Drunk Driving

Topics: Blood alcohol content, Drunk driving, Alcoholic beverage Pages: 10 (3216 words) Published: April 3, 2013
Conclusion : Combining drinking with driving established a powerful link through which MADD and other groups were able to create and impose their definition of the problem . Like other policies , the process of problem definition creates a social construction of the targeted groups , helping us to understand which policy tools will be adopted


Drunk driving is a primary cause of highway traffic accidents causing deaths and injuries with enormous monetary costs to society . The drunk driving was first recognized as a policy problem in the literature in 1904 , approximately 5 years after the first highway traffic fatality in the United States (Voas and Lacey . In 1982 , the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration started keeping statistics of alcohol related crashes through its Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS (Stewart and Fell . In 1982 , there were 26 ,173 alcohol related fatalities , which constituted 60 of all highway fatalities . In 2002 about 17 ,419 or roughly 41 of about 42 ,815 highway fatalities were estimated to be alcohol related which indicates a 19 change since 1982 (Stewart and Fell . Overall , alcohol related traffic fatalities have reduced by about 33 over the last two decades . Policies implemented to curb drunk driving in the last two decades seem to have an impact on alcohol related fatalities . FARS data shows a 62 decrease (1 .64 to .61 in alcohol related fatality rate since 1982 (Stewart and Fell

The general decline in the alcohol related fatalities for the general population is believed to be due to a combination of deterrent based laws , increased alcohol awareness and decrease in alcohol consumption increased publicity about prevention , and general car safety measures (Stewart and Fell . Starting 1980s , drunk driving has been conceptualized as a criminal justice issue . With the effect of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD ) and some other citizen activist groups , the issue has become a public policy problem in which drunk drivers are defined as "sinful killers " who drink and drive irresponsibly and claim lives of "innocent " victims . These efforts , according to Ross , created a "dominant paradigm " which focuses on the blameworthy driver

Thus , framing the issue as of a "sin " and drunk drivers as "deviants has dominated the policymaking process and socially constructed the drunk drivers as a target group with negative connotations in public mind (Meier . Policymakers responded the demands by legislating stricter deterrent based measures to punish those "criminal " drunk drivers and deter drunk driving to save lives (Ross . Therefore , it is important to examine how drunk driving emerged as a policy problem and how deterrent based laws are introduced and accepted as a solution to the problem This examines also the effects of MADD on legislation of drunk driving laws and effects of those laws on alcohol related fatalities


The struggle against drunk driving as a traffic safety problem began in late 1960s . Before 1960s , the federal government 's influence on states drunk driving policies was minimal . The national character and seriousness of traffic safety problems prompted Congress to enact the Highway Safety Act and the Motor Vehicle and Traffic Safety Act , in 1966 . In 1967 , the Secretary of Transportation officially promulgated the first federal drunk driving standards in the National Uniform Standards for State Highway Safety Programs . One of the requirements of this program was for each state to utilize chemical tests for determining blood alcohol levels (BAC ) and to enact BAC limits of no greater than .10 (Evans et al

If an individual is found to be driving with a BAC over a certain threshold they would be arrested for drunk driving . Those standards came with the threat of reducing highway funds for noncompliance . Although some states viewed the 1967 standards and the threats of reducing highway funds as interfering with...

Cited: Baum , Scott "Drink Driving as a Social Problem : Comparing the Attitudes and Knowledge of Drink Driving Offenders and the General Community Accident Analysis and Prevention . 32 (2000 : 689-694
Evans , William N , Doreen Neville , and John D
Meier , Kenneth J (1994 . The Politics of Sin : Drugs , Alcohol , and Public Policy . Armonk , NY : M .E . Sharpe
Meier , Kenneth J "Drugs , Sex , Rock , and Roll : A Theory of Morality Politics " Policy Studies Journal
Ross , H . Laurence . Confronting Drunk Driving : Social Policy for Saving Lives . New Haven , CT : Yale University Press , 1992
Stewart , Kathryn and James Fell "Trends in Impaired Driving in the United States : Complacency or Backsliding " In Daniel R
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