Drinking and driving has never been and never will be okay. Every drunk driver thinks they are safe to drive when they get behind the wheel, no matter how much they’ve had to drink. What they do not think about is the potential car crash that could occur during the drive to their destination. Not only does it take a toll, or even a life, of those involved in the crash, it effects the families and communities as well. In 2012, drunk drivers got behind the wheel about 121 million times (Sobering Facts: Drunk Driving State Fact Sheets). There are multiple strategies used to put an end to drinking and driving, but it is still very prominent in our communities. Drinking and driving isn’t only dangerous, but law enforcement must take multiple steps to properly assess drinking and driving arrests and accidents.
The legal blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, for anyone twenty-one and older is at or lower than 0.08%, anything above is considered alcohol-impaired. The zero tolerance laws state that it is illegal for anyone under twenty-one to drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in their system. Almost one third of all traffic deaths in the United States involve a drunk driver. Between 2003 and 2012, in Indiana alone, 2,210 people were killed in crashes involving a drunk driver. Per 100,000 people in a population, 1.2% of people who died by a drunk driving wreck were between the ages of zero and twenty, 7.2% of people were between the ages of twenty-one and thirty-four, 3.5% of people were thirty-five or older and 3.6% of people were between all ages. Only 1.6% of adults report driving after drinking too much (Sobering Facts: Drunk Driving State Fact Sheets).
According to the article Driver Alcohol Impairment in Fatal Crashes, by Age by the Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection says that, 22% of US teens in a 2013 survey reported that in the previous month they had ridden with a driver who had been drinking. It also states that 71% of drivers ages fifteen to twenty years old killed in 2012 in a motor-vehicle crash after drinking and driving were not wearing a seat belt. The article Drunk Driving by Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection states that, beyond its human toll, alcohol-impaired driving carries an annual financial burden of $44 billion, according to the CDC. This estimate accounts for medical and legal expenses, court costs, property damage, insurance administration, lost employee productivity, workplace losses, and traffic congestion resulting from accident investigations.
According to the article What Works: Strategies to Reduce or Prevent Drunk Driving, there are numerous strategies all put in place to reduce or prevent drunk driving. Sobriety checkpoints allow law enforcement to briefly stop vehicles are specific, highly visible locations to see if the driver is impaired. Officers can stop all or a portion of the drivers. Ignition interlocks are installed in cars to measure alcohol on the driver’s breath. These interlocks keep the car from starting if the driver has a BAC above a certain level, usually 0.02%. They are used for previously convicted drunk driving offenders and are highly effective. The article states that mandating interlocks for all offenders, including first-time offenders will have the greatest impact. Mass media campaigns are used to spread messages about the physical dangers and legal consequences of drunk driving.
They persuade people not to drink and drive and encourage them to keep other drivers from doing so. Media campaigns are more effective when supporting other impaired driving prevention strategies such as Logan’s Promise. Logan’s Promise is a group that is made up of people from the community to engage people within the community and promote the understanding and action necessary to control drinking and driving; and to increase public awareness of these problems. The group was stared by the family of Logan Brown when he was involved in a drunk driving accident and lost his life in March of 2015. In December of 2016, the life of Skylar Robinson was also taken due to a drunk driving accident. Both families and friends of the families have started working together to spread awareness everywhere they go. Mothers Against Drunk Driving, MADD, is an anti-impairment advocacy organization. It played a major role in the development and passage of per se laws, which state that driving with a BAC above 0.08% is illegal and no other proof is required to convict the accused driver (Drunk Driving).
Not only is drinking and driving hard on the community, it is also a long process for law enforcement. Officer Wilmes, of the Boonville Police Department states that the hardest part about dealing with a drunk driving accident is the paperwork and the intoxicated people involved as they can be very uncooperative. If the accident causes a death, local law enforcement must get Indiana State Police there. They will take pictures, do measurements, try to figure out exactly what happened to present in court and try to reconstruct the accident. Emergency medical services must be there as well.
Streets must be blocked off, traffic must be redirected, statements need to be gotten from witnesses and the intoxicated driver must have their blood drawn to figure out if they are just drunk or if they are intoxicated by drugs also. Officer Wilmes says processing the whole accident could take a whole shift. When asked what the worst situation is that you have had to deal with, officer Wilmes replies, When a parent is driving with a child or juvenile. Having to decide whether to take the parent to jail then having to figure out where to place the child. It’s a tough and frustrating situation. You see the worst of the worst. When you’re out having a couple beers, you remember the times you work the wrecks and people get hurt. They blow a .2 and it gets serious, Wilmes speaks about how dealing with a drunk driving accident affects him personally.
Drunk driving has been an issue in our communities for far too long. With the efforts of law enforcement and members of the community we can put an end to it. Too many lives have been lost due to something as preventable as drinking and driving. Call a friend, call a taxi, call an Uber. Finding a safe and sober driver will be cheaper than paying for all the expenses that come with drinking and driving.
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