People are killed by drunk driving, and this is tragic, but the answers to this issue are too often colored by emotions, personal desires for revenge, and not through the pursuit of logical thought, sound public legislature, nor backed by data gathered from statistical sources.
The number of fatalities related to alcohol, a grossly exaggerated figure, refers to whether any of the people involved in an accident is suspected of drinking alcohol beverages, even the slightest quantity, regardless of whether an individual was the cause behind the accident or not. When the time comes to analyze police reports for contributing factors relating to human error during the course of a fatal incident, 11% are typically blamed on physical impairment. However, physical impairment is a broad category covering illnesses, falling asleep, heart attacks, fainting, strokes, insulin shock, seizures, and other abnormal physical factors. Irresponsibility on our roadways comes in many shapes, and driving impaired is only a cross-section of the whole problem.
The question of what to do regarding the drunk drivers in our society often results in knee-jerk actions from lawmakers, leading to strict laws and tough punishments. But tough punishments haven’t been proven as effective, Severs sanctions work well on socially responsible drivers, on those who have the presence of mind, the common sense to be easily deterred… the section of society who are the smallest problem to our society. These tough sanctions simply don’t work as effectively on the irresponsible members of society, the hardened drinkers and drunkards who are our greatest problem, dragging society down.
Addressing The Real Problem
Taking action to cut the legal intoxication level from 0.10 to 0.08% BAC or less will likely do little to get at the true problem. This hardcore group we referred to will not be diverted from their chaotic course by this type of legislation. The hardcore drinker wakes up early in the day already topping the measurement scale at 0.1 BAC, building on this measurement from there. Most drunk driving deaths come from a BAC level of around 0.2. If legislature was to cut the level to 0.08, they would simply be more of the wrong section of society, the individuals who are not the true problem. The DWI laws are like the locks securing a bicycle: they keep the responsible among us honest, but they’re next to useless against the more tenacious bicycle thieves.
In their single-minded efforts to get “them,” select groups such as MADD have become “us” instead by curtailing our constitutional rights heavily in the area of self-recrimination, privacy, search and seizure, and the freedom we founded this nation upon. We’ve paid the cost of these laws, but it’s questionable whether we’ve actually bought a greater degree of safety to our lives. The irresponsible hard drinker, the potential drunk driver in our community can’t be controlled so easily, especially by the well-meaning among us, the ineffective attempts of those among us who believe our criminal justice system can solve the issue. Law enforcement agencies should focus on the characteristics of this group of hardcore drinkers instead of the general population. Individuals who conduct themselves in this demeanor can easily be detected.
Law makers should stop being caught up in the mass media hype, most of it misleading, and enact legislation which deals with the bulk of individuals administratively beyond the court system with licence suspension, care and treatment, counseling, and education. People with a core of responsibility self-correct, using common sense. Deadbeats don’t.