The Influence of Drunk Driving Laws

Drunk driving is one of the most devastating activities, with more than 11,000 fatalities and numerous injuries and property damage resulting from it each year in the United States alone. There are many laws aimed at reducing the incidence of driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol, with the ultimate goal of keeping both drivers and the public safe. While these laws have been successful in decreasing DUI-related deaths and injuries, the effects of these laws on public safety and how they affect different populations must be studied.

In order to begin to assess the influence of drunk driving laws, it is important to consider the differences between per se laws and administrative laws. Per se laws refer to specific legal offenses that result in suspended or revoked licenses when a driver violates them. Administrative laws, on the other hand, allow for officers to arrest drivers at their discretion if they suspect them of DUI-related activities.

Per se laws have been successful in decreasing the prevalence of drunk driving. Many states have implemented and enforced regulations concerning DUI as well as set minimum blood alcohol content (BAC) levels for drivers. Studies have shown that the introduction of these laws has cut drunk driving fatalities by an average of 10 to 14 percent. As a result, the number of DUI-related fatalities and injuries in the United States has decreased.

However, research suggests that these laws may have a disparate impact on certain demographics. Minorities are arrested at disproportionately high rates for DUI, while white drivers are often arrested at lower rates. This could be due to several factors, including racial profiling or a lack of awareness among the law enforcement community of the severity of DUI offenses. Furthermore, certain legal thresholds set in per se laws could be ineffective; for example, some states are relying on ancient scientific data to determine their BAC levels for enforcement of DUI laws and are consistently one step behind on the scientific evidence.

In addition to per se laws, state and local governments have had success in implementing and enforcing administrative laws. These are laws that allow officers to stop drivers and measure their BAC levels in order to determine if they are driving while intoxicated. Such laws can prove to be much more effective than per se laws, as they target the broader issue of drunk driving and they are able to be tailored to encompass a wide range of behaviors.

Overall, the effects of drunk driving laws on public safety are mixed. While laws such as per se laws and administrative laws have had a positive effect in decreasing drunk driving, there is still much more work to be done. The enforcement of these laws as well as other policies such as improved enforcement and increased public awareness of the dangers of drunk driving should continue in order to ensure that more drivers are kept off American roads while under the influence. It is also essential to address some of the inequities that have resulted from the implementation of these laws in order to ensure that they are effective in protecting everyone on the roads and not just certain groups of people.