People often ask us about drunk driving car crashes and the law. In many states, there is mandatory jail time for driving while intoxicated, including causing drunk driving crashes. States enact these laws because driving drunk is such a serious matter. Drunk driving car crashes kill a person about every 40 minutes, and drunk driving crashes injure a person about every minute. As you can see, drunk driving is very prevalent.
Definition of Drunk Driving
In the United States, drivers are considered to be drunk if they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 %. A BAC of 0.08 % means a person has 0.08 grams of alcohol per 100 grams of their blood.
With a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 %, a person’s ability to drive is significantly impaired. They are less alert than normal and their reflexes are slowed. Their depth perception, distance acuity, and peripheral vision are impaired. Their coordination is also affected. They are at risk of causing drunk driving car crashes.
The Solution to Drunk Driving Car Crashes
Drunk driving crashes are a legal matter. If a person is injured or killed in drunk driving crashes, the driver can be charged with a crime. But there are interventions that help to reduce the incidence of drunk driving.
The following have been proven effective:
Having special courts to deal with those charged with driving while intoxicated. These courts, sometimes called DWI courts or DUI (driving under the influence) courts, are equipped to deal with both first-time offenders and repeat offenders. They can sentence offenders to jail time, but also order drug and alcohol treatment as appropriate.
Revocation of drivers licenses has been shown to be the single most effective intervention to reduce drunk driving.
Mandatory jail sentences along with revocation of drivers licenses may be even more effective.
Impounding or confiscating license plates is another intervention that has proven effective. Of course, impounding the car works, too.
Interlock devices can be installed on a vehicle (these are devices that prevent an intoxicated person from starting a vehicle).
As you can see, there are a number of interventions that help to prevent drunk driving crashes. There are also some interventions that have been tried but that have not worked so well.
Some things have not been shown to prevent drunk driving car crashes:
Jail time alone. When used along with other interventions, such as revocation of drivers licenses, incarceration may be a useful intervention.
Raising the price of taxes on alcohol.
How You Can Help
There are also things you can do as an individual to help prevent drunk driving car accidents. Here are a few of them:
This may seem obvious, but never drink and drive. Even if you think you’re sober enough, you may not be. Drinking clouds a person’s judgment, so you may not be as sober as you think you are. If you’ve been drinking, wait a couple of hours before getting behind the wheel. A good rule of thumb to follow is one hour for each drink you’ve had.
When you go out drinking with friends, select a designated driver who will not drink at all. Take your turn at being the designated driver.
Don’t let friends drink and drive. If your friend is intoxicated, take their car keys. They may be upset at the time, but they’ll thank you for it later. Drive them home if you’re sober, wait until their sober to return their keys, or call them a cab.