Is Drunk Driving the most easily Preventable Traffic Risk?

We know that every day, 30 people die in the United States from a drunk-driving related incident. It’s a serious problem. But can we really consider it the most easily preventable traffic risk? What about falling asleep on the wheel, or speeding, or automotive failure? What about driving while under the influence of drugs?

The thing is, actions like speeding and unsteady driving more often than not are signs of driving while intoxicated. Driving while one’s abilities are impaired by drugs, legal or illegal, are also handled under the same parameters as a New York DWI charge.

Driving While Intoxicated is a much more serious matter than driving under distractions or fatigue. In essence, fatigue causes a reduction in mental faculties similar to drunk driving, but it is much more difficult to control as a subjective value depending on people’s build, age, willpower, and road conditions.

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Drunk Driving is Socially Unacceptable

There is a strange dichotomy under law that while it is illegal to drive while drunk, it is not illegal to drive after drinking. The first resort of a New York DWI lawyer is proving that while there may be alcohol in the bloodstream, it did not impair their client’s ability to drive. However, it will be difficult to find sympathy afterwards.

The media’s efforts at combating drunk driving at all levels has shown measurable impact in the incidence of drunk driving fatalities, most importantly from the “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk” campaign. In more practical terms, employers find a drunk driving record as a sign of irresponsibility, and citizens tend to see it as a sign of hypocrisy in public officials and role models.

How effective is the Punitive Policy?

Anti-Drunk Driving Laws are harsh for the sake of deterrence. Drivers are made to consider that the chances of getting away with DWI are low, and that whatever time and hassle they save in trying to drive home after a few drinks is vastly out of proportion from the criminal and economic penalties they’ll face in the morning.

However, any person drunk enough to feel confident that they’re not a danger to themselves and others on the freeway is also likely to feel confident enough to think they’ll avoid being arrested by the police. Deterrence may be enough to discourage those drivers who still retain most of their judgment, but incidences of habitual drunk drivers reduce only slowly.

Harsh penalties only work insofar as potential drunk drivers are aware of them in advance, and even more stringent punishments may in fact serve little more than institutional cruelty past a certain point. This is why New York DWI lawyers and others (including behavioral scientists) oppose the idea of lowering the BAC legal limit again to 0.05%. This is predicted to only increase the caseload in the already overbundened courts without reducing the incidences of aggravated DWI, which actually cause the most roadside fatalities.

Physical Means of Combating DWI

Just as speeding can be monitored by speed traps and patrols, so does DWI prevention rely mainly on officers on the road to pull over drivers who exhibit signs of impairment. Unlike speeding and wearing seat belts, which can only be corrected after the fact, DWI prevention also has proactive measures to prevent drunk driving.

Sobriety checkpoints have been challenged as unconstitutional, but either way the Supreme Court has already decided in a 1990 ruling that being stopped in a DUI roadblock does not impinge on a person’s Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable senses and seizures.

Ignition interlock devices outright prevent the motor from starting when there’s any alcohol detected in the breath of the driver. Trying to bypass the ignition interlock is not only another crime, but unlikely to work for long because the device also asks for re-tests at random after starting. While the court may impose the installation of one as part of the requirements for probation, parents may also have one installed at their own discretion for their children’s cars.

In extreme cases, a Secure Continous Remote Alcohol Monitor (SCRAM) device may be compulsory. Bracelet or ankle monitor similar to those used for house arrest (and in fact, is also usable for that purpose), it tests the wearer’s perspiration for traces of alcohol every 30 minutes and automatically reports of any violations and the user’s location on GPS.