When an intoxicated individual makes a decision to sit behind the wheel of an automobile and drive home, he endangers everyone on the road. This one decision, which may not seem important at the time, can have a crucial impact . When the choice whether or not to drive under the influence of alcohol faces a person, he often does not realize the consequences of his actions, and therefore makes an extremely uneducated decision. Many people believe that increasing fines for drunk driving offenders will play a significant part in the cutting down of driving under the influence. However, while stiffer DUI laws will look affective on paper, they will not make a substantial step in the fight against drunk driving.
The only benefit of increased drunk driving fines goes to the law enforcement agency that collects the fines. Because the majority of DUI stops happen to individuals who do not believe that they have become drunk, a person who chooses to drive does not even consider the fine that he may receive, no matter the amount. If an intoxicated person believes that he has the ability to drive home safely, a new law passed by state representatives will not stop them. A state increasing its DUI fines, will not make the police notice a decline in the amount of drunken driving stops, nor a decreased amount of alcohol related accidents. The only change that would come from such an increase would come in a boost in state government funds pouring in from DUI offenders.
While the fight against drunk driving seems to have no end, many other solutions exist besides the raising of fines. One such solution lies in education. If the general public becomes properly educated about the meaning of intoxication, they will have the ability to make a proper choice when it comes time to decide whether or not to drive home. An individual needs to know facts such as how many drinks it takes to push them above the legal blood alcohol limit to drive. The legal blood alcohol content in Kentucky stands at .08. this means that if an officer stops a driver who’s blood alcohol content proves above .08, the officer recognizes this person as impaired, and can proceed with giving them a DUI. The public also needs to know consequences far more great than a simple fine, such as the risk you take of killing yourself or others when driving while impaired. Simply knowing certain facts about driving under the influence can become the difference between a person driving drunk and taking a cab home. The difference between life and death lies in this choice, so it should lie in the hands of an educated person, not someone who does not know the facts about drunk driving.
Another factor that can affect a person’s decision to drive drunk comes with his friends. A person needs to possess enough common sense to not let someone who is obviously intoxicated sit behind the wheel. While a possible fine will not stop someone from driving drunk, a close friend telling them not to drive will prevent them from doing so. In order to stop an intent person who has decided that he wants to drive drunk, a friend must also prove intent in stopping them. The saying, “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk,” could not have any more accuracy. Many times, a person will use every excuse in the world to convince someone to let them drive. A true friend should never let someone drive drunk, no matter the circumstances.
The fact remains true, that no matter what anyone does, whether increasing the punishment, or educating the public, we cannot completely solve the problem of drunk driving. “Preaching to me about the evils of drinking didn’t stop me though.” This quotation from “An Indian Story”, by Roger Jack, demonstrates the average person’s attitude towards alcohol. People posses their own determination and will do what they want to do, and this willpower becomes even stronger when alcohol enters the picture. Judgment becomes impaired, and a person’s decision making goes downhill. This fact alone contributes greatly to the fact that people will always drive drunk, no matter what anyone does.
Although nothing can totally prevent drunk driving, certain steps such as the education of not only the potential driver, but his friends as well, can play a significant role. The increase in fines, however, would prove completely ineffective and have no impact whatsoever on the amount of drunk driving that takes place. People simply do not consider the legal punishment when making the decision to drive while intoxicated. Knowing that consequences can go so much further that an easy fine and even be as serious as death, however, may sway someone’s choice. The prevention of drunk driving does not lie in legislation, but in education. Educated people make educated decisions, and educated people will not make the decision to drive drunk.
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Alcohol is not an ordinary commodity. While it carries connotations of pleasure and sociability in the minds of many, harmful consequences of its use are diverse and widespread
From a global perspective, in order to reduce the harm caused by alcohol, policies need to take into account specific situations in different societies. Average volumes consumed and patterns of drinking are two dimensions of alcohol consumption that need to be considered in efforts to reduce the burden of alcohol-related problems. Avoiding the combination of drinking and driving is an example of measures that can reduce the health burden of alcohol.
Worlwide, alcohol takes an enormous toll on lives and communities, especially in developing countries and its contribution to the overall burden of disease is expected to increase in the future. Particularly worrying trends are the increases in the average amount of alcohol consumed per person in countries such as China and India and the more harmful and risky drinking patterns among young people.
National monitoring systems need to be developed to keep track of alcohol consumption and its consequences, and to raise awareness amongst the public and policy-makers. It is up to both governments and concerned citizens to encourage debate and formulate effective public health policies that minimize the harm caused by alcohol.
This text is a summary of: WHO Global Status Report on Alcohol 2004