Drunk Driving Still Not Seen as a Problem by Some

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(Newswire.net — November 14, 2015) — In 2013, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended stricter allowable blood alcohol limits. They asked that the 50 states lower the allowable alcohol limit of 0.08 percent to 0.05 percent because this was the standard set for most developed countries. However, a visit to the DMV website shows that this simple, common sense idea went nowhere. According to the website, “All 50 states have now set .08% blood alcohol concentration (BAC) as the legal limit for driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while impaired (DWI).”

Board member Robert J. Sumwalt recounted personal stories about how the consequences of an accident due to drunk driving affected both the driver and the accident victim. A drunk driver traveling in the wrong direction on a highway killed his wife’s first cousin. Every Sunday, his own cousin visits her daughter in prison. The 21 year-old was incarcerated for 15 years for drunken driving. 

Here is a classic example of how many people still do not see drunk driving as a problem. Something as simple as lowering the allowable blood alcohol level remains ignored despite the obvious tragedies arising from drunk driving. 

Ronald Reagan Confronted a Nation in Denial

It was actually President Ronald Reagan who raised the issue 30 years ago. His efforts shattered the widespread denial about the dangers of drunk driving. As a result, the number of deaths dropped from 21,000 to 10,000, but it took 30 years to drop the number to half. 

However, much of the credit for decreased highway deaths is not due to more aware people. It is actually due to two things: better safety measures and more law enforcement.

Better Safety Measures

Manufacturers building safer cars, and the use of seatbelts and air bags. The Kalka & Baer law firm explain: “Seatbelts, when worn, help protect the people in the car from side swipes, fender benders, and front-on collisions. Both airbags and seatbelts have helped saves lives and prevent injuries from serious car accidents.”

More Law Enforcement

Despite a latitude in the allowable alcohol level, the law has made measurable progress in other areas.

Today, someone found guilty of a DUI can face the following court consequences:

Today, if a court finds someone guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol, the following consequences may occur:

·  The court may impose some fines and an additional driver responsibility tax.

·  The court may suspend or revoke the driving license. If it does not, the DMV still has the power to do so.

·  The court may require enrollment in a drunk driver education program.

·  The DMV may add points to the driver’s license. As a result, car insurance will increase.

·  The court may sentence a person to jail. If this is not enforced, the court may still mandate community service work.

·  The court may put someone on parole or probation.

·  The court may impose many statutory fees. These offset the state’s expenses for DUI cases.

Many Drivers Ignore the Law

There is only so much that the law can do to make people improve their behavior. It’s estimated that between 500 to 2,000 driving incidents don’t get penalized. On one hand, more people are arrested for drunk driving than any other offence in the US. On the other hand, increasing the arrest rate is not enough. Many people who drink and drive get away with it so often that they shrug off the possibility of getting caught. Even when caught, they might pass the current lenient allowable blood alcohol levels.

How to Raise Awareness

The solution is to raise awareness to such an extent that denial become impossible. Denial of how bad things can get is the primary deterrent to the recurring problem of drunk driving. Ideally, a person assumes self-responsibility and does not drive after drinking. However, what may be more realistic is to confront their behavior.

MADD.org  suggests the following series of behavioral interventions:

  • Be as non-confrontational as possible.
  • Suggest alternate ways of getting to their destination — a cab, a sober driver, public transportation.
  • Remember that the person you are talking to is impaired — talk a bit more slowly and explain things more fully than if you were speaking to a sober person.
  • Explain that you don’t want them to drive because you care and you don’t want them to hurt themselves or others.
  • Suggest that they sleep over.
  • Enlist a friend to help you or to act as moral support — it’s more difficult to say “no” to two (or three or four) people than one.
  • If possible, get the person’s keys. It is far easier to persuade the potential driver when you hold this leverage.
  • If all else fails, call law enforcement. It’s better to have a friend arrested than injured or killed.

Where Do We Go From Here?

There are two ways to end the recurring problem of drunk driving, and both focus on making a dent in the wall of denial that perpetrates this tragedy.

One way is to force awareness by lowering the allowable blood alcohol level that was suggested in 2013 for all drivers. While it’s admirable to be strict on commercial drivers, who have to pass a 0.04% level, and teenagers, who are confronted with a zero tolerance policy for a DUI, that still leaves a large enough proportion of the driving public to get away with driving while drunk.

The other way is to confront people in social drinking situations from getting into their cars and driving.