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July 24, 2009

Drunk driver given the death penalty in China

My students get tired of hearing me say that if America was really committed to the deterrence theory of the death penalty, some states would consider the sentence of death for drunk driving.  But, as this news report highlights, the idea of using the death penalty for the crime of drunk driving is not just a hypothetical in China:

Sun Weiming, a company executive in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province, drove his Buick car into four sedans traveling in the opposite direction on December 14. Four people were killed and one was seriously injured in the crash. Investigations revealed Sun has been driving his car without a license since May 2008.

Doctors found 135.8 milligrams of alcohol in Sun’s blood. The government considers anyone with 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milligrams of blood drunk.

Police said Sun's car was traveling at a speed 120 percent higher than the limit on that road. Sun first scraped a car and, in a bid to escape, drove his vehicle on to the other side of the road and crashed into four oncoming vehicles.

The Chengdu Intermediate People’s Court sentenced Chen to death “for an offense against public safety”, newssc.net, the official news website of Sichuan Province, reported. Sun said he would appeal against the verdict.

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July 24, 2009 at 09:35 AM | Permalink


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The government considers anyone with 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milligrams of blood drunk.

I wonder if this is a misprint. I don't recall the measurements exactly, but I'm not sure that a bottle of vodka even has 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milligrams of water.

All the same, good for China.

Posted by: anonymous | Jul 24, 2009 10:07:40 AM

As long as we are going to impose extremely harsh sentences on the basis of trying to deter people who are actually deterrable, how about death penalty for massive white collar frauds. I mean, if you wipe out the pension fund for a large company (for example), the resulting reduced level of health care and resources for thousands of pensioners (not to mention the stress) may very well result in more than 4 otherwise preventable deaths... and rich executives are much more rational and deterrable than your average violent felon.

Posted by: anon | Jul 24, 2009 10:32:41 AM

Vodka is usually about 40% alcohol by volume, but a mg to mL comparison is a bit harder since alcohol and water have different densities and mix incredibly well to the point that 1 unit of water plus 1 unit of alcohol produce less than 2 units total.

Of course, alcohol is so hydrophilac that getting pure alcohol to begin with isn't particularly easy.

As for the post, I have no problems with this sentence and would love to see the US adopt the death penalty for many of the crimes China executes for. Especially government officials accepting bribes.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Jul 24, 2009 10:50:20 AM

He took the lives of four people, after violating many laws. He had the 123D meter whirring. He has outworn his welcome here on earth.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 24, 2009 4:21:49 PM

I think if someone kills someone while DUI they should be prosecuted for murder.

a. It's not a great secret that driving under the influence is illegal and dangerous. That shows intent.

b. A life was taken.

Posted by: Bill | Jul 24, 2009 5:02:41 PM

Given the current death penalty jurisprudence as written into law by the unelected Supreme Court, you’d have a tough time getting a death verdict out of a jury. And remember, prosecutors don’t even seek the DP in most cases, even those where (unlike DUI) the murders were intentional. It would also be passing strange if you could be put to death for DUI, but a multiple rapist would be constitutionally prohibited from the DP—again, according to SCOTUS.

If you want to take action, petition Congress to amend the Constitution to put the decision for which crimes are death-eligible back in the hands of the states.

Posted by: Marc Shepherd | Jul 24, 2009 6:13:54 PM

Bill, Without exception people whose relatives are facing any more than 3 days in jail seem to think that DUI penalties are too harsh. In fact, I now think it is funny to watch families of “law and order” types told that their kids will be going to jail for 20 days in the “general population.” It will be even funnier to watch them told that because their kids had a few beers and something bad happened they will be killed.

Secondly, as a legal matter, just because something is illegal and dangerous does not “show” intent. At best, It shows recklessness, but it does not show an intent to kill anyone. But, I don’t think that you are (or ever were) in the nuance business.

Marc, Lots of people are unelected. Cops. Most prosecutors. In fact, the most lawless and evil government body is completely unelected: juries. Did you know that one can sit on a jury without having been to law school or passed the bar? A lowlife without a college education could be on a jury. One could even be unpopular and nerdy and be on a jury, and that nerd could usurp the power of the legislature and refuse to convict the person that that an elected prosecutor decided that he wanted to put in jail or kill. Is this justice? I think not. We must work together to end the terror that juries and unelected prosecutors and judges have inflicted on the country.

Posted by: S.cotus | Jul 25, 2009 2:45:33 PM

123D. The rent-seeking criminal cult attorney perpetuates his control and continued employment with civil rights suits, habeas challenges, and frivolous torts.

Posted by: Redundancy Clause | Jul 25, 2009 3:07:34 PM

" Lowlife without a college education"

Once again S.cotus shows his snobbery! There are many hard working intelligent people without an college education just as there is some complete stupid people with college educations. Please get off your high horse.

Posted by: Anon | Jul 25, 2009 7:30:25 PM

"There are many hard working intelligent people without an college education"

No there are not.

Posted by: S.cotus | Jul 25, 2009 8:10:24 PM

"There are many hard working intelligent people without an college education"

Scotus replied No there are not

uummh- Bill Gates, Jack Taylor(Enterprise Rent a Car), Michael Dell

Posted by: Anon | Jul 26, 2009 3:18:32 PM

Well, it makes sense that a car can become a like a loaded gun when the driver is loaded with alcohol. It's no secret that driving under the influence can take lives.

Posted by: Ajlouny | Jul 26, 2009 10:49:22 PM

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