DUI laws have always been a conversed issue, getting repeat offenders to comply; the many innocent victims that are killed and the newly broken families because of it. According to Driving Laws, the current BAC levels considered to be driving while intoxicated in Florida, “any persons under the age of 21 cannot have a BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) of 0. 2%, 21 years or older 0. 8% and commercial drivers 0. 4%”. (www. drivinglaws. org) “Any refusal to take a breathalyzer test can result in 1 year license suspension and increases to a total maximum of 18 months each additional offense” (“Driving Laws”).
As stated in Driving Laws because jail time offered in the state of Florida varies, for non-convicted offenders because is no jail time penalty. For second time offenders there is a 10 day jail penalty and increases an additional ten days for the third offense. (“Driving Laws”). For the families who have lost loved ones to an individual driving while under the influence this might be upsetting and a slap on the wrist for offenders.
DUI laws should be stricter, each year there are repeat offenders, new offenders and no shortage of death’s because of it “in 2011, 323 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes, which were 35 percent of the 918 total crash fatalities. 38,704 DUI arrests were recorded by the Secretary of State’s office. 92 percent of all drivers arrested for DUI, who were eligible, lost their driving privileges. 1,338 drivers under age 21 lost their driving privileges due to Zero Tolerance law violations. 24 percent of those arrested for DUI are women, who represent 50 percent of all licensed drivers.
Males ages 21-24 had the highest DUI arrest rate (about 17 per 1,000 licensed drivers). 85 percent of all drivers arrested for DUI are first offenders”, (White). There is speculation of officers being irrational by being discriminatory towards “minority groups” in regards to other criminal offenses, but not limited to and including DUI. However, officers must follow specific and chronological procedure’s to distinguish drivers who are impaired and drivers who, in other words, are able to drive.
For example, White states the following facts “An officer stops a vehicle at a roadside safety check or for probable cause, reasonable suspicion or unusual operation, the officer observes the driver and requests a driver’s license, vehicle registration and insurance card, if the officer suspects the driver is under the influence, the driver is asked to submit to field sobriety tests, if the officer does not suspect the driver is under the influence, the driver is released with any applicable violations” if the officer has probable cause based on the field sobriety tests, the driver is placed under arrest for DUI and taken to the police station” (“White”).
In other words an officer cannot pull a driver over just because he or she feels like it, the officer must have as stated above, “probable cause” an example of “probable cause” would be an officer on patrol who observes a motorist swerving from side to side, that would give an officer the right to initiate a traffic stop and investigate. Research shows that tougher laws do reduce the occurrences of a DUI and reduces the amount of repeat offenders especially with young adults, tougher laws will encourage new drivers to do the right thing.
“According to SAMSHA News Release, “young drivers in states with more restrictive driver-licensing laws had lower rates of heavy drinking and driving under the influence of alcohol than states with less restrictive laws”. This would mean less occurrences of DUI in the younger population of major cities thus decreasing the annual deaths. SAMSHA news release continues to report, "Graduated Driver Licensing and Drinking among Young Drivers", released by SAMSHA, shows that while six percent of young drivers nationally were heavy drinkers, young drivers in states with the most restrictive graduated licensing laws had lower rates 5. 4 Percent of heavy drinking than did young drivers in states with the least restrictive licensing provisions 7. 0 percent (“Samsha”).
Clearly the above mentioned research shows that states with higher restrictive DUI laws were more effective in prevention of DUI offenses however, opponents might argue that reliable information is difficult to obtain because DUI is such a wide spread statewide issue and stricter laws will make it easier to arrest motorists under suspicion of DUI who are not really under the influence. According to James B. Jacobs, reliable information on patterns and frequency of drunk driving is difficult to obtain. The evidence suggests that driving under the influence is widespread-particularly among males” Jacobs continues to claim, “Today, a set of interrelated Criminal laws, procedures, and administrative laws makes it easier to arrest, convict, and punish drunk drivers.
The effectiveness of the campaign against drunk driving has been difficult to assess because of the poor quality of data, the lack of carefully planned evaluations, and the difficulty in disentangling the effects of simultaneous intervention programs”(“Jacobs”). In reference to the above facts it is clear that while many states feel DUI laws are in need of an increase on enforcement, much of the information gathered is unreliable and broad, however facts do show with tougher laws, comes more compliance with less occurrences of DUI especially in the younger population, and with new drivers.
While some offenders never get caught and do beat the system, it is essential to remember that DUI is an important and ongoing issue, there is no safe amount to drink while operating a motor vehicle, you put your life and the lives of other motorist at risk when you make the decision to drink and drive, effecting not only your life but the lives of your family and any victims family, remember as stated above “in 2011, 323 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes” (White), while three hundred twenty three people might not seem a lot, that is three hundred twenty three sons, mothers, fathers and daughters whom all paid the ultimate price of drinking while driving weather they were the drinker or the victim, “Public education must be directed toward changing popular attitudes and behaviors associated with alcohol consumption” (“Jacobs”)
- Jacobs, James B. "The Law and Criminology of Drunk Driving. " University of Chicago Press. n. page. Web. 20 Nov. 2013. .
- White, James. "2013 Illinois DUI Fact Book. " State of Illinois. (2013): n. page. Print. SAMSHA, .
- "Strict Licensing Laws Cut Drunk Driving. " About. com. (2009): n. page. Web. 20 Nov. 2013. . SAMSHA, .
- "Graduated Driver Licensing and Drinking among Young Drivers. " About. com. (2009): n. page. Web. 20 Nov. 2013. .
- “Driving Laws"Florida Drunk Driving Fines & Penalties. " Driving Laws. Florida: 2013. .