Drinking While Driving

We all know that when we drive while intoxicated or even drunk we expose ourselves to high danger. Of course, drinking while driving is even worse, adding distraction to the mix.

Statistics consistently show large numbers of drivers with high blood alcohol content (BAC) that are at increased risk of car accidents, highway injuries and vehicular deaths. Until recently, all measures of prevention were limited to license suspension or revocation, impounding or confiscating vehicle plates, enforcing open container bans, increasing fines or jail for repeat drunk driving arrests, mandating education for young people and lowering legal BACs. Now some officials are considering harsher punishments such as mandatory jail time and permanent vehicle forfeiture.

On the plus side, more and more people are thinking of effective and practical ways to stay sober or to avoid driving after (or while) consuming alcohol.

Every single injury and death caused by drunk driving can be prevented. Unfortunately, every year in the United States a large percentage of all traffic accidents are caused by drunk drivers. This is why drunken driving is still a serious national concern that each year tragically affects many thousands of people.

It's easy to forget that dry statistics represent real people and real lives. 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 fewer drivers have BACs higher than .15, many of those drivers have fatal crashes.

As recent studies have shown, the average BAC among fatally injured drivers is .17. Almost half of fatally injured drinking drivers have a BAC of .20 or over (which is over twice the legal limit in all states). High BAC drivers tend to be male, aged 25-35, and have a history of DWI convictions.

Drunk driving, like most other social problems, resists simple solutions. But, there are a number of actions, each of which can contribute toward a reduction of the problem. Many consider that the single and the most effective measure to reduce drunk driving is the automatic license revocation. License revocation effective, but we should remember that driving is a privilege, not a right. Just as we do not license those who lack eyesight, we should not hesitate to revoke the licenses of those who lack the good judgment not to drive drunk.

Another action is to combine automatic license revocation with mandatory jail sentences, which appears to be more effective than license revocation alone. Another good solution is for municipalities to mandate the installation of alcohol breath testing devices in establishments that serve alcohol to a certain percentage of their patrons. This would keep a lot of drinking drivers off the road and negate the need for some expensive and burdensome punishments.