Driving is a privilege Americans have been afforded since the invention of the automobile in the late 1800’s. Yet with great power comes great responsibility. One of the responsibilities associated with being able to drive several tons of metal at high speeds is the responsibility of doing so without any distractions or impairments. Choosing to drive drunk puts not only the driver in danger, but also everyone else in the car and on the road. Currently, the average drunk driver will drive eighty times before getting caught by the police (1). On average, one third of all people will be involved in a drunk driving accident during the course of their lifetimes (7). Whereas driving drunk once can be seen as a mistake and a one-time lapse in judgment, choosing to recklessly ignore the law and the safety of others is a serious offense against society. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that one in three persons arrested for drunk driving are repeat offenders (2).
Alcohol is causing too many deaths. Each year, excessive drinking is responsible for the deaths of 80,000 people in the United States, 4,700 of which are young Americans (6). Alcohol by itself is dangerous; this danger is (made greater) when individuals consuming it are allowed to drive a vehicle. Research has shown that a pedestrian struck by a vehicle moving at 40 miles an hour has a fifty percent chance of getting killed as a result of the impact (9). A distracted or impaired driver will not be able to react as fast as a non-impaired driver, meaning a drunk driver is a more dangerous driver than a sober one.
Another problem lawmakers face in their attempt to lower the harm caused by drunk drivers is that simply lowering the blood alcohol content for a DUI does not work. Research has shown that a lower BAC and prosecuting more people for smaller crimes does not reduce the number of drunk drivers on the road (5). Therefore, lawmakers are left with the difficult problem of figuring out how to keep drunk drivers off the roads without imposing severe freedom-infringing penalties.
I propose the Illinois General Assembly institute tougher drunk driving laws based on the BAC that is currently used to define driving while intoxicated (0.08). France reduced its drunk driving mortality rate by 38% by instituting tougher driving laws, including reducing the speed limit and enacting tougher drunk driving laws. Illinois should take a similar approach and make its drunk driving laws stricter so reduce the number of people injured and killed on its roads.
In order to protect children from drunk drivers, any person found driving with a BAC higher than .08 and with children passengers would automatically have their license suspended for two months, plus a $2,000 fine. If a driver’s second DUI conviction also involves children passengers, that person’s car would automatically be seized by the law enforcement agency conducting the arrest. In addition, if a person is guilty of...