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The Zero Tolerance Policy on Drinking and Driving

Driving under the influence of alcohol is a persistent problem in the United States. Nearly everyone has been a victim of drunk driving in some situation, whether riding with someone drunk or knowing someone affected by the many severe consequences of drunk driving.

Statistics show that at least one in four people know someone who has been arrested for drunk driving, with over 4 million Americans admitting to drunk driving in the past. Over 10,000 people in the US die in drunk driving accidents yearly, and drunk driving accounts for nearly 30 percent of all traffic-related deaths. Because of this, all 50 states in the US have enacted a zero-tolerance policy for drinking and driving.

Zero Tolerance Policy Explained 

Zero tolerance laws have set strict rules on drinking and driving, with unforgiving and severe consequences for offenders. These have been created due to the high rates of fatalities when driving under the influence. Since 1988, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have implemented zero-tolerance laws that set a limit of 0.02 percent Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) or lower for drivers under the age of 21 and 0.08 percent for drivers over 21. Although zero-tolerance laws have been challenged based on their effectiveness, they have helped significantly reduce fatal crashes involving intoxicated young drivers. 

Public Opinion on the Zero-Tolerance Policy

The Desert Hope Treatment Center surveyed people’s thoughts on the zero-tolerance DUI policy. It was discovered that 66 percent of the subjects interviewed agreed there should be a zero-tolerance law on DUI. In addition, over 28 percent believe that DUIs are not as bad as using a cell phone while driving. 

Meanwhile, a worrisome find during the survey is that thirty-three percent of respondents are ignorant of the legal BAC level. The .08 legal BAC in most states is still enough to impair a person’s driving ability. People experience impaired perception, short-term memory loss, and reduced ability to process information at this BAC level. Moreover, nearly two thousand people lost their lives in DUI accidents – and the drivers were at the legal BAC limit.

According to the NHTSA, nearly thirty individuals die daily from DUIs, meaning one preventable DUI-related death occurs every fifty minutes. In Louisiana, any driver with a BAC above .08 percent is considered intoxicated (drunk) under the law. This evidence is all that is necessary for someone to be convicted of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) in Louisiana.

The legal consequences of drunk driving, nonetheless, this problem will likely persist as long as alcoholic beverages are legal and people drive. Although the general legal BAC limit is .08, some states, like Utah, implemented strict blood-alcohol driving limits. Utah dropped the limits from .08 to .05 breath or blood alcohol concentration, which reduced the traffic fatality rate by 18.3 percent.

Taking Responsibility

“Everyone metabolizes alcohol and becomes sober at different rates. No matter how you feel, the smartest thing to do is to avoid driving after a big drinking night.” says attorney Joseph G. Kopfler of Kopfler & Hermann.

We should remember that alcohol in the blood, regardless of the level, poses a risk to the individual and everyone else. Therefore, rather than driving when drunk or intending to get drunk, individuals should take other means of transportation.

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