Despite many efforts to reduce drunk driving, it continues to be a problem in the United States. About 10,000 people die in the United States each year due to drunk driving. In the article Drunk Driving: Why Is MADD Among Critics of Lower Alcohol Limit? , NTSB chair Deborah Hersman said in a statement “Most Americans think that we’ve solved the problem of impaired driving, but in fact, it’s still a national epidemic,” The drinking age has been raised to 21, and the legal limit was lowered to . 08 BAC.
MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) was formed by a grieving mother, SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) was founded by a teacher after two students were killed in drunk driving accidents, and many other laws have been put into place. Unfortunately, the problem persists. One effect of drunk driving is getting a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) or a DWI (Driving While Intoxicated). Receiving a DUI or DWI can result in being arrested. When someone is pulled over for suspicion of driving drunk, the officer will usually do a field sobriety test.
This consists of three tests. The first is a Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus which basically checks the reflexes of the eyes; the second is the walk-and-turn which is a “divided attention” test. It requires the suspect to listen to and follow instructions while performing simple physical movements that can be done easily by most people who are not impaired. The third test is the One Leg Stand. This test is also a “divided attention” test. It requires the suspect to stand on one leg while counting until they are told to put their leg down.
If the suspect does not pass these tests, it usually means they have a BAC of . 08 or higher. Failing the above tests and having a BAC of more than . 08 will result in arrest. There are negative effects of being arrested for drunk driving. A person who is arrested will have to appear in court and pay court fees. Being arrested for drunk driving can also result in losing one’s license, especially if they are arrested multiple times for the same thing. Lack of a driver’s license can be very inconvenient.
A person without a license will have to find other modes of transportation for work, school, doctor visits, emergencies, leisure activities, and any other time they need to get from point A to point B. If a person cannot get to work, they may lose their job. If a person drives for a living such as truck driver, taxi driver, delivery person, and mail carrier, they can lose their job. Other companies may also frown upon drunk driving, resulting in loss of employment. When a person loses their job due to drunk driving, it may be very difficult to find other employment.
There are obvious effects to not having employment. It means there is no source of income. This can lead to loss of residence. If someone owns a home, it will be difficult to pay the mortgage, electricity, and other bills; especially if that person is the main bread winner in the family. In dire situations this can lead to hunger and homelessness. Drunk driving can also result in imprisonment. This comes with the obvious disadvantage of loss of one’s freedom. It can also affect a person’s employment status. A person could lose their job due to missing too many days or because their employer does not approve.
There is also the possibility of lack of trust from the employer. If a person gets arrested for drunk driving, their employer may wonder if they have a drinking problem, if they drink on the job, and if other problems are present. They may be seen as a hazard to the company. Another effect of drunk driving is the possibility of accidents. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on road deaths in 14 states in 2010 shows that more than half of fatally injured drivers in the United States had been using alcohol or drugs. Accidents can have several effects.
There are minor accidents that can cause fender benders. These can result in damage just to the drunk driver’s vehicle; damage to others’ vehicles, and damage to public or personal property. The worst case scenarios are accidents where people are hurt or killed. In the article, “Disabling Drunk Drivers” Steve Chapman says, “When we give out driver’s licenses, we trust the recipients to use the prerogative in a wise and safe manner” (par 20). A person could cause damage to their vehicle that may not be able to be fixed. Their insurance rates could also go up.
They may not have good insurance and may not have enough coverage to purchase a new vehicle. The same could happen if they damage someone else’s vehicle. They could be sued and end up paying out a lot of money. This could result in problems with their own finances. A drunk driver could cause damage to someone’s personal property such as their yard, home, or other items that may be in their path if they have an accident. Again, this could result in arrest, tickets, court fees, and law suits. They could also damage public property such as trees, landscaping, buildings, fire hydrants, and more.
This could result in being sued by the city or town whose property was damaged. The absolute worst case scenario is that a drunk driver could kill themselves or multiple other people, such as Larry Mahoney did back in 1988. He drove drunk after spending time at a friend’s house. He had been upset about his financial situation and was consoling himself with alcohol. His friend was supposed to drive him home, but instead gave him his keys to drive himself. He promised to drive straight home which was only a quarter of a mile away.
Somehow, Mahoney ended up on a highway where a bus full of children returning from a church function was also travelling. Mahoney was driving on the wrong side of the road and crashed into the bus. The bus burst into flames. Twenty-seven children and three adults were killed in that crash. The affects of losing a loved one in such a tragic manner is devastating, especially when it is a parent that lost their child. A father of one of the victims stated that if he wanted to spend Christmas with his son, he would have to visit him at the cemetery.
There are many people who need therapy after such tragedies, and some never get over the loss. Many will be very angry at the person who drove drunk. In the case of Larry Mahoney, families of the victims were angry because he only received sixteen years in prison. They did not feel that this was a steep enough punishment. They felt that he made a deliberate choice to get behind the wheel after drinking. Another effect is how things are seen through the eyes of the person who was driving while drunk.
If they seriously injure or hurt someone, they will have to live with that regret and guilt for the rest of their life. In an article, Larry Mahoney stated that he wished he was the one who died in the crash. They will also likely spend a good amount of time in jail. This obviously leads to a very poor quality of life. They would lose their job, their freedom, the closeness of family, and hope for the future. If a person is imprisoned for injuring or killing someone while driving drunk, their family will suffer as well.
They will in a sense lose that person since they will not be living in their home anymore. If the person is a parent, their children will suffer and will have to be raised by only one parent. If they are married, their spouse will suffer and have to do everything alone. They will also suffer financially if the person in jail was a contributor to the household. The family would also have to live with the fact that their loved one hurt or killed another person. That can be very damaging to the dynamic of the family.
Finally, a person who drives while drunk could kill themselves. They would lose their own life. This would hurt everyone that loves them. It would hurt emotionally, mentally, and financially. There are so many negative effects that stem from drunk driving. It is costly in several ways. Drunk driving can tear families apart, hurt innocent people, and claim lives. There is much to lose when one chooses to get behind the wheel drunk. Despite all the efforts that are made by law makers, individuals, and groups, drunk driving continues to plague the United States.
Courtney from Study Moose
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