Shortly after I got my drivers license I drove to a New Years Eve party and got totally blitzed. The next morning my mother burst into my bedroom, startling me awake. "What happened to the car?!" she angrily screamed at me.
"What?" I replied from my half-awake hungover haze.
"What happened to the car?!" She demanded again.
I thought for moment, and then settled on the truth. "I got really drunk last night," I told her, "so I left the car at the party and walked home."
I was not punished for my behavior. In fact, I think my mother was kinda proud. I wasn't particularly experienced at either drinking or driving, but even at sixteen I had the commonsense (or perhaps the fear instilled from my recent drivers ed course) not to combine the two.
And that's what makes it such a big scandal every time an elected official like Senator Michael Crapo (R-Idaho) gets pulled over on a DUI. These are people who should know better. (They're also people, as Atrios repeatedly points out, who can afford a cab or a driver.) And no, the booze is not an excuse for their lack of judgment. A 0.11 percent blood alcohol level is drunk enough to know you're too drunk to drive, but not so drunk that you're incapacitated to the point that you just don't give a shit.
So to dismiss this as a temporary lack of judgment is to let him off to easy: Senator Crapo chose to drive drunk because that's who he is. Something to remember the next time he moralizes on anything.