“This year, 10,839 people will die in drunk-driving crashes - one every 50 minutes” (NHTSA). Sadly two of my friends have become part of this statistic that was produced in 2009. Drunk driving is a worldwide problem that is very prominent in the United States. The large number in deaths through the past years has made driving under the influence a major social issue. Drunk driving has had a long history, with deaths comparable to wars, but can be prevented. This illegal activity can easily be averted by exploiting drunken driving as a danger to younger generations, by bringing more attention to the subject using ads and television and by the stigma that it carries.
The first count of drunk driving occurred in 1897 when a New York taxi cab slammed into the side of a building. This provoked the first driving under the influence laws to be written in New York City in 1910. During the 1920’s the United States government banned alcohol because of its illicit effects to the nation’s public. Not until 1933 did the United States add the 21st amendment to the constitution which ratified the 18th amendment which banned prohibition. As the Industrial Revolution came to a close, cars became a part of everyday life, and that’s when driving under the influence became a known social issue.
Most people are not educated on the laws involving drinking and driving and the consequences that follow. In the United States it is against the law to drive over the legal limit of a blood alcohol level of 0.8 or higher. The consequences of drunk driving result in, up to $500 in fines, 50 hours of community service, up to 6 months in jail and a suspended license from 180 days up to a year for a first time offence (DUI Consequences). Also, after all of your lawyer fees, the cost of getting a DUI could cost up to $5,000. If a fatal crash resulted from an intoxicated driver, that driver could also be charged with involuntary manslaughter. These consequences are steep, and some people don’t realize how dependent they are on their car. Some cities do not have sophisticated public transportation systems, and cabs fees are not cheap. As a result of not being able to drive, a job could be lost or a parent would not be able to take their children to school. Jail sentences can end, but the detrimental loss of life is everlasting.
Today, police officers are on the lookout for anyone who may be driving while impaired. They look for anyone driving with their lights off, if they’re swerving or driving erratically. If you are pulled over and found to be driving over the legal limit you will have to submit to a breathalyzer test, if you refuse you will be assumed guilty and be taken to jail.
Drunk driving has become a phenomenon in the social media world. Because of the high amount of drunk drivers each day, television producers are able to make television programs specifically about drunk driving. “Adults drank too much and got behind the wheel about 112 million times in 2010—that is almost 300,000 incidents of drinking and driving each day” (CDC). Shows like COPS and Speeders exploit intoxicated Americans driving recklessly at the wheel. If there are enough people driving drunk to fill a whole hour long television show there is a major flaw in our transportation system that needs to be fixed.
“Researchers estimate that there is just one drunken-driving arrest for every 80 to 300 trips taken by drunken drivers” (WSJ). This statement should be a red flag to anyone who has their license. The fact that a person can drive while intoxicated almost 100 times before being pulled over is shocking. We shouldn’t have to risk our own lives because someone else is not being responsible with their own. Many of those who were found at fault are alcoholics, and a