During a DWI voir dire I often remind jurors that drinking then driving is not illegal sans intoxicaiton. That is why every bar in Texas has a parking lot.
But should it take a trip in automobile to reach a bar? Does our sprawl/automobile based society create DWI accidents?
First, a travelogue. My wife and I spent last week at a conference in San Antonio, and then spent Saturday in Austin. In SA we stayed at the Emily Morgan. The first night my wife and I walked to Casa Rio, had some drinks with dinner, and walked back. Two nights later at the TCDLA member party we walked to the Hilton, drank at the very loud “English” pub Mad Dogs (do people really wear plaid skirts and listen to Beyonce in English pubs?) and walked back. On both occasions picking a designated driver or hailing a cab wasn’t even a consideration, we could walk so we did walk.
Why don’t cities and suburbs encourage such situations? In a sprawled out drive everywhere state like Texas DWI is inevitable when the majority of our population don’t live within walking distance of anything but houses. Yet the government gets a free pass for their poor zoning decisions. If people like to drink together in public, why does the government require them to drive to do so?
It’s not just alcohol that requires a car trip. In suburbia all forms of human interaction require an internal combustion engine. In Austin (south of downtown) the neighborhoods are dense and spill over into commercial areas. Saturday for lunch we met a friend at a hamburger joint and she walked from her house. I’ve lived around Dallas for most of my life, I have’t walked to a meal since I was 14. Today I live in Ennis, you could walk from my house for an hour before reaching a non residential structure.
What if we let the market decide where alcohol was served? What if we allowed bars (with or without parking lots), closer to residential areas? Let me adopt a common statist argument- if changing zoning laws prevented one DWI fatality, wouldn’t it be worth it?