope they will get insurance Rightttttt. Just gives them some mobility so they can get to there jobs quicker

  33. The statistics you hear on “drunk driving” are really alcohol related. The alcohol related part means any driver or pedestrian(iirc on the pedestrian) involved in the accident was drinking, not necessarily the one that caused or contributed to the accident.
    The reason they don’t keep more detailed statistics is because it would be difficult to support the reasoning they give to hike fines etc. Going after drunk drivers is a good political thing, so they want to play the numbers. Also, as I recall, the numbers actually reflect drugs (illegal or otherwise), etc. If you are really interested you can research it more on the web. Kind of an interesting view into our government and groups that influence them.

    Other then that, laws against drunk driving are probably reasonable, my concern is by playing the numbers it is hard to find out what other issues are involved, like talking on phone, texting on phone, all the other silly things people do while driving.

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