Drinking and Driving

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Alcohol is enjoyed by many throughout the world. As one of the most popular legal drugs to sell in the United States, it has produced massive revenue for party stores, restaurants, and even major retail stores. Although there are some definite benefits to distributing alcohol in the U.S., there are also many negative consequences. It has become very difficult to monitor the legal drinking age of 21, and as a result minors are gaining access to alcohol and drinking much earlier in life than they should be. Another significant problem is that not only do minors drink irresponsibly, but many adults as well. One of the biggest problems related to irresponsible drinking is driving while intoxicated (DWI). Fatality rates related to DWI’s are astronomical. According to the data compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 1990 alone, 20,083 people were killed as a result of alcohol related crashes. In 1995, fatalities were still estimated at about 17,274. In 1998, DWI related death rates still amounted to 15,936 (“Drunk Driving,” n.d.). Although these numbers did decrease slightly each year, this trend did not continue indefinitely. In 2003, numbers were back up to 17,105. There was a 2.4% reduction in fatalities by 2004, with 16,694 alcohol-related deaths. (“.08 BAC,” n.d.). A poll conducted in 1996 concluded that impaired drivers accounted for only one percent of those driving on the road during nighttime and weekends (“Drunk Driving,” n.d.). These astounding statistics should be of particular concern to our public. This affects not only those who are driving impaired, but also anyone who is on the road with them at that time, which includes not only drivers but passengers as well. This means that anyone who is transported on our roads is at risk of being injured or killed by these drunk drivers. In addition, the annual expense to the U.S. for DWI related accidents is about $51 billion (National Center, n.d.). It is clear that attention needs to be given to this detrimental topic and something should be done to secure our safety and our children and families safety as well. In response to this profound problem, laws in the U.S. have been changed in an attempt to reduce the number of DWI’s. As a result of implementing these new laws, one would expect to see major changes in drunk driving occurrences. Taking these factors into consideration, my hypothesis is that the number of DWI-related fatalities in the Unites States will significantly decrease within the next five years. Law changes

0.10% to 0.08% BAC law. One of the ways alcohol intoxication is determined is through blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels. This determines how much alcohol is in one’s bloodstream. It is considered one of the most accurate measures of impairment. A breathalyzer is the device used by police to detect this level when one is suspected of driving under the influence (DUI). The previous legal limit for driving in the U.S. was a 0.10% BAC level. Due to the intense cost to the U.S. and the staggering amounts of deaths related to DWI’s, more stringent laws regarding blood alcohol content (BAC) levels while driving were implemented. “In October 2000, the President signed the Fiscal Year 2001 transportation appropriations bill, requiring states to pass the 0.08% BAC law by October 2003 or risk losing the federal highway construction funds. As of October 1, 2003, 45 states and the District of Columbia had enacted a 0.08% BAC legislation” (National Center, n.d.). “As of 2005, all states will have passed a .08 BAC per se law and the final one takes effect then” (“.08 BAC,” n.d.). Decrease in DWI fatalities since .08 BAC law. Passing the .08 BAC law has made a big difference in the number of alcohol-related accidents and fatalities. A study conducted in Illinois found that when .08 BAC laws were strictly adhered to, there was a 13.7% decrease in the number of impaired driving fatalities. In addition, it was...
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