Is the U.S. Behind on Drunk Driving Preventative Measures?

In a new book entitled One for the Road that chronicles drunk driving in the United States during the past century, author and professor of Medicine and Public Health at Columbia Barron Lerner acknowledges progress in the reduction of impaired driving – but also looks for more innovative approaches. While drunk driving killed approximately 25,000 individuals each year in this country by the middle of the 1900s, that number has decreased substantially since (current estimates are around 10,000 to 11,000 fatalities annually), according to Lerner.

However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calculates that a minimum of 110 million alcohol-related incidents and infractions currently occur in the country each year. In a recent interview with National Public Radio (NPR), the author looked to technological advancement for possible direction.

Due to legislative and cultural road blocks, Lerner told NPR that he doesn’t foresee the blood alcohol content (BAC) limit enforced by law to drop anytime soon, even though many insist it is set too high at 0.08 percent (Sweden’s BAC legal limit is 0.02 percent). However, a number of U.S. states are utilizing technology for DWI and DUI offenders that the author thinks should become standard for all cars and drivers. Ignition interlock devices essentially wire a Breathalyzer for the ignition of a car, if an individual blows into it and registers a reading above the legal limit, the car will not start. Further into the future, Lerner sees more technological advances, potentially in infrared steering wheels that will read a driver’s BAC to control car ignition in the same manner.

However, standardizing these tech measures on a judicial level may be equally if not more difficult than lowering the BAC. Using a designated driver is the easiest and most effective first line of offense against drunk driving violations and accidents, according Lerner, but the practice is still unfortunately begrudged in the U.S. due to cultural perceptions.

Drunk driving charges can result in license suspension, thousands of dollars in fines, and other charges if connected to an accident. If you’re facing drunk driving charges in Colorado, contact the Colorado Springs drunk driving lawyers with the Bussey Law Firm, P.C. at (719) 475-2555 for a free and confidential consultation.

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