Despite a steep decline in DUI-related fatalities over nearly four decades, drunk drivers still continue to pose a threat to public safety.
For some people, driving under the influence of alcohol may be an isolated incident. For others, it's habitual, even when they are aware of the obvious risks.
This raises the question: can repeat drunk driving be prevented? A newly passed California law and a proposal for individualized treatment may offer hope. Here's how.
California mandates ignition interlock devices for all drunk driving offenders
After facing the legal consequences of drunk driving, some first-time offenders may be deterred from repeating the behavior. For many other DUI offenders, however, the legal consequences of paying fines, serving jail time, and enduring a waiting period to restore driving privileges aren't enough to prevent further drunk driving.
That's where ignition interlock devices (IIDs) may be effective at curtailing drunk driving. Previously, only repeat DUI offenders and certain first-time offenders were required to have IIDs installed in their cars. Under a new state law, however, IIDs now apply to all DUI offenders.
An IID is wired into a car's electronic system. In order for the driver to start the car, he or she would have to blow into the device — which is about the size of a cellphone. If alcohol is detected on a driver's breath, the car won't start.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, IIDs have prevented about 70 percent of repeat DUI offenses.
Inclusive treatment for high-risk impaired drivers
Installing IIDs may help prevent further DUI offenses to an extent. Those who generally struggle with alcohol addiction or substance abuse may still have the propensity to re-offend, even years after a conviction. Ensuring that high-risk impaired drivers (HRIDs) don't get behind the wheel while drunk or drugged in the future, a more inclusive approach may be necessary. That's what the Governors Highway Safety Administration (GHSA) has proposed to State Highway Safety Offices across the nation in their latest report High-Risk Impaired Drivers: Combating a Critical Threat.
According to the GHSA, repeat DUI offenders are responsible for one-third of all alcohol-related traffic fatalities. The nonprofit safety advocacy group seeks to identify the underlying cause of impaired driving among HRIDs. Then, offer inclusive treatment to help prevent HRIDs from repeating the same behavior again in the future, thus, saving lives.
This inclusive approach would apply to drivers:
- With a history of DUI convictions
- Caught with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.15 percent or greater
- Found to have both alcohol and drugs in their system
The GHSA was joined by alcohol-responsibility group Responsibility.org, whose president and CEO Chris Swonger discusses the importance of this program.
“Right now, our approach is to catch, convict and punish the high-risk impaired drivers and then release them. It’s a cookie-cutter approach that doesn’t treat the underlying problem,” said Swonger. “Instead, we need to identify the root cause of each individual’s behavior and then determine what treatment along with sanctions should be administered so that we break this cycle and prevent impaired driving deaths.”
Drunk driving crashes call for strong legal action
If you were hurt in a crash with a drunk driver, the odds may be stacked against you. You may be wondering how you will afford to pay for medical expenses and lost wages while you're unable to work. The insurance companies will likely avoid compensating you. This, even if there is hard evidence showing that the at-fault driver was drunk at the time of the crash.
That's why your best course of action is to consult with an experienced Costa Mesa car accident attorney as soon as possible. For more than 40 years, the Law Offices of Daniel C. Carlton has successfully handled drunk driving cases and helped crash victims maximize their compensation. Contact us online today to find out how we can help you.