Drunk driving is a serious problem that affects everyone on the road. The
driving" is used to describe the operation of a motor vehicle while in
a state of incapacity due to alcohol or drug intoxication. The consumption
of alcohol or a drug can result in reduced vision, perception, reaction, and
competence. Drunk drivers kill more and more people every year.
Many states are making tougher laws about drinking and driving but that doesn't
mean that people will stop doing it. Each and every day drivers are arrested
for driving under the influence, or driving while intoxicated as law enforcement
continue to crackdown on these dangerous offenders. For many of these drivers
it will not be their first drunk driving offense.
It is estimated than between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, close to 2,000
people are killed in alcohol related traffic accidents.
Fortunately, a combination of tougher laws, awareness campaigns, and changing
has had a positive impact on the drunk driving problem. The number of arrests
for DUI decreased from a peak of 1,613,000 in 1983 to 1,033,000 in 1995. At
the same time, the percentage of alcohol related fatal accidents has dropped
from 57 percent in 1982 to 41 percent in 1995.
Drunk Driving Statistics from 2003:
- Drinking and driving contributed to 124 fatal crashes, 370 serious injury
crashes and 859 minor injury crashes.
- Drinking and driving contributed to 141 deaths, 555 serious injuries
and 1398 minor injuries.
- 31% of all road deaths were in drinking-related
- The social cost of drinking related crashes was about $760 million
(about 23% of the social cost associated with all injury crashes).
- Over 80% of drivers with excess blood alcohol levels involved in
fatal crashes were male.
- In 2003, drunk drivers were responsible for killing 38 of their
own passengers, 26 other drivers, passengers, cyclists and pedestrians,
and 77 of these
drunk drivers were themselves killed.
- The combination of alcohol and speed during the period 2001-2003
contributed to 19% of fatal crashes.
- Alcohol alone contributes
to 12%, and speed
alone contributes to 16% of fatal crashes. So alcohol and speed
are factors in
47% of all fatal crashes.
- Over 2 million people were breath tested by Police.
Drivers may be surprised to find that penalties for DUI, even the first offense,
have been increased since they last checked. Due to the efforts of groups like
Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD), some 1,600 new DUI laws have been passed
nationwide since 1980. Every state has adopted 21 as the legal drinking age.
Two-thirds of the states have now passed Administrative License Revocation
(ALR) laws, which permit the arresting officer to seize the license of drivers
who fail or decline to take a breathalyzer test.
Several states have lowered the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC)
limit from .10 to .08 percent for adults, and more than a dozen states have
passed Zero Tolerance laws. This law prohibits drivers under 21 from having
any measurable amount of alcohol in their blood system. In addition to these
changes, the penalties have increased for drunk driving, especially for repeat
offenders. Many state legislatures have passed laws requiring mandatory jail
time for repeat DUI convictions. Drunk drivers can also expect larger fines
and longer lengths of time that their license will be suspended.
Even though the drunk driving laws are different in every state, there are
some areas that remain the same no matter where you live. For those who hope
to reduce their sentence or charge they are often wasting their time and money.
The penalties that the judge must impose are mandated by state law. In some
states even first time offenders may be facing lengthy license suspensions
and a weekend in jail. Many states require offenders to complete some form
school. However, the classes have become much more involved than just sitting
in class and watching a video. Often times the offenders will need to pass
a written test. In some areas, part of the DUI school curriculum puts offenders
face to face with the victims of their drunk driving. They tell their painful
stories of how a drunk driver changed their lives forever. Conceivably, personalizing
the pain that drinking and driving can cause will make the offender stop and
think before getting behind the wheel.