Drinking and Driving

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Drinking & Driving
Driving while either intoxicated or drunk is dangerous and drivers with high blood alcohol content or concentration (BAC) are at greatly increased risk of car accidents, highway injuries and vehicular deaths. Possible prevention measures examined here include establishing DWI courts, suspending or revoking driver licenses, impounding or confiscating vehicle plates, impounding  or immobilizing vehicles, enforcing open container bans, increasing penalties such as fines or jail for drunk driving, and mandating alcohol education. Safety seat belts, air bags, designated drivers, and effective practical ways to stay sober are also discussed.

Additional Information

• Driving While Intoxicated (DWI/DUI) Information
• Preventing Drunk Driving
• Young Drivers & Alcohol
• Doctors for Designated Driving

THE PROBLEM

Every single injury and death caused by drunk driving is totally preventable. Although the proportion of crashes that are alcohol-related has dropped dramatically in recent decades, there are still far too many such preventable accidents. Unfortunately, in spite of great progress, alcohol-impaired driving remains a serious national problem that tragically effects many victims annually. It's easy to forget that dry statistics represent real people and real lives. Therefore, this page is dedicated to the memory of one randomly-selected victim of a drunk driver, young Donette Rae Jackson.

THE FACTS

Most drivers who have had something to drink have low blood alcohol content or concentration (BAC) and few are involved in fatal crashes. On the other hand, while only a few drivers have BACs higher than .15, a much higher proportion of those drivers have fatal crashes. • The average BAC among fatally injured drinking drivers is .16 1 • The relative risk of death for drivers in single-vehicle crashes with a high BAC is 385 times that of a zero-BAC driver and for male drivers the risk is 707 times that of a sober driver, according to estimates by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). 2 • High BAC drivers tend to be male, aged 25-35, and have a history of DWI convictions and polydrug abuse. 3

THE SOLUTION

Drunk driving, like most other social problems, resists simple solutions. However, there are a number of actions, each of which can contribute toward a reduction of the problem: • DWI courts, sometimes called DUI courts, sobriety courts, wellness courts or accountability courts have proven effective in reducing the crime of drunken driving (driving while   intoxicated or while impaired). Such courts address the problem of hard-core repeat   offenders by treating alcohol addiction or alcoholism. The recidivism or failure rate of DWI courts  is very low. 4 • Automatic license revocation appears to be the single most effective measure to reduce drunk driving. 5 • Automatic license revocation along with a mandatory jail sentence appears to be even more effective than just automatic license revocation. 6 • Impounding or confiscating license plates. 7

• Mandating the installation of interlock devices that prevent intoxicated persons from starting a vehicle. 8 • Vehicle impoundment or immobilization. 9
• Expanding alcohol server training programs. 10
• Implementing social norms programs that correct the misperception that most   people sometimes drive under the influence of alcohol. 11 • Passing mandatory alcohol and drug testing in fatal crashes would promote successful prosecution of drunk and drugged drivers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has estimated that 18-20% of injured drivers are using drugs and although drinking is on the decline,   drugging is on the increase.  However, this figure appears to be much too low. For example: o A study of drivers admitted to a Maryland trauma center found that 34$ tested positive for drugs only, while 16% tested positive for alcohol only. 12...
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