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Drunk Driving Deterrents: Are They Working?

May 23, 2011

Alcohol-impaired driving is still a significant public-safety problem in the United States, resulting in 17,000 auto accidents per year. If drunk drivers perceive that they will be stopped or arrested for what they do, the presumption is that they will be less likely to engage in this exceedingly risky behavior.

However, a survey of available data indicates that some preventative measures are more effective than others at reducing drunk driving-related accidents.

Zero tolerance laws that became prevalent in the 1990s do not seem to work when it comes to drunk driving. Studies have shown that drunk driving rates remain identical when comparing drunk driving rates two years before and two years after enactment of such measures. The premise of these laws is that anyone under 21 with a measurable amount of alcohol in their system could be punished.

A measure that has been shown to be more effective is administrative license suspensions (ALS). While criminal license suspension laws have had almost no effect on drunk driving, administrative laws and their ability to impose virtually immediate punishment has proven to be effective at deterring drunk driving.

What has been shown is that the timing of a sanction is more significant than the severity of the sanction. Most people do not want to lose their driver's license. A driver’s license is so important to most people's day-to-day activities that losing it poses a threat to them living a normal life. This makes drivers think twice about drinking and driving.

Immediate suspension of a driver's license upon failure of an alcohol breath test can reduce alcohol-related fatalities by approximately five percent, saving an estimated 800 lives each year. Ironically, the punishment options that are not working include jail, large fines and increases in the cost of alcohol.

Other Options Towards a Solution

Some options that have not been tested which could work in curtailing drunk driving and alcohol-related accidents include:

  • License plate designations that would indicate that the owner or someone in the family has had their license suspended for drunk driving
  • Passing and enforcing bans on open containers
  • Restricting nighttime driving by young people
  • Implementing a system to electronically monitor DWI offenders
  • Encouraging other drivers to report drunk drivers via 911
  • Educating and testing on issues regarding drunk driving for new prospective drivers

Making Progress

Alcohol-related traffic fatalities have dropped from 60 percent of all traffic deaths in 1982 down to 39 percent of all traffic deaths in 2005. The proportion of alcohol-related crash fatalities has fallen 35 percent since 1982. While this progress is encouraging, it is still the case that far too many lives are lost to this totally avoidable practice. If you have been injured or someone you love has been killed as a result of a drunk driver, then call our experienced Georgia DUI accident attorneys right away.

If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in a Georgia DUI car crash, you may seek compensation for your injuries, including medical and funeral expenses, lost wages, diminished earning capacity, loss of consortium (loss of support and services of a spouse or sometimes child), pain and suffering, mental anguish, replacement value or repair costs of your car and punitive damages. If you are involved in such an accident you should seek immediate medical attention and report all symptoms no matter how minor they may seem. Minor symptoms are sometimes connected to significant injuries or medical conditions that do not become completely apparent until later.

Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, represents clients throughout Georgia who suffer serious injuries and wrongful death. Our Atlanta experienced Atlanta drunk driving accident attorneys are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located we are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24 hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Auto Accidents

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All information provided by our blogs is general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Consult a Montlick attorney for details about your unique situation.

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