Misconceptions in Drunk Driving Accidents

Misconceptions in Drunk Driving Accidents

Since the failure of Prohibition decades ago, alcohol has become an important, inextricable part of our society. Whether having a casual drink with friends, going out to a nice dinner with a meaningful other, or yes, bar-hopping on a Friday night, countless Americans consume alcoholic beverages every year. Unfortunately, as many of us know, there is a darker side to alcohol consumption. Drunk driving accidents, for example, claim thousands of lives every year.

The reaction to such incidents has been varied, with opinion divided between “pro-alcohol” advocates and “pro-temperance” advocacy groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). However, somewhere in the midst of media posturing, political wrangling, and impassioned speech-making on both sides, many facts about alcohol and drunk driving have been pushed aside and replaced with more emotional statistics used to prove opposing points of view.

For example, people are often confused about the differences or similarities between the legal limit of blood alcohol and the actual state of intoxication. In the United States, the legal limit of Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is .08 percent. Driving with a BAC over this limit is illegal and can rule to arrest and conviction for DWI. This legal limit should not be confused with a functional limit of intoxication. The figure .08 method different things for different people. Many heavy drinkers, for example, show little or no signs of clinical intoxication at a BAC of .08.

Sometimes, misguided, though well-intentioned beliefs rule to policies which do more harm than good. For example, in some jurisdictions, known as “dry” counties, a system similar to Prohibition reigns, in the hope that outlawing alcohol will prevent drunk driving fatalities. On a shallow, surface level, such a system is plausible, though possibly unattractive to residents and local businesses. Unfortunately, the numbers do not bear out such an assumption; studies have consistently shown that states with a high number of “dry” counties have more drunk driving-related accidents than those with less “dry” counties. The reason? Imposing an artificial “dry” county ban on alcohol only serves to make people excursion farther and more frequently to consume alcohol, leading to more accidents in practice – an important example of the difference between theory and application.

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