Drinking and Driving Cases of Term Paper

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A number of states follow sobriety roadblock rules while some states like Minnesota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin etc. have avoided sobriety roadblock techniques and their technique has been general patrolling.

Minimum Legal Drinking Age: Minimum legal drinking age has been the topic of debate in this country. In the past minimum legal drinking age was reduced to 18, 19, or 20 in some states. With reducing the minimum legal drinking age the issue of drunk driving and road accident surfaced. In the year 1984 legislation was made to counter this issue and Uniform Drinking Age Act which made the legal age back to 21 and imposed restrictions on states that did not raise their minimum legal drinking age back to 21. As result of this legislation all the states had their minimum legal drinking age as 21. "Those supporting the age-21 policy are not Prohibitionists. They are not interested in outlawing all alcohol consumption for adults and are not interested in putting the alcohol industry out of business. They are interested in protecting youth and the safety of all citizens in our communities by supporting implementation and enforcement of the law that states that it is illegal to sell alcohol to those under the age of 21. They are interested in protecting property and reducing the costs spent on health care and crime. These are goals shared by most of the public, and research shows that if we can reduce youth access to alcohol, we can help achieve these goals" (Toomey & Wagenaar, 2002).

Debate on Legislation

Whether or not the alcohol should be prohibited is a very controversial subject. There are people who support complete ban on alcohol while others adopt a different point-of-view.

Critics argue that drinking cannot be made illegal. They argue that alcohol consumption could become an addiction but people do not commit crimes to get alcohol because it is legal and affordable to many. So, when prohibtion on alcohol ended black market alcohol profits also dwindled because of the availability of low-priced alcohol.

Experts suggest that laws should be made in a way that they work to reduce the harms and dangers rather than eliminating them completely. According to critics too harsh or too idealistic legislations do not help as there cannot be a state of Utopia in real world. 100% crime control is not possible anywhere. So, the lawmakers should consider reduction in crimes a target rather than eliminating them while making legislations. It would be very naive on lawmakers' part to assume that laws could completely abolish crimes from the country. For example a law cannot be made that bans all teenage parties or overnight gatherings to control drunken driving. Laws cannot rid teenagers of safe fun that they want to have. Law can be made in a way that cautions them without hurting their fun and frolicking. "To make matters worse, State University of New York's Hanson says, zero tolerance alcohol programs or efforts to make campuses virtually alcohol-free have a funny way of backfiring. 'Prohibition is a classic example of how the laws in these matters can end up being counterproductive by actually making the thing that is being prohibited more attractive. That remains especially true for young people who don't like to be told what not to do. 'And when that happens,' says Hanson, 'young people very often find themselves involved in these dangerous events centered around heavy episodic drinking, which is the very last thing we want to see happen" (Boulard, 2005).


Different methods like psychosurgery, psychoanalysis, self-help, acupuncture, family therapy, hypnosis, medication to meditation have been adopted to fight the menace of alcohol abuse. Whatever the reasons of getting addicted are, getting addicts back to sobriety is the main aim of all such programs. If they are not brought back to normalcy then terrible social and medical consequences await their fates. Therefore different solutions are suggested and proposals are made to address the issue. Only government and its laws cannot deal with this problem. States, communities, families and individuals will have to play their roles.

Responsible Lawmaking

Laws are supposed to curtail the problem while in reality they create more problems. For example zero tolerance policies and laws have led to the harassment of even those individuals who have had a glass of wine with the dinner. This also led to the diversion of police attention from binge drinkers to all drinkers. People generally go to restaurants, bars, clubs, parties and have a drink or two and then of course they have to drive back home or wherever they want to go. Even cops who search people for drunk driving during duty hours also get to drink or two after their regular duty hours. The laws should make a difference between social drinking and excessive drinking. This may also cause police to keep their focus on drunk driving. "Furthermore, too much of the discussion about alcohol in this country reflects prohibitionist fervor rather than scientific fact. We act as if alcohol were a vice, a degenerate habit that can-at best-be tolerated. In reality, it does not need to be apologized for. Alcohol has been a valuable part of Western culture for thousands of years. It can be abused, sure, but it can inspire as well as intoxicate, illuminate as well as irritate. In excess, the demon drink merits its nickname; in moderation, it can be good for you" (Stuttaford, 2001).

The question that lawmakers should consider is about the thresholds and the limits at which to catch people. Also they should consider the intrusion that security and duty personnel can make in the private lives of all citizens. They cannot go on a spree of checking everyone. Some people want a complete ban and look for the lowest thresholds and more searching and intrusion. This cannot be considered responsible lawmaking if they attempt to keep on lowering the thresholds. Lawmaking cannot be done on extremes. For example some people suggest that youngsters drink anyways so minimum drinking age could be lowered. Drinking cannot be legalized for minors.

Consideration for Resources: Responsible lawmaking and practical approach could also result in better utilization of states' precious resources. Many resources are being used to counter the problems highlighted by laws that is most of the times are funded by public money or taxes. Implementation of these laws requires infrastructure, personnel and money. A cost benefit analysis should be carried out before passing legislations. Just passing legislation is an easy task but what follows could be a drain on government resources. At times such laws have proved to be futile in terms of results.

Sensible Advertising: When the lawmaking is responsible then proper advertisement can also help in tackling the issues. The stern stance in ads that if you drink and then drive then it will be dangerous may not make sense and would not appeal the population but an ad with a massage about limits could really help the cause. "Current bus ads stating, 'Know your limits and the law. Drink and Drive responsibly' as compared to the prohibitionist 'You Drink & Drive. You lose' slogan shows change. These changes in attitude seem to be marking the return of the pendulum from a radical 'zero tolerance' stance. The 'Drink and Drive Responsibly' message acknowledges the distinction between the 40 million Americans who responsibly consume adult beverages and the product abusers who routinely reach high BACs and then dangerously take to the highways" ('Drink & Drive', 2005).

Responsibility of States: Generalization of laws to all does not work in most situations. In some states certain ways and mannerisms work better than the other. Applying the same rule on all states could not really work. State should be given the responsibility of choosing the right set of laws and programs to combat the menace of drunk driving. Every state has different challenges to counter and so they should be allowed to tailor laws according to their circumstances. "A number of states have established innovative state laws to reduce underage drinking and driving. In Arkansas, courts collect an additional $5 fine for every moving traffic violation and use the money to fund programs about drunk driving for junior and senior high school students. The California Legislature adopted the Youthful Drunk Driver Visitation Program, which requires underage drunk drivers to participate in supervised visits to emergency rooms or county morgue facilities. The program has an excellent history of discouraging repeat offenders and has been copied in Florida, Illinois and Iowa" (Mejeur, 1999).

Controlling Distribution

One way of countering the problem of illegal drinking is making a check on distributors. Though there are already laws in place in different states that control distribution of alcohol to minors but still more checks are required. For instance laws could be made by different states to suspend the licenses of those who are found selling to minors without getting to see their identification. Compliance checks are a useful way of dealing with the issue.…[continue]

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