Drunk Driving in the US


Drunk driving continues to become a huge challenge globally. The major problem related to drunk driving is that it endangers the lives of both the driver and the passengers. Reports indicate that accidents are the largest cause of unintentional deaths and injuries in the United States (Light et al. 1448). Such accidents have largely been attributed to alcohol consumption prior to driving, with the study indicating that close to 40% of the US population are involved in accidents due to drunk driving (Light et al. 1450). Driving while drunk is a common malpractice amongst the young people. According to the report, more than 20% of those that die due to accidents caused by drunk driving are the young people aged between 16 and 21 years. The report further indicates that every two hours, three people die because of highway crashes caused by drunk driving (Meesmann et al. 252). With the current notion that has made alcohol overwhelmingly accepted as a key facilitator of sociable interaction, overcoming drunk driving is a hard task. This paper will, therefore, discuss the effects of alcohol on the drivers and suggest some intervention mechanisms against drunk driving.

Effects of Alcohol on Drivers

Alcohol is a substance that, when consumed, reduces the functionality of the brain by impairing muscle coordination, thinking, and reasoning capability. All the mentioned abilities are quite crucial in the operation of machinery; thus, their impairment causes detrimental effects. One of the most significant demerits of alcohol is that it affects a person’s ability to divert attention from one event to the other. Even in situations where a drunk person can shift their attention, their senses are largely affected by the fact that alcohol inhibits the functionality of sensory motors (Meesmann et al. 253). Drunk individuals have a very narrow scope of usable vision compared to those who are sober. This is quite dangerous because once the eyes receive the information, it is moved to the brain for processing. Not having a clear vision, therefore, means that the drivers cannot make the best decisions while on the road. Alcohol, when taken in large quantities, causes exaggerated behavior amongst the drivers, which can include overspeeding and paying less attention to the traffic laws. With the improvement of infrastructure by the authorities in many states, over speeding amongst the motorists continue to be on the rise. Reports, however, indicate that more than 30% of overspeeding cases in the United States are caused by excessive consumption of alcohol (Meesmann et al. 255). In efforts to reduce the effects of alcohol on the drivers, several testing measures have been developed in efforts to judge whether one can drive or not. Such mechanisms include tests on the hand-eye coordination and tracking tasks.

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Traits of the Drunk Drivers

Despite the uniqueness of different people or situation, scholars have argued that the drunk drivers present some common characteristics. Such characteristics. according to Meesmann et al., include depression, low assertiveness, introversion, inhibition, and anxiety (254). The drunk drivers also present an antisocial behavior and become irritated easily. Although they are rarely diagnosed with the antisocial personality trait (ASPD), most of them present low emotional adjustment and impulsivity.

The female drivers present various traits common among the drunk drivers. Individuals practicing drunk driving also share a commonality in that many of them were underprivileged while growing up when compared to the overall population of those who drive (Meesmann et al. 255). The feeling of not having equal opportunities in the society drove many people into excessive drinking due to depression. The uniqueness of drunk drivers derives from the fact that despite the heavy penalties associated with this offense, they continue to break the law.

Measures against Drunk Driving

Many countries have developed legislations against cases of drunk driving. Such laws, commonly referred to as consent laws, are applicable in all the 50 states in the US. The rules require all the drivers to heed the breath alcohol test, field sobriety test, and any other custody or roadside examinations conducted by the authorities tasked with that duty (Grant et al. 15). The implied consent laws are accompanied by a range of consequences when broken. Such consequences include suspension of the driver’s license and fines. States such as California have increased the penalty associated with drunk driving offenses to a $1,000 fine or not less than one year in jail (Meesmann et al. 259). Others states have also taken a more proactive role in promoting the applicability of the implied consent through coming up with legislation that imposes criminal penalties when such rules are broken. Installation of the ignition interlock devices is another measure that has been adopted by various states in order to curb drunk driving. The interlock device is connected to the vehicle ignition system and detects whether the driver is drunk or not. The system is programmed in such a way that the vehicle will not start until the driver blows into it and has an alcoholic content below the limit set.

Media campaigns aimed at promoting awareness on the dangers of drunk driving have been widely used around the globe. Such suggest possible alternatives for the drunk drivers, such as looking for a friend that is not drunk or calling a taxi. According to Grant et al., the drunk driving campaign and enforcement measures, such as the Zero Tolerance Rules, have so far created a significant positive outcome (19). The percentage of alcohol-related accidents has reduced drastically over the last ten years from 50.6% to 30% (Light et al. 1452). The adoption of the 0.08 blood alcohol concentration limit for judging whether one is drunk or not in all the states, including Puerto Rico and District of Columbia, can also be largely attributed to the decline in alcohol-related accidents. From the report, alcohol consumption causes about 48% of pedestrian deaths and 40% of vehicle occupant fatalities (Meesmann et al. 259). The pedestrians are, therefore, the most vulnerable group when it comes to accidents; thus, there is a need for more interventions to be developed.


In conclusion, drinking and driving are among the dangerous activities one can indulge in. The lives of many people have been ended and destroyed due to drunk driving. This makes this malpractice be socially unacceptable reality; hence, it must be fought and condemned in the strongest terms possible. Besides the laws and the interventions by the authorities, there is still a need for the people to realize that fighting drunk driving is an affair of each and every person. With the help of the new legislation and the continued sensitization to the dangers of drunk driving, the number of accidents should be minimized in the future.


Works Cited

Grant, Darren. “A Structural Analysis of US Drunk Driving Policy.” International Review of Law and Economics, vol. 45, 2016, pp.14-22.

Light, Michael T., et al. “Undocumented Immigration, Drug Problems, and Driving under the Influence in the United States, 1990–2014.” American Journal of Public Health, vol. 107, no. 9, 2017, pp.1448-1454.

Meesmann, Uta, et al. “Impact of Alcohol Checks and Social Norm on Driving under the Influence of Alcohol (DUI).” Accident Analysis & Prevention, vol. 80, 2015, pp.251-261.

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