Every year, hundreds of people are killed in accidents related to Drunk Driving. State governments have been trying to fight the problem for years but have been unable to make a dent. The reason for this is that they have been too focused on penalties. They advertise the amount of money a conviction will cost, the possible jail time, and, the latest penalty, a breathalyzer attached to every vehicle in your household. This last penalty might be the most effective; commercials threaten the embarrassment for an entire family having to take a breathalyzer in front of their friends.
The problem is that all of these penalties require people to think about them with an addled state of consciousness. Sure, those stop DUI commercials with the stern-faced police and the threatening voiceover may frighten someone in the middle of the day, sitting at home where they can see everything they have to lose. But, at a bar, after a few drinks too many, with a nice warm car waiting outside and maybe an annoying friend or a good looking stranger begging you for a ride, those threats fade far from the mind. Any effective deterrent has to take effect at the beginning of the night not at the end.
Lawmakers Approached The Best Solution :
when they lowered the limit from .12 to .08. They targeted the correct area but fell far short of what was needed. .08 still allows someone to go out intending to have one or two beers and then drive home. All too many times that individual will have too many drinks and then have to worry about the car in the parking lot. They have to worry about paying the fee overnight, the possibility of theft, and returning the next day to pick it up.
Obviously, the best case would be for the driver to leave his or her car home at the beginning of the night. To do this, the United States should follow the many countries that have reduced their driving limit to zero. This changes the message from “if you are driving only have a few drinks” to “if you are going to drink, do not bring your car.”
In addition to this limit, many countries look to a communal responsibility to help enforce the law. In Japan, when a driver is convicted of drunk driving, the entire car receives the same penalty. Also, any people drinking with the driver beforehand and even the bar face charges. Since the legal limit is zero, there is no judgment call to make. If anyone sees you take a drink it is their legal responsibility to prevent you from driving. Even if they do not, it’s a thought in the back of a potential drivers mind: did the owner see me drive away? Together, the community can create a far more effective deterrent than the police could ever hope to muster.
These two new laws may seem too harsh but they are nothing compared to the penalty a driver faces after a serious drunk driver injury. In many states, a driver who kills either a passenger or another motorist can receive a ten year prison sentence per victim. Stricter laws aimed at preventing these tragedies can help to save the driver’s life as well as the victim’s.