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Stronger Punishment For Dui Offenders Will Lower Alcohol Related Fatalities

1327 words - 6 pages

Remember the 2996 people, mostly civilians that died on September 11th 2001. Remember the 797 soldiers that have given their lives to protect us here at home, not to mention the 4,524 U.S. troops wounded in action. These numbers equal only one quarter of the people that are killed on our roads each year from people Driving Under the Influence (DUI) of alcohol. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA, 2003) America experienced the largest percentage increase in alcohol-related traffic deaths on record. 17,401 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes - an average of one every half-hour. Simple math tells me that 48 people a day die from accidents ...view middle of the document...

47 out of 50 states have adopted the 0.08 as the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level, one not abiding is our neighbor, Colorado. In October 2000, as part of the FY 2001 federal appropriations bill, a provision was enacted making .08 BAC the national standard for impaired driving. States that have not adopted .08 BAC laws by FY 2004 (October 1, 2003) will have certain highway construction funds withheld. As of March 2004, Colorado, Delaware and Minnesota have not enacted the law and are subject to financial penalties. Taking money from the states dose not cure the epidemic. Allowing Law Enforcement officer to enforce unified alcohol concentrations levels will remove drunk drivers from our highways.Many individuals who are arrested for DUI are never convicted or even tried for their crime. A NHTSA study identified defendants failing to appear (FTA) at court as a contributing factor in this adjudication problem. As of this date there is no federal prosecution standard that states whether a DUI offender must be prosecuted under drunk driving violations or be allowed to submit an appeal to a lesser charge such as "Reckless or Careless and Imprudent Driving." These lesser charges result in no jail time, reduced monetary fines and no driving restrictions. These situations weaken the deterrence effect of DUI arrests - offenders learn that they can drive impaired and not face the consequences for their illegal and dangerous actions. Due to lack of guidance from federal lawmakers, 40 States have adopted an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) law that gives state officials the authority to suspend administratively the license of any driver who fails or refuses to take a BAC test. While notice of the suspension is given immediately, a temporary permit to drive is usually issued. The permit is valid for 7-45 days, depending on the state. During that time, the accused person can appeal through administrative channels. If no appeal is filed, the license is suspended automatically for a prescribed period of time. The only support resembling any federal prosecution standard came when the Supreme Court ruled in Mackey v. Montrym that ALR does not violate due process rights. This law at least allows us to remove a driver from the road for a short time, but does nothing to increase prosecution.As responsible Americans it is our duty to incite our federally elected officials to enact a law that mandates minimum punishment standards for drivers found operating their vehicle under the influence.41 % of all fatal vehicle accidents occurring in the United States are a result of drivers under the influence. In a report published by NHTSA titled "DUI Laws In Other Countries, Dot Hs 809 037 (Mar 00) the countries known to be tough on first...

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