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Why We Need Tougher DUI Laws in The United States Essay

There are many reasons that the laws for DUI need to be tougher in The United States of America. The ones that are of greatest concern are the death rates due to DUI offenses, the cost of these offenses and the repeat offender rate. The best way to combat these offenses is to make the fines larger, make the prison sentences stricter and make it harder for the offender to get their license reinstated after an arrest for DUI. The law for DUI’s is not strict enough we need tougher DUI laws in The United States of America.

Driving in The United States of America can be risky there is one death every twenty-two minutes because of a DUI accident. Americans rank drunk driving as their No.1 highway safety concern. (All-state- MADD survey, 1997) Approximately 1.5 million drivers were arrested in 1999 for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. This is an arrest rate of one for every 121 licensed drivers in the United States. (NHTSA, 2000) Drunken driving deaths have reached a plateau. Preliminary alcohol-related traffic fatality statistics show that 16,652 people have dies on the roadways in 2001. (NHTSA, 2002) According to reports done by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) there are an estimated 512,000 injuries to people accidents every year in an alcohol-related accident, if averaged out that is 59 people every hour, also come out to be approximately one person every minute.

The driver, pedestrian, or both were intoxicated in 41 percent of all fatal pedestrian crashes in 2001. In these crashes, the intoxication rate for pedestrians was more than double the rate for drivers; that is 33 percent and 15 percent, respectively, according to the NHTSA. Both the pedestrian and the driver were intoxicated in 6 percent of the crashes that resulted in a pedestrian fatality. One report done in 2001 showed that 80% of (11,802) of the 14,706 drivers who had a BAC of 0.01 or higher were involved in fatal accidents had BACs above the 0.08 that is considered legally drunk. (NHTSA)There are also reports showing that one out of every ten people, at some point in their life, will be involved in an alcohol-related accident. To combat these statistics we need to make the laws stricter, we can do this by make the mandatory minimum fines for the first offense $5,000 and a mandatory sentence for the first offense a five-year prison sentence with each consecutive offense also carrying a mandatory minimum sentence of an additional five year prison sentences.

The cost that these DUI’s are causing is an immense economic toll on the United States and its citizens. Every year, alcohol-related crashes cost the United States of America and estimated $16 billion. (John E. Fisher, Nationwide Insurance) Who will pay for this expense? We all will be paying if we do nothing to stop it. According to Mr. John E. Fisher who is the General Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Nationwide Insurance, this comes to the tune of $31,000 a minute. Mr. Fisher is quoted as saying, “by reducing drunken driving by just 10% in the United States we could save 2,500 lives each year, prevent 70,000 injuries and reduce societal cost by more than $1 billion.” Preliminary research for the year 2000 shows that alcohol-related crashes cost the public and estimated $114.7 billion annually, and this includes an estimated $63.9 billion lost in quality of life due to these crashes. (Ted Miller, 2002) It is estimated that the societal cost of alcohol-related crashes is approximately 80 cents per drink consumed. (Ted Miller, 1999)

According to another source “crashes in 1993 involving drivers with BACs between .08% and .099% cost society $4.6 billion, including $130 million in medical spending. Every vehicle mile traveled at this BAC cost $2.50, including $.80 to people other than the drunk driver. (Miller et al, 1996b) The consequences of excessive drinking extend beyond crashes. Overall, excessive drinking cost people, other than the drinkers, $135 billion annually, of this alcohol attributable amount, $51 billion is due to crashes; $60 billion is due to other violence and the remainder to chronic illness and other alcohol-abuse problems. (Miller et al, 1996a, 1996b) Crash costs average $5.80 per mile driven drunk.

By comparison, driving a mile sober imposes only $.10 in crash cost. (Miller et al, PIRE, 1999) Something must be done to counteract these absorbent amounts, by putting more of the cost on the shoulders of the offender we can free up some of societies money for them to use on other things. We can make the fines more appropriate for example for the first offense make the fines $5000 plus restitution. That way the offenders are paying more of the cost than society ends up paying. Of course we also need to address other issues of DUI convictions, and they range from death to repeat offender problems.

The repeat offender is a very dangerous type of driver; they are the committed heavy drinkers, who will continue to drive as long as they have vehicles. (James Harney, USA Today Newspaper, 1992) While there are no national statistics on repeat offenders, authorities say they’re responsible for a disproportionate share of incidents. In Ohio, for example, 32% of drunken drivers are repeaters, responsible for 55% of all drunken driving convictions. (Harney, USA Newspaper, 1992) In most cases, fatally injured drivers with a BAC level of 0.08 or more were 10 times as likely to have more than one prior conviction of DUI compared to the fatally injured sober drivers, that is approximately 10 percent and 1 percent. In a report issued by AAA in July 2000, drivers whose licenses were suspended or revoked and were involved in one-fifth of all the fatal automobile crashes between the year’s 1993-1997, killing more than 42,000 people. Over half of those drivers were under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident. (USA Today, 7/12/00) Last year alone in the United States, there were two alcohol-related traffic deaths per hour that is 45 deaths a day and 315 deaths every week.

That is the equivalent of two jetliners crashing with no survivors every week of the year. A 1994 study found that fatally-injured drivers in alcohol-related crashes were eight times more likely to have had DUI convictions in the previous five years than randomly selected form the general population of licensed drivers. However, a study published in the Sept 1998 issue of Public Health Reports suggest a promising new approach for controlling the menace of convicted drunk driving offenders. The study shows the effectiveness of a Maine law lowering the illegal BAC limit from .10 percent to .05 percent for people previously convicted of drunk driving.

The solutions to these problems are not always easy to find and it’s not always easy to get the laws we need passed, but there are solutions. (MADD, Driven Magazine, Fall 1998) We need to make it harder on these repeat offenders by making the blood alcohol limit lower for repeat offenders, we need to make the sentencing guidelines tougher by giving them longer prison sentences after the second offense. The repeat offender needs to have more consequences than a first time offender, and by making it tougher on them they will think before getting behind the wheel when they are under the influence in the future.

The laws for people who drink and drive is not strict enough. There are too many deaths due to people drinking and getting behind the wheel and driving. The costs of these offenses are skyrocketing and coming out of the taxpayer pockets, and the offenders are not taking the law seriously enough because they are repeating the same crimes continuously over and over again. The statistics are proof that there is a major problem in the United States with DUI’s and that some things need to change drastically. We need to make the laws tougher by giving them larger fines, and longer prison sentences to first time offenders and make the repeat offender do mandatory sentences of twice as long as the first time offenders sentence, and there needs to be a lower blood alcohol level for the repeat offender and a higher consequence for the repeat offender.

As long as we do nothing these people that are causing major pain and suffering for others and for themselves will continue to do the same things over again and again; drink and drive. We must come together and pass laws that will discourage the thoughts of ‘I can get away with it again’ or the thoughts of ‘Its ok if I get caught drinking and driving, it’s just a slap on the hand’. The longer that we do nothing the more it will cost the citizens of the United States, so for all of us in America we must take a stand and stand strong on our beliefs that drinking and driving is too dangerous to allow.


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