I'll Keep You Posted

As I’ve previously mentioned, I’m employed as a driving instructor in Ohio.  A pretty good job as jobs for old retired guys go, and I have a good time with it.

I’m a “behind-the-wheel” instructor for our wonderful local teen-agers, and I occasionally teach a classroom presentation to these same dandy kids.  On alternate Saturdays I teach our “remedial” course.  

The remedial course is a court ordered day of instruction (8 hours plus breaks) for adults who have had DUI’s (or, as we call them in Ohio, OVI’s--"Operating a Vehicle Impaired”, and if that’s not a tortured phrase, I don’t know what is).  I usually also have a handful of young adults in the class who are in danger of having their licenses suspended for too many tickets, and want to obtain a two point “credit” against their anticipated driving dalliances, and others who have had their licenses suspended for any number of reasons.  The class is always full, and we always have a whopping good time.

The remedial course has a large portion of the allotted time dedicated to alcohol and alcohol offenses, like drunk driving, for example.  So, being from another state (California), and armed with the knowledge that traffic laws are a state’s rights issue, I looked up some stuff about DUI laws in Ohio.  You know.....I wanted to be able to answer some questions from the assemblage if questions were asked.  And they were.

I thought that I was leaving the worst bureaucracy on earth when I left California.  Wrong.  Ohio is a mess.  Here is some of the interesting stuff about DUI/OVI in Ohio:
-Motorized wheelchairs are exempt.  You can go ahead and get plastered and drive your motorized wheelchair on a roadway and only risk going to jail for being drunk and stupid, but not DUI/OVI.
-A single law prohibits DUI/OVI on both public and private property in Ohio.  Mowing your front lawn on a riding lawn mower can result in a trip to the slammer for DUI/OVI.
-You can pick up a DUI/OVI on a bicycle, but not on any other vehicle propelled solely by human power.  Your tricycle and unicycle are exempt.
-In one of the most bizarre little corners of the DUI/OVI statutes is a specific exemption for the Segway motorized vehicle.  If you don’t know what this thing is, think Paul Blart.

I guess that these little idiosyncracies can be accounted for by the firm knowledge that Vehicle Code law, like Welfare law, Drug law, and Tax law, doesn’t have to make sense.  Criminal  statues and most civil law is based on something solid--we call it COMMON LAW--in other words, it’s based on common sense and old ideas.  For example, it’s against the law to steal stuff because we all know that’s wrong.  We can’t indiscriminately kill other human beings without cause.  That’s just wrong, and we all know it.  These other bodies of law, including Traffic law, were made up as we went along.  These laws can be changed retro-actively (in lawyer-talk, they refer to this as an ex post facto law) because they never had to make sense to begin with.  

It’s against the law because a bunch of elected officials decided it should be.  Maybe for good reasons, and maybe not, but it doesn’t have to make sense, and it can be changed retro-actively.  All this is good for the legal establishment, but not for the rest of us.

In any event, you can ride your Segway in Ohio while you’re three sheets to the wind without fear of a DUI/OVI.  But that might change tomorrow.  I’ll keep you posted.


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